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The Blue Mountains: Don't Forget Your Camera!
The World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains are located roughly 100km from Sydney. As you drive up to the mountains, you’ll see where they get their name. The Blue Mountains are covered in eucalyptus trees whose essential oils give off a bluish mist when the temperature rises. This creates a mystical, almost otherworldly glow to the human eye. Spend a day, week or month in the Blue Mountains. Wander along rugged trails, stop at lookouts over plunging canyons and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. You might even see some dingoes. The Blue Mountains are a popular holiday destination for Australian and overseas travelers, but this doesn't mean you won't be able to find all the peace and quiet you seek. Choose from holiday homes in small alpine towns or rustic chalets surrounded by forest.
Spend the Day at Scenic World
If this is your first trip to the Blue Mountains, Scenic World acts as an introduction to the mountain range’s offerings. Walk along rainforest trails as part of a guided tour and learn about the area’s flora and fauna. If you feel up for it, hop aboard Scenic World’s train for a ride along the planet’s steepest railway. The train features a see-through glass roof for constant views of the forest canopy. If you prefer to view the Blue Mountain’s scenery from above, buy tickets for the Skyway. Your glass-bottom cable car will provide a bird’s eye view of some of the Blue Mountains’ peaks and lookout points. Alternately, discover the Blue Mountains at treetop level by going for a Cableway ride, which will take you down into the valley. If you get hungry, stop for a snack at one of Scenic World’s two eateries overlooking the Jamison Valley.
Blue Mountains Landmarks and Lookouts
Photo opportunities abound in the Blue Mountains, but perhaps the most snapped shots are of the Three Sisters. These sandstone peaks, each nearly 1000 metres in height, represent one of the Blue Mountains’ most iconic sights and are deeply entrenched in local Aboriginal culture. Legend has it that the three rocks are actually three sisters who were turned to stone. For some of the best views of this atypical rock formation, head to Echo Point Lookout, from which you will get uninterrupted views of the Three Sisters. Learn more about the Katoomba Peoples’ dreamtime legends at the visitors’ centre a short distance from the lookout. Another popular Blue Mountains lookout is Govetts Leap, accessible via a wheelchair-friendly walking trail, offering plunging views over Grose Valley and a 180m waterfall. If you’re looking for a scenic spot to have a picnic, you can venture over to Sublime Point Lookout, which provides sweeping views of the Jamison Valley. This part of Blue Mountains is also known for rock-climbing and birdwatching.
Blue Mountains Walks and Hikes
Travellers looking to stretch their legs have endless opportunities to hike and bushwalk in the Blue Mountains. This being said, not all of the walking trails are set in the wilderness. One of the region’s most visited paths is the Katoomba Heritage Walk. This trail runs through the Blue Mountain’s largest town and introduces travelers to local Aboriginal culture, while providing a glimpse into the lives of early European settlers. On the other end of the spectrum, the most ambitious of walkers can take on the Six Foot Track. This 45 km trail links Katoomba and Jenolan Caves, taking about 3 days to complete. Between the two extremes is a network of trails of varying lengths and difficulties. Jellybean Track, an easy walk leading to a swimming hole, is popular with families. Meanwhile, Prince Henry Cliff Walk is an intermediate level hike with a view, overlooking some of the Blue Mountain’s most stunning scenery.
Katoomba: an Urban Retreat in the Mountains
At the end of action-filled days, you might want to unwind in comfort. Katoomba is the largest town in the Blue Mountains, offering ample opportunities to pamper yourself. If you would like to indulge in some retail therapy, stroll through the town centre to discover individually-owned boutiques. A number of art galleries are spread out through Katoomba, where local artists showcase their pieces inspired by Blue Mountain scenery. For a day of ultimate relaxation, look up Katoomba’s spas and select from a wide range of treatments. Finally, sample Australian and international dishes at the town’s restaurants and cafes, which are mostly set along Katoomba Street.
Getting to the Blue Mountains
Sydney’s closest access point to the Blue Mountains is only about 50 minutes away by car, but Katoomba and the most visited attractions are set 90 minutes from New South Wales’ capital. If you don’t have a car, you can hop on a train from Sydney, which will take you to the towns of Leura, Katoomba and beyond in 2 hours.