Pace of life too hectic? Reclaim a sense of belonging at the picturesque Blue Mountains.
When Sydneysiders get bored with utter urbanism, they head to the Blue Mountains for a break amidst the mountainous landscape blanketed in native bushland, and to belong with nature.
Only a two-hour drive from Sydney, the soaring sandstone ridges, spectacular gorges, streaming waterfalls, lush rainforests, expansive tablelands and rolling valleys make the region a great outdoor place any time of the year. It glows in autumn, chills in winter, bursts with colour in spring, and refreshes in summer.
The area is densely populated with oil-bearing eucalyptus trees. They release finely dispersed droplets of oil that combine with dust, vapour and sunlight to give the atmosphere a bluish haze and thus the name. Said to be ten times older than the Grand Canyon in the US, the area was World Heritage-listed in 2000 in recognition of its geographic and cultural importance.
One of the most visited sights here is the glorious rock formation known as the Three Sisters. This natural wonder features three enormous rocks on top of a sandstone cliff which guts down towards the Jamison Valley. Standing at around 1000m above sea level, the rocky lumps are 922m, 918m and 906m tall respectively.
More than a natural wonder, they boast a famous indigenous story. The legend goes that three beautiful sisters Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo once fell in love with three brothers from a neighbouring tribe Sadly, the two tribes were enemies and marriage between them was forbidden. So, when the brothers set out to claim their loved ones, a war broke out. To help the sisters, a local witch doctor transformed them into stone to protect them from the carnage. However, tragedy struck during the battle when the witch doctor was killed, leaving no one able to reverse the spell and bring the women back to life. And so, the three sisters remain rocks for all eternity, standing mournfully high above the expansive gorge.
Walking through bush-filled mountain paths is a popular excursion at the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains National Park features more than 140km of trails and walking tracks. Visitors can choose from any of the numerous guided walks, including half and full-day walks and wilderness hikes.
The breath-taking Scenic Railway allows you to enjoy a sense of adventure as it is said to be the steepest railway incline in the world. It takes riders down a sharp descent through a tunnel and the beautiful fern-damp cliff face. Adjacent to the Scenic Railway is the Scenic Cableway, the steepest aerial cable car in Australia. The Scenic Cableway offers a 545m ride into the World Heritage Area rainforest of the famous Jamison valley.
There are hundreds of scenic lookouts throughout the Blue Mountains, each providing a different perspective of this breathtaking connect with nature. The “Three Sisters” are best viewed from The Echo Point lookout in Katoomba. Experienced by millions each year, the view changes every hour as the sun moves from east to west.
The Blue Mountains are well connected by rail and road from Sydney. If driving, you could take the M4 Motorway one way, and the picturesque Bells Line of Road the other way, stopping at Bilpin, “the fruit bowl” of the region, picking up a classic apple pie or a meat pie if you prefer.
The 19th century township of Katoomba is the heart of the region. It’s home to heritage hotels, galleries, artisans and boutique cafes, bakeries and restaurants. Other quaint towns that draw day trippers are Leura, famous for the Everglades Gardens and Cascade Falls, Wentworth Falls for the gorgeous plummeting of water, and Blackheath for its bohemian soul, punching well above its weight with cool cafes, galleries and local markets, a day out is sure to rejuvenate your soul.
Located further 75km away from Katoomba is the world-famous Jenolan Caves, said to be the world’s oldest grottos. Some make it a day trip to the Blue Mountains just to explore the beautiful limestone formations there.
While returning to Sydney it has almost become a ritual for the visitors to stop for afternoon tea at the Hydro Majestic – one of Australia’s most iconic historical hotels that features panoramic views overlooking the Megalong Valley.
If you’ve seen these Blue Mountains attractions before, try a specialised day trip – gain a sense of belonging with some mountain biking, abseiling, canyoning, fossicking, fishing, foraging, mushroom-picking, or simply browse at the country markets, enjoy the garden tours, or check out the amazing history.
For more information www.visitnsw.com/feelnsw