The blue mountains are located about a 2-hour drive from Sydney and offer a dramatic scenery with steep cliffs, eucalyptus forests, waterfalls and charming villages.
The mountains are densely populated with oil-bearing Eucalyptus trees. They give off a fine mist of eucalyptus oil from their leaves, the mist (combined with water vapor and dust) plays with the light and creates a haze which looks blue – hence the name blue mountains
The mountains are Australia’s 14th World Heritage Area and are part of the Great Dividing Range which runs down the East Coast of Australia.
For over a year I lived in the mountains largest town Katoomba. Every opportunity I got I went out to do a bush walk. I was skinny, healthy and loving life. So in this blog post, I will show you some of the amazing towns, bush walks, and scenic points that you should stop when traveling to the mountains.
The town of Wentworth falls is not what you call hustling and bustling. But it is home to some pretty amazing bush walks.
Charles Darwin walk is one of these walks. This easy walk connects Wentworth Falls village with Blue Mountains National Park. Enjoy waterfalls and birdwatching as you follow Jamison Creek along this track.
Follow in the footsteps of the famous naturalist, Charles Darwin, who walked this popular track in 1836. Nowadays the walk is a tad easier with a boardwalk created at parts of the track. You will also walk on some bush track through open forest, shrub, and hanging swamps to the national park boundary.
Along the way, Jamison Creek’s rock pools and cascades are tranquil spots to cool your feet on a hot day. Bird watchers should keep an eye out for honeyeaters, shrub wrens, and the raucous black cockatoos that can’t resist the native banksia trees.
At the end of the walk, an amazing waterfall is waiting for you.
Leura is smaller but quite a bit prettier than its neighbor Katoomba. I find that it perfectly captures the spirit of the Mountains with its lovely heritage buildings, stunning gardens and a gorgeous main street lined with clothing stores, chocolate and homeware shops and the cutest cafés.
Sublime Point is a popular spot to watch a sunset. As the name says, the outlook point offers some sublime views. Leura Cascades is probably one of my favorite stops in the mountains. It offers a network of walking tracks to several small waterfalls & cliff views. An additional must-see is the Gordon Falls Lookout. Here you can see a waterfall that plunges over a 200-meter drop. Additional the lookout offers some AMAZING views of the Kings Tableland.
Besides nature this picturesque town has some other cool attractions, for example:
- Everglades Historic Home and Garden – Tour this beautiful art deco house and garden
- Bygone Beauties – Check out the world’s most extensive teapot collection while enjoying afternoon tea.
- Leuralla New South Wales Toy and Railway Museum – Largest toy collection in the southern hemisphere
Katoomba, a major town in the area, borders Blue Mountains National Park and its bushwalking trails. The city lies 2 hours from Sydney (by train) and it is home to the famous three sisters, waterfalls and amazing bush walks. During your trip, you can bump into Australian wildlife like Snakes, Spiders, and Kangaroos.
The Three Sisters are an unusual rock formation that can be seen from Echo Point and it also offers some breathtaking views of the mountains.
The three sisters are a popular stopping point because of a famous Aboriginal legend. The legend goes that three sisters ‘Meehni’, ‘Wimlah’ and Gunnedoo’ lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe. They fell in love with 3 brothers from another tribe, but their love was forbidden. They were forbidden to marry, but in order to protect them, they were turned into stone. The witch doctor who turned cast the spell was killed in battle and therefore they are still cast in stone today.
Besides the Tree Sister, there are some great walks that you can do from Eco point. One of the most popular walks is the Echo Point to Scenic world walk, which is a grade 4 walk and will take you about 4 hours.
The town itself has lots of cute little restaurants, cafes and boutiques to shop around in. You can easily spend a whole day in Katoomba.
This is a very tourist but amazing attraction near the Three Sisters. At the scenic world, there are four things that you can do, one more exciting than the next.
The Scenic Skyway – Travels 3/4 km across the Jamison Valley providing incredible views. The Skyway has a glass floor that allows views of Katoomba Falls and the valley below. (Probably a bit of a no-no if you are scared of heights)
The Scenic Cableway – The 510-meter journey gently descends into the Jamison Valley and also returns visitors to the top of the escarpment. The Cableway’s fully enclosed cabin provides a unique vantage point for viewing the Three Sisters, Orphan Rock, Mt Solitary and Katoomba Falls.
The Scenic Walkway – A 2.4-kilometers walkway throughout the ancient rainforest,
For more information check out Scenic World.
Blackheath is one of the last train stops in the Blue Mountains. The town center by the station has quite a lot to offer with lovely cafes, galleries, and the fabulous Victory Theatre Antiques Centre. If you are only in the mountains for a day you will have to choose between Wentworth Falls and Blackheath as there is really not the time for both.
There are some fantastic walks here from too.
- Grand Canyon Walking Track – Popular 6km loop track offering walkers dramatic views of sandstone cliffs, waterfalls & rainforest.
- Govetts leap walk – A challenging walk from Govetts Leap lookout, Govetts Leap descent will delight hikers who enjoy a harder walking track, with scenic waterfall views across Grose Valley.
- Evans Lookout – The scenic views of Grose Valley from Evans lookout make it an ideal day trip with picnicking, walking and birdwatching near Govetts Leap.
As the world’s oldest known open caves, Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area are truly fascinating. The cave system itself is huge, with over 300 entrances, but only 11 caves are open for tours.
You are dwarfed not so much by the beauty and size of the caves and their treasures, but by the age of the entire system. Completely dwarfed to know you are looking at something that is so old your tiny brain has no chance of comprehending it.
And that goes for everyone because you cannot comprehend 350 million years, that is a number that has no meaning to our human brain.
I advise you to pre-book your tickets to avoid disappointment because full is full.
After the cave, my friend and I went for a walk down to the weir and saw several platypuses. The small lake (I am assuming its a lake lol) has an amazing blue color as well.
Show Cave Tours
|Adult||Pensioners & Children||Family|
|Lucas Cave OR Chifley Cave OR Imperial Cave||$42*||$28**||$95***|
|Orient Cave OR Diamond Cave||$47*||$32.50**||$105|
|Temple of Baal Cave||$47*||$32.50**||N/A|
|River Cave OR Ribbon Cave OR ‘Legends, Mysteries & Ghosts’ Tour OR Extended Orient tour OR Off the Track Tour OR Extended Baal tour OR Chifley’s Secret Chambers Tour||$55 per person|
| * Australian Seniors Card holders get 10% off the adult price.
** Australian age pension card holders and school-aged children (not tertiary)
*** 2 adults and up to 3 school-aged children of the immediate family
HOW TO GET THERE?
The easiest way to Jenolan Caves is by car. The road there gets busy during the middle of the day and is very windy, so we suggest making an early start to avoid the oncoming traffic on a narrow road. It is not suitable for caravans. Every day between 11.45am and 1.15pm the road leaving Jenolan and heading to Katoomba is closed to allow coaches coming from the other direction in.
You can get a bus from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves at 10.35 most days which takes two hours and costs $60,00. It is operated by CDC Tours and it is adviced that you book in advance.
BLUE MOUNTAINS ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS
Blue Mountains Botanic Garden sits on 252 hectares of land with 28 hectares open to the public and is home to 21,000 plants and 900 species. The Garden is the only botanic garden in the world in a World Heritage Area and is focused on the conservation of cool climate plants.
This place is amazing to come to relax, breath in clean air and enjoy some tranquility. The main feature is the winding walking tracks through the gardens. In spring and autumn, the gardens are in their full color as they do feature a lot of cold climate plants and trees.
Entrance to the gardens is free, and there is plenty of parking. But it is very popular at weekends, and sometimes you have to park in the overspill parking which is a bit of a walk back up to the gardens.
There is a cafe, with magnificent views across the Blue Mountains National Park, and looking down across the Botanic gardens themselves. There is a small garden shop here, and plenty of places to stop and have a picnic.
It is worth doing the circuit scenic drive onwards to Mt Victoria, and then along the Great Western Highway. That way you get to see two different sides of the blue mountains area.
One of the easiest locations to see kangaroos is at Eureka campground in Glenbrook National Park. This national park is located just outside of Glenbrook, one of the first towns in the blue mountains. It is only a 20-minute detour from the main road, so totally doable. You definitely do need a car, so if you are traveling by public transport then I advise you NOT to do this.
The drive to the campground was not too difficult, but there are some unpaved roads.
There is a park fee of $8,- when entering the national park. However, when we got there the booths were closed and we could just keep on driving. So if you come earlier in the day you might have to pay. Additionally, the park closes at 7 pm, so make sure you get there on time.
WHAT SHOULD YOU BRING
- Comfortable shoes (definitely a must)
- Lots of water for during your walk
- Snacks for during the train ride, it’s a long one
- your camera cause you will definitely want to take (too many) pictures
GETTING TO THE MOUNTAINS
The best way of getting to the mountains is either to rent a car or hop on a train.
The most popular means of transport to the Blue Mountains is by car. From the city, follow the signs to Parramatta. The M4 Motorway starts at Strathfield and takes you through to Lapstone in the Blue Mountains.
Possibly the most relaxing way to travel to the Mountains is by Rail. A one-way ticket will cost you $6.08 (Winning) To check out train times and platforms check out Sydney trains. From Sydney Central, you can board an air-conditioned double-decker Mountains train (with toilets). The fast journey to the Mountains will most likely stop at Strathfield, Parramatta, Penrith, Emu Plains, and then all stations up the Blue Mountains.
BEST TIME TO VISIT?
The region can be visited year round. Keep in mind that you are going to a mountain region so that means that it is colder in summer and winter. It can even snow in winter (Yep, we have snow in Australia)
The area hosts several big festivals which can push accommodation prices and crowds up but are also a lot of fun to join in.
Some major events that are held each year are:
- The Blue Mountains Music Festival in March
- The Winter Magic Festival in June
- Christmas in July
- Leura Garden Festival in October
You can check the region’s festival calendar here.
PLANNING TO GO TO SYDNEY? THEN CHECK OUT SOME MORE TRAVEL TIPS HERE:
- Bondi to Coogee coastal walk
- Spit to Manly coastal walk
- Taronga Zoo
- Palm Beach and Barrenjoey lighthouse
- Sydney by night
- Bondi Beach
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Have You Been To The Blue Mountains?
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