Just at the back doorstep of the breeze Sydney, the landscape suddenly changes, and there are no more palm trees, silky sands or loud beach bars. Crisp air, pleasant tranquillity and rugged scenery will welcome the visitors instead.  At an altitude of over 1,000 m, where over the millennia rivers have been carving deep valleys into an extraordinary plateau, the Blue Mountains are cut by ravines, walled canyons, and waterfalls that plunge down the escarpment.

Blue Mountains National Park was inscribed in a UNESCO World Heritage list in 2000

BLUE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

Blue Mountain National Park is mainly popular for bushwalking, hiking, climbing and abseiling. Designated a World Heritage site, the area has been largely preserved along with its major attractions – the Three Sisters, Wentworth Falls and the Everglades Gardens.

The natural beauty of the Blue Mountains is amplified by picturesque villages scattered along the mountains ridge. 26 small towns that make up the City of Blue Mountains are almost legendary for historic bridges, quirky cafes, craft galleries, antique shops and friendly guesthouses.

Old Railway Viaduct in Lapstone, Blue Mountains

The historic town of KATOOMBA has recently become an up-market holiday resort due to its location right on the top of the cliffs of the spectacular Jamieson Valley. Best views are undoubtedly from Echo Point. Katoomba is the closest town to the main points of interest and the epicentre of tourism in the Blue Mountains.

Wentworth Falls

WENTWORTH FALLS is one of the prettiest towns in the Blue Mountains. With spectacular views at Lincolns Rock, many waterfalls and bushwalks – the place should not be missed.  If you stop by the Grand View Hotel, you can enjoy the views with a glass of wine and some lunch.

The spectacular view from Lincoln`s Rocks

LEURA is a gracious village with teahouses, craft shops, galleries, European-style gardens and pleasant ambience. The bush retreat Gordon Falls Park provides outstanding views of Jamison Valley, and Leura Cascades are among the prettiest sights in the park.

The Grand Canyon Circuit (2-3 hrs return), Evans Lookout is the highlight

BLACKHEATH also called “Rhododendron Town,” is the highest point in the upper Blue Mountains and it has many historical and natural treasures to be proud of, such as Gross River, Evans Lookout, Govetts Leap and Anvil Rock.

TRAVEL TIP

Blackheath is home to one of the largest and most popular Vipassana Meditation Centres in Australia. The retreat runs free 10-day silent meditation courses open to the public.

Govetts Leap, Blackheath

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN BLUE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

  • Katoomba Historic Tour – walk around the town, enjoying the pretty arcades, neat street-side cafes and historic town centre of Katoomba
  • Three Sisters Scenic Walk & Echo Point Lookout – the iconic 2,5 hr return walk starts at Katoomba Information Centre
  •  Scenic Railway and Skyway – the cable car provides an aerial view of the whole Jamison Valley
  • Cliff Scenic Drive – 8 km drive covering the highlights like Cahills Lookout, Honey-moon Lookout, Sublime Point and Katoomba Falls Reserve
  • Wentworth Falls – one of the top highlights of the reserve with spectacular views, e.g. Lincoln`s Rock Lookout, Sunset Lookout, Murphy`s Fire Trail, Empress Falls (popular with canoeing and abseiling tours), Sylvia Falls, Lodore Falls and Flat Rock Falls
  • Leura – discover the amazing Everglades Gardens and take a walk to the Pool of Siloam, Lyrebird Dell, and Leura Cascades
  • Blackheath – Grose Valley offers nice bushwalking at Evans Lookout, Govett`s Leap, and Anvil Rock
  • Mount Victoria – the town has wonderful walking tracks and Victoria Falls is its highlight
  • Glenbrook area – is well-known for great camping facilities, picnic and BBQ areas, e.g., Nepean River, Lake Burragorang, Euroka Clearing, Red Hands Cave and the Ironbarks
SkyWay takes the visitors across the Gran Canyon Valley & The Three Sisters, Katoomba

DID YOU KNOW?

The Three Sisters have their own story: an ancient Aboriginal legend has it that when leaving his daughters Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo, Tyawan – a witchdoctor would place them on a high cliff in the mountains to protect them from the bunyip. One day, however, Meehni frightened by a centipede, she threw a stone at it which woke up the sleeping bunyip. Tyawan, trying to protect the daughters from being hurt, he turned them into stone with his magic bone to keep them safe until bunyip left. Unfortunately, he lost his magic bone, and he keeps searching for it, while the Three Sisters are silently waiting at the mountain edge.

Three Sisters trail is perfect for those who like to walk, Echo Point Lookout

WOLLEMI NATIONAL PARK (THE SOUTHERN ACCESS)

Lithgow is the gateway to the ancient Wollemi National Park that is the largest wilderness forest left in NSW. It features Jurassic-age tree Wollemi Pine and many old caves filled with glow worms, rivers, and canyons, especially in the Kanangara-Boyd National Park.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to numerous native species, including wombats, kangaroos, emus, goannas, and platypus as well as a wide variety of birds. The area offers ideal conditions for canoeing, abseiling, swimming, camping and hiking, and it has numerous historical and sacred sites important for the Aboriginal people.

Hassan`s Walls Lookout, Lithgow

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN WOLLEMI NATIONAL PARK

  • Lithgow – Hassan`s Walls Observation Deck Zigzag Railway – Australian heritage railway
  • Newnes Glowworm Tunnel – 11 km walk along Wolgan River to the caves
  • Glen Davis – Carpertee River, Pantonys Crown, Mount Gundangaroo
  • Wolgan Valley – rock climbing, canyons, camping
  • Jenolan Caves – limestone caves and subterranean rivers  (access from Lithgow)
  • Wombeyan Caves – lovely karts caves, walking, camping (access from Lithgow)
  • Abercrombie Caves – impressive series of limestone arch caves (access from Bathurst)
Jenolan Caves, Wollemi National Park

WOLLEMI-YENGO-GOULBURN NATIONAL PARK (THE NORTHERN ACCESS)

The Golden Highway between Newcastle and Dubbo is a well-travelled route. The picturesque rolling hills of the Hunter Valley change into rugged, limestone cliffs and eroded sandstone formations. For thousands of years, the valley of the Hunter-Goulburn river system was a movement corridor for Aboriginal travelling between the coast and the western plains.

Wollemi National Park belongs to the Greater Blue Mountains area

There is plenty of spectacular scenic views on the way, particularly at the Wollemi and Yengo National Parks and the nearby Goulburn National Park – the largest wilderness forests left in New South Wales. These national parks are basically an extension to the Blue Mountains National Park and feature a very similar climate and landscape.

Glowworm Tunnel Track, Lithgow

ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN WOLLEMI-YENGO-GOULBURN NATIONAL PARK

  • Singleton/Upper Hunter – some of the most picturesque sceneries of Australia with pretty vineyards, farmyards, and fertile pastures
  • Denman/Wollemi National Park – Colo River, glowworms, eucalypt forest wilderness, wineries, historic sites (Koopartoo rail tunnel)
  • Merriwa/Goulburn National Park – Mount Dangar, walking and hiking
  • Putty Scenic Road (4WD only) – connecting Blue Mountains, Wollemi and Yengo National Parks (174 km), it is an exciting 4×4 drive with lots of camping and hiking options (from Singelton to Richmond
When driving in the Blue Mountains, always watch out for wildlife

NOTE

Watch out for the wildlife. Especially, driving at dawn and dusk can be risky. Australian fauna such as kangaroos and wombats are at their most active and often seen at the roads. Hitting wildlife can cause huge damage to your vehicle and yourself. Drive carefully at all times!

TRAVEL TIP

The best way to explore the Blue Mountains and the Hunter Region to self-drive the big scenic circuit, starting either in Sydney or Newcastle as follows:

1.SYDNEY-KATOOMBA-BLACKHEATH-LITHGOW-BATHURST-DUNEDOO-MERRIWA-DENMAN-SINGELTON-CESSNOCK-NEWCASTLE-SYDNEY (Alternatively, you can take the Putty Scenic Road from Singelton to Richmond to return to Sydney)

2.NEWCASTLE-CESSNOCK-SINGELTON-DENMAN-MERRIWA-DUNEDOO-BATHURST-LITHGOW-BLACKHEATH-KATOOMBA-RICHMOND-SINGELTON-CESSNOCK-NEWCASTLE

The Hunter Region offers several picturesque scenic drives

WHEN TO TRAVEL

The Blue Mountains and the nearby national parks can be visited throughout a year. However, summers tend to be very hot and extremely crowded, especially during the Australian school holidays (Dec-Feb).

Winters (June-Aug) are quite chilly, with occasional snow, but sunny.

The shoulder season is probably the best option for travelling (Oct-Nov and Mar-April).

HOW TO GET THERE

  • From Sydney – self-drive towards Katoomba (via Penrith), or catch a train from the Sydney Central Station (trains depart every hour and the ride takes about 2 hours)
  • From Newcastle – self-drive towards Singelton (via Cessnock)

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Eva Bodova

Eva Bodova

Saturday 27 July 2019

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