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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN BLUE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
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.
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.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN 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.
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.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN WOLLEMI-YENGO-GOULBURN NATIONAL PARK
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!
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)
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
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