Guide to the Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains is an Australian highlight, a vast region stretching out 11,400 kilometres of mountain tops, sandstone cliffs, and lush forest filled valleys.

Blue Mountains View

Folk will come across thundering waterfalls, epic lookouts, and even an array of unique wildlife when trekking through the land. Regardless of your choice in adventure, the Blue Mountains is truly the perfect place for an action-packed adventure amidst the Australian natural beauty.

History

  • The Formation

    The Blue Mountains are said to be millions of years old, when the sea completely covered the region. Beginning when large clumps of residue dropped into the seawater to cover the floor, eventually compressing into hard sandstone and shale rocks. Once the water began to lower, the large rocks created an uneven stretch of land. The sandstone and shale were left at the arms of the natural elements, with erosion by the water, wind, and even volcanic eruptions slowly forming the familiar mountains, rock formations, canyons that we can see today. The entire formation took around 250 million years to complete!

  • The Indigenous History

    The very first people to inhabit the Blue Mountains were the indigenous people of Australia; the Australian Aboriginal community. The Gundungurra and Darug people were the local tribes of the region, as well as the Burra Burra tribe who inhabited the nearby Jenolan Caves. It is unknown how long these tribes inhabited the region, but it is estimated many thousands of years.

    Related article: Aboriginal history in the Blue Mountains.

  • European Discovery

    The European invasion of Australia began in 1788, but it wasn’t until 1813 when the Blue Mountains faced settlement. This was all due to the region’s rough terrain, which the Europeans found too tough to breach. Compared to the indigenous community of Australia who live in harmony with the Blue Mountains thick bushland and jagged rocks, the Europeans sought to alter it, hoping to build flat-surfaced settlements within the mountains. However, every surface was too steep for machinery and too thick for construction, leaving the Blue Mountains with a reputation of being impenetrable. It wasn’t until 1813, when the trio of Gregory Blaxland, William Charles Wentworth, and Lieutenant Lawson formed an exploration group, tasked to finding accessible land in the thick terrain. During the exploration, the team faced many hardships, almost giving up until discovering a gentle slope on the Blue Mountains’ west side, leading to the very first road in the Blue Mountains in 1814.

  • The name “blue” mountains

    Many find the name ‘Blue Mountains’ a strange name for the green mountain region, but it is, in fact, quite a fitting name. All due to the particular trees found in the mountains; the eucalyptus!  The eucalypti are one of the most common plants located in the area, spread out throughout the mountains, gorges, and valleys. A unique feature of the eucalyptus is the oil found soaked within its leaves. When the sun is particularly hot, the temperature results in the oil to be released from the leaves in a hazy oil mist. Although up close, this haze is unseen, from a further distance, the light reflecting on the mist is quite clear. Causing the entire Blue Mountains region to be covered in a blue haze, looking as if the mountains are blue themselves.

Things to do & see in the Blue Mountains

  • The Three Sisters

    Three Sisters Sunset

    Undoubtedly one of the most essential sights in the entire Blue Mountains; 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. The structure has become both a local and tourist favourite, being a part of the landscape for millions of years. The rock formation is not just a natural wonder however, as it has a strong connection with the indigenous people of the area, even having a famous Dreamtime story attached to it. The legend goes that there were once three beautiful sisters called Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo, who fell madly in love with three brothers from the neighbouring tribe, Sadly, the two tribes were emeries, and marriage between them was forbidden. Unable to help themselves, the brothers set out to capture the women, which launched a war between the tribes. A local witchdoctor decided to help the women, transforming them into stone to protect them from the war’s danger. However, tragedy struck during the battle when the witchdoctor 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 Jamison Valley, never to be human again.

    Related article: Dream Time Story of the 3 Sisters in the Blue Mountains.

  • Jamison Valley

    Jamison Valley

    A velvet greenery of land, the Jamison valley offers a breathtaking natural landscape jam-packed with exceptional attractions within. The valley is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the Blue Mountains. Been known to have hosted a few famous faces throughout the years including Charles Darwin, who even has a walking track named after him here. Walking is undoubtedly the number one activity within the Valley, with countless walking tracks weaving through the land, helping visitors find unique wildlife and picturesque waterfalls and rivers. Travellers can even extend their stay here, camping under the stars at one of the sheltered hotspots to further soak up the scenery.

  • Jenolan Caves

    Jenolan Caves

    Hidden within the Blue Mountains are an impressive series of limestone caves, estimated to be around 340 million years old. The Jenolan Caves are so advanced, a large portion of the caves system is so deep and narrow they have never been seen by humans. Visitors can travel from one cave section to the next, either walking or rock-climbing their way around. Visitors can travel through seeing the natural archways between the caves and even an underground river system. The caves are only accessible by tours, so travellers are guided through the dimly lit caves while they learn about each section’s history and geology.

  • Rock Art

    Aboriginal Rock Art

    The history of the Blue Mountains is one of its biggest draws, with the historic tribes leaving behind great treasures for us to see today. Travel to rock caves or hidden gorges and marvel at large paintings or rock carving of animals, people, and Dreamtime stories that relate to these historic communities. Each art piece tells a piece of the indigenous history as well as the land. Although there are many to choose from, the most remarkable is perhaps, is the extremely well-preserved rock carving now known as “The flight of the Great Grey Kangaroo”, which can be found near Hawkesbury Lookout.

  • The Lookouts

    Blue Mountains Lookout

    • Govetts Leap Lookout

      Listed as one of the most picturesque views of New South Wales, the Govetts Leap lookout overlooks the blue-hued valley of Govetts leap. Featuring a vast display of bushland that is boarded by brilliant orange sandstone cliff tops, with the Bridal Veil Falls seen cascading down on the right side of the lookout.

    • Evans Lookout

      Evans lookout showcases the sandstone cliffs of Grose River Valley and the lush greenery covering the surrounds. It is best seen during the setting of the sun, as the soft colour of sunset bounces off the sandstone in a brilliant glow.

    • Echo Point

      Dubbed the Blue Mountains most popular lookout point, with front-row views of the stunning Jamison Valley and the Three Sisters.

    • Sublime Point Lookout

      A popular spot for hikers and photographers, the Sublime Point truly fits its name, offering up panoramic views of the Jamison Valley below.

  • The Waterfalls

    Wentworth Falls

    • Wentworth Falls

      Hidden away in the bushland-canopied confines of the Blue Mountains lies the magical Wentworth Falls. Boasting incredible views of the valley and the cascading water at all angles of the waterfall. Whether you are at the top peak surveying the scene below, or weaving your way around the base pool, you will be enchanted by this fairy-tale scenery.

    • Leura Cascades

      Visitors can cool off their tired feet in the Leura Cascades pools as they enjoy the stunning greenery covering the area.

    • Katoomba Falls

      The Katoomba Falls is a segmented waterfall nestled nearby the town Katoomba and Echo Point. The water descends into the Jamison Valley. letting visitors marvel at the thundering water and neighbouring wildlife.

  • The Towns

    Leura

    • Leura

      Listed as the biggest tourist town in the Blue Mountains, Leura is jam-packed with souvenir shops, cafes, and plenty of local art. The town is surrounded by bushland, blending with the buildings to create a truly beautiful Australian country town.

    • Katoomba

      Home to the biggest tourist attraction, Scenic World, Katoomba is undoubtedly on every traveller’s map. Set as the perfect base for walking tracks, epic lookouts, and glorious waterfalls, Katoomba is bursting with friendly locals and country atmosphere.

  • Scenic World

    Scenic World Skyway

    Simply put, Scenic World is the best way to see the sights of the Blue Mountains. A self-guided nature-based experience, from walkways weaving through the bush, to epic skyway sights hanging above the tree canopy, it truly offers you a view of Blue Mountains at every angle.

    • Scenic Railway

      It is the steepest railway in the entire world, guaranteed to put some butterflies in even the most daring traveller. The original rail was built in the late 1800s but has now transformed into adrenaline-inducing tourist attraction. With a 52-degree incline, travellers can choose the speed of the rail, making it a fun rollercoaster ride or a leisurely cruise depending on their bravery.

    • Scenic Skyway

      Sail for 720 metres between two Blue Mountain clifftops and soar 270 metres above the treetop canopy. The large skyway gondola features large glass windows and floor, giving travellers 360- degree views of the area. The entire trip takes a maximum of 84 passengers every 10 minutes, so you don’t need to wait for hours for your turn!

    • Scenic Cableway

      Start your journey at the top of the mountaintop and slowly descend into the Jamison Valley. The cabin has three viewing sections, giving a different perspective of the Blue mountains depending on if you are at the back with views of the entire area, or at the front with up close up views of the wildlife.

    • Scenic Walkway

      If you aren’t the biggest fan of heights, Scenic World has an alternative. Offering a range of 2.4 kilometres of smooth boardwalk ways through the lush rainforest valley. Each one equipped with a series of informational signs of the nearby plants and animals. Letting you get up close and personal viewing of the wildlife!

  • The Wildlife

    Koala

    Hidden within this natural landscape, Blue Mountains is home to an endless amount of wildlife. In fact, are more than 400 different types of animals that roam the area.

    • Featherdale Wildlife Park

      If you haven’t had any luck seeing the wildlife on the many walking tracks about, Featherdale Wildlife Park can help you out. Being the home for a range of Australian favourites, including the famous Koalas, kangaroos, and wombats. There is educational talks throughout the day for the animals, with the professional staff introducing the animals to the crowd.

  • Parramatta River

    Parramatta River

    Parramatta River might not be as world-famous as the Sydney Harbour, but without the river, the harbour would cease to exist. All due to the Parramatta riving running fourteen kilometres from the Blue Mountains region to the inner city’s harbour. Many can hop on a river cruise from the blue mountains and finish up their adventure right smack bang in the bright lights of Sydney!

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