Blue Mountains, Australia

Echo Point Lookout
Echo Point Lookout

The Blue Mountains is a beautiful mountainous region in Australia with a number of notable spots to visit. The area boasts steep cliffs, waterfalls, caves and forests. The Blue Mountains were named for the blue haze to the mountains, which is caused by scattering rays of light that come into contact with fine dust particles and oil droplets from eucalyptus trees.

The national park is a couple hours west of Sydney’s city centre, making it a great option for a day trip from the city. But there is plenty of gorgeous scenery to enjoy over a longer visit.

Blue Mountains Highlights

The main entrance point to the Blue Mountains from Sydney is the small town Glenbrook. The town has a great information centre with a very helpful staff. I highly recommend stopping in to get tips about the best route through the park and the best places to visit to fit your schedule, the weather and what you’re hoping to see. You’ll also get a free map, which is very helpful for referencing when driving through the Blue Mountains.

The tourism heart of the Blue Mountains area is Katoomba. The town is located near many of the top spots in the national park, and it has a few different tours that explore the nearby natural wonders. Katoomba also offers several accommodation options, shops and restaurants.

Three SistersEcho Point is just south of Katoomba. The lookout spot has panoramic views of the southern ranges of the Blue Mountains and the iconic Three Sisters rock formations. Spooners Lookout, Prince Henry Cliff Walk and Three Sisters Walking Track are all also close by. Parking will cost you about $4 within the area of Cliff Drive to the east, Birdwood Avenue to the north, Katoomba Street to the west, and the Echo Point area down to the south. But you don’t have to pay to park outside of that area. It’s a bit longer of a walk, but worth it to save some money if you don’t mind a short stroll. And there is a lovely little chocolate shop on Lurline Street that you can park near and enjoy a chocolatey treat.

For aerial views of the scenery of the Jamison Valley in the Blue Mountains, visit Katoomba Scenic World. Katoomba Scenic Railway is a funicular railway that offers stunning views of the surrounding sandstone cliffs and travels through a rock tunnel. It is the world’s steepest railway with a 52 degree incline. And passengers —up to 84— can choose the angle of their seat, making the journey up to a 64 degree incline. The railway stops at the Valley Station, allowing passengers to stroll along the Katoomba Scenic Walkway. The 2.4 kilometer elevated boardwalk meanders through Jurassic rainforest. There are 10 minute, 30 minute and 50 minute loop walks around the walkway to fit any schedule.

The Scenic Cableway passes over a tower on a cliff edge before continuing 510 meters down to the Valley Station. Passengers can get off to explore the walkway and then catch a ride back to the top. The fully enclosed cabin holds 84 passengers and is wheelchair accessible. The Katoomba Scenic Skyway is a glass-bottomed cable car that travels above Katoomba Falls. The car holds 72 passengers and stops at both sides of the cliff-face, allowing passengers to walk along trails near Echo Point.

Wentworth Falls LookoutAnother beautiful spot is Wentworth Falls. The walk to the base of the falls is rather long and arduous, but there are also a couple easy walks to lookout spots to get a good view of the falls. The Wentworth Falls Lookout offers views of the top of the falls, but Princes Rock Lookout actually provides a better view. At Princes Rock Lookout, you get a clear view of the whole of Wentworth Falls and the beautiful surrounding cliffs.

The Jenolan Caves are also a popular destination in the Blue Mountains. The limestone caves can be explored throughout the year. There are eleven show caves open to the public. Tours run from Sydney and Katoomba. I opted not to explore the caves, but they are a a very popular spot with interesting formations and underground rivers.

Govett's Leap LookoutMy favorite spot in the Blue Mountains is Govett’s Leap Lookout. The area is absolutely breathtaking. The lookout is a spectacular panorama of the Grose Valley and Bridal Veil Falls. It’s hard to explain what is different about Govett’s Leap. In theory, it offers pretty similar views as other lookouts in the national park. But there is something about the vastness of the panoramic view that is completely captivating. If you visit any part of the Blue Mountains, be sure to stop at Govett’s Leap. It’s a bit further from Sydney than the previous destinations, but it is absolutely worth a visit.

Logistics

I recommend planning to spend at least an entire day at the Blue Mountains. Multiple days certainly allows you to experience much more of the national park, but it’s possible to see quite a bit and do a few of the shorter walks during a day trip. So plan to leave Sydney in the early morning hours and return late into the evening.

There are a few options for getting to the Blue Mountains, but as with many spots in Australia, having your own vehicle is the easiest option and offers the most freedom. It takes about an hour to drive to Glenbrook and another 30 minutes to reach Katoomba from Sydney’s city centre. Completing the lap around the national park takes about an hour or so without stopping. And then it’s about another hour and a half to get back to Sydney’s city centre.

Another option for getting around is a hop-on, hop-off bus with Blue Mountains Trolley Tours from Katoomba. The trollies stop at 29 attractions in Katoomba and nearby Leura with service every day of the week. All day passes are $25 per adult. Tickets can be purchased at the Trolley Shoppe across from the Katoomba Railway Station.

But you’ll have to find your own way to Katoomba. A great option is the train from Sydney Central Railway Station, which takes about two hours. Tickets are available through the Opal system. With the Opal card, the round trip journey will meet the daily cap of $15 Monday to Saturday or $2.50 on Sundays. Opal single trip tickets are $10 for a one-way journey. There is no entry fee for the national park.

What natural wonder would you or have you enjoyed at the Blue Mountains?

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