Located just 90 minutes from Sydney by car, Australia’s Blue Mountains are home to some of the nation’s most breathtaking scenery and some of its most cherished flora and fauna, as well as several ancient aboriginal heritage sites. The Greater Blue Mountains Area was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2000.
If you’re looking to make a day trip from Sydney, you can’t go wrong with the Blue Mountains. If you fancy getting back to nature for a little longer, you can make a weekend of it and stay in the nearby towns of Katoomba or Blackheath. Enjoy rock climbing, canyoning, mountain biking or hiking on the region’s many trails, or enjoy a leisurely drive or a train ride through the mountains.
Travel Back in Time
Travellers to the Blue Mountains will find them steeped in Australia’s aboriginal heritage. A Blue Mountains walkabout will bring you face-to-face with aboriginal heritage sites that go back over 12,000 years, like the ancient campsite at Lyrebird Dell, the axe-grinding grooves at Camp Fire Creek or the stencils and hand prints at Red Hands Cave. Your guide can teach you about the sacred songlines that give these sites meaning for aboriginal peoples and fill you in on the mythology of the region. Expand your horizons with a demonstration of the bark and body painting customs practiced by the aboriginal peoples of the Blue Mountains.
Visit Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens for the unique opportunity to see Wollemi pines. These are one of the oldest extant tree species — their fossil records go back 200 million years, and they were believed extinct until they were rediscovered in the wild in 1994.
Embrace Australia’s Natural Beauty
The Blue Mountains are home to some of Australia’s most stunning natural attractions. The 187-metre Wentworth Falls are accessible from the National Pass Walking Trail or the Overcliff/Undercliff Walk. Its triple-tiered falls are especially spectacular after heavy rain.
Don’t miss the Three Sisters, a sandstone rock formation on the northern escarpment of the Jamison Valley. The Giant Stairway walking trail near the Three Sisters allows hikers to access the valley for nature walks.
The Bridal Veil Falls, also known as Govett’s Leap Falls, are accessible by train from Blackheath. These mesmerizing 180-metre falls are visible from Govett’s Leap Lookout on Govett’s Leap Road, about 3 kilometres north of Blackheath Station. From here you can descend to the valley floor to get a different perspective on the falls.
Visitors to the Blue Mountains will find no shortage of hiking trails from which to explore the valley and spy on its wildlife. These mountains are home to koalas, platypuses, kangaroos and dingos as well as rarer specimens like the yellow-bellied glider, the spotted-sailed quoll, the Blue Mountain water skink and the long-nosed potoroo.
The Jenolan Caves are the oldest known open cave system in the world. Here you can find Silurian marine fossils and gorgeous, pure white calcite formations. The massive cavern network, with its more than 40 kilometres of passageways, is still being explored, but ten of the caves are open to the public. These include the Lucas Cave, with its 50-metre high Cathedral Chamber, where recitals and weddings are sometimes held. The River Cave is home to some of the Jenolan Caverns’ most distinctive features, including the Queen’s Canopy, the Minaret, the River Styx and the Grand Column.
The Imperial Cave is the most accessible for tourists; it’s where many of the cavern system’s best fossil deposits can be found. Don’t miss the rare and beautiful aragonite formations in the Pool of Cerberus Cave, or the stone “crayfish back” formations of the Nettle Cave, which are believed to be 20,000 years old. The Angel’s Wing, a nine-metre shawl formation, dominated the Temple of Baal Cave. The exceptionally-decorated Ribbon Cave is known for its helictite formations.
The Blue Mountains of Australia are one of the country’s most ecologically diverse and geologically unique regions; travellers here will find the region uniquely rich in cultural heritage as well. Make time on your holiday to Sydney to get out of the city and investigate the ancient cultural sites, the magnificent natural wonders and the singular wildlife of Australia’s bush land. Whether you pass a day or a weekend here, the Blue Mountains will stay with you forever.