In a country known for walkabouts and wandering it’s no surprise one of the biggest attractions is also one of the most mythical. According to local folklore, three sisters once fell in love with three men from a different tribe—a love that was forbidden. When the men tried to capture and marry the women war broke out and the ladies were turned to stone to protect them.
Today, travelers who flock to Blue Mountain Park ascend the 800-plus stairs to the valley floor in order to catch a glimpse of the stones that tower hundreds of meters into the sky.
World Heritage sites are typically known for their quiet beauty and historical significance, but Scenic World, stationed in the heart of Katoomba, amps it up with a major adrenaline rush. It includes the Scenic Railway, Scenic Skyway, Scenic Walkway and Scenic Cableway and visitors can “walk on air’ in a glass-floored skyway suspended 270 meters above ground, or hitch a ride in the steepest incline railroad on earth.Those afraid of heights can wander through Jurassic Rainforest or stroll through the Waterfall Walk and informative Coal Mining exhibit. More adventurous friends can catch the incredible views of Jamison Valley and Three Sisters from inside the country’s steepest cable car.
Anyone who’s seen a picture of the Blue Mountains should recognize Echo Point. Famous for its view of the Three Sisters, this sweeping viewpoint on the outskirts of Katoomba defines the Blue Mountains’ beauty. From this cliff top ledge, the jagged escarpment vertically drops towards the distant valley floor—a void where clouds can linger in the treetops nearly a thousand feet below.
Take a deep breath and drink in the beauty of the Blue Mountains’ southern flank, and then consider walking the “Giant Stairway” that drops down into the valley. Over 800 stairs that are carved from the mountain descend 1,000 vertical feet, where numerous hiking trails weave their way along the forested valley floor. Climbing the walls of the “Ruined Castle” is a popular valley hike, and is a good way to escape the crowds that tend to gather at the viewpoint. Rather than hiking back up the stairs, take a ride on the “Scenic Railway” that leads back to the top of the cliff.
Blue Mountains National Park is the ultimate New South Wales destination, but Wentworth Falls is worthy of a trip all its own. This idyllic town 95 kilometers outside of Sydney offers picturesque views, quaint streets and spectacular bushwalks.
The Grandview Hotel sits in the historic town’s center, just 10 kilometers from the national park. Its outdoor beer garden is the ideal place for grabbing a drink and soaking up views, or relaxing after a challenging hike to the Three Sisters.
Visitors looking to get back to nature can go for a dip in the local lake or embark on the Charles Darwin Walk. This well-known walkabout starts in Jamison Creek and ends at the top of Wentworth Falls, a scenic cascade of crystal clear water. Travelers looking to relax can picnic at the well-preserved Kings Table, just outside the town center. The Aboriginal site was occupied some 22,000 years ago and remains a destination for those interested in Australia’s indigenous tribes.
Katoomba is the most visited town in all the Blue Mountains. Travelers love the steep railway and cable car at Scenic World, scenic views from Eaglehawk and Landslide Lookouts, and easy-access to the famous Three Sisters. But there’s more to Katoomba than just the obvious.
Entertainment thrives at the Edge Cinema, home to one of the largest movie screens in the southern hemisphere. Visitors can catch a 40-documentary called “The Edge”, which offers a look at parts of the Blue Mountains that are mostly inaccessible. Wander to the quieter Yosemite Park and enjoy views of the Mini Ha-Ha Falls. History buffs shouldn’t miss the famous Explores Marked Tree. This well-protected tree has initials of explorers dating back to 1813. And the heaps of stones at nearby Pulpit Hill are said to mark the graves of long-gone local convicts.
Lush forests, breathtaking views and scenic mountain passes make Blue Mountains National Park one of the most well know and well visited attractions in all of Australia. In addition to its geographical beauty and biodiversity, Blue Mountains National Park also protects a number of sites significant to Aboriginal culture. Views are best from one of the major lookouts outside the park--between Wentworth Falls and Blackheath, but it’s still worth spending a day or two exploring the terrain and sights down below.
In the 1930s, when early conservationists and Australian bushwalkers were lobbying for a National Park, you could argue that places like Govetts Leap ended up making it happen. With its sweeping view of the Grose Valley and swath of forested wilderness, Govetts Leap is often considered the most scenic Blue Mountains viewpoint. Surely, while standing at the top of the sheer rock face, and gazing out at the undulating hills that are completely covered in blue gum trees, lawmakers and bush walkers could all agree that this was a place to be saved.
What makes the lookout so exceptionally stunning is 600-foot Bridal Veil Falls—the tallest single-drop waterfall found anywhere in the National Park. There is a narrow hiking trail that descends the cliff face down to the base of the falls, although the sheer drop-offs and steep climb make it a trail for serious hikers.
There’s a reason why this town, located about 100 kilometers outside of Sydney, has been given the name “The Jewel in the Mountain’s Crown”. Its picturesque roadways are lined with brightly colored flowers and pristine gardens. Epic golf courses, like the one near Fairmont Resort, lend a wealthy air to the place, while access to dozens of scenic walks mean nature is never far away.
Visitors can tour the well known Toy and Railway Museum inside the Leuralla Mansion, near the corner of Olympian Parade and Balmoral Road. High-end shopping, quaint cafes and local galleries line the halls of the up-scale Leura Mall. Travelers who prefer the outdoors can venture out to Cliff Drive, where bushwalks lead to the Pool of Siloam and views of Katoomba Falls. Sheltered picnic areas in Leura Cascades provide the best opportunity for relaxation and easy access to impressive Copelands and Flying Fox Lookouts, too.