Being home to some of the most iconic Australian landmarks makes Sydney a no-brainer for any traveller’s Aussie bucket list. But don’t get so lost in the glitz and glamour of the sunny New South Wales capital that you forget to go exploring off the beaten track. Only a couple of hour’s train journey west of the CBD launches you into the very best of the Australian wilderness – the Blue Mountains.
Prepare to be captivated by towering sandstone cliffs, rugged canyons and stunning waterfalls. Here are 5 reasons you need to add the Blue Mountains to your Australian Bucket List:
The Three Sisters
The majestic Three Sisters rock formation isn’t just an Instagram favourite – it’s also recognised as a place of cultural significance to the Indigenous people of Australia.
The original Dreamtime story goes that three sisters fell in love with three brothers from a neighbouring tribe. A spell was cast on the sisters during a family feud, turning them to stone, where – according to legend – they remain until this day.
Head to Echo Point lookout for a perfect photo-op of the Three Sisters, fantastic mountain views and to join the popular Prince Henry Cliff scenic walking track. The chalky-blue haze that gives the mountains their name is often visible from echo point. The colour is caused by a fine mist of eucalyptus oil that rises from the canopy of gum trees in the valley below.
Adventure seekers can jump on board a glass-bottomed cable car and scenic skyway at Scenic World. Take in panoramic views while suspended 270m above the endless expanse of ancient rainforest.
If you’re feeling brave, Scenic World also offers the chance to ride the steepest railway in the world (with a 52-degree incline) through a cliff-side tunnel as you emerge into the sweeping vistas of Jamison Valley below.
The Blue Mountains is the traditional land of the Darug and Gundungurra Indigenous nations. This region is a great place to learn about the culture of the first people of Australia and their connection to the land.
Waradah Aboriginal Centre in Katoomba has a dedicated performance theatre where local Indigenous actors perform Dreamtime stories, traditional dance and didgeridoo playing. There are also opportunities to visit centuries-old Aboriginal rock carvings.
You 100% should go chasing waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. In fact, there are so many that you are spoiled for choice. The impressive mountain-side cascade of Katoomba Falls is the most well-known waterfall in the Blue Mountains, and the picturesque Leura Cascades are also easily accessible from the nearby walking tracks.
If you are looking for somewhere to go for a swim then Paradise Pool in the offbeat township of Linden is the perfect secluded spot away from the crowds to go for a dip and cool off after a day of hiking.
The Blue Mountains are where you can visit the World’s oldest known open caves. These spectacular limestone caves have more than 40km of multi-level passages and are estimated to be approximately 340 million years old.
Explore Jenolan Caves at your own pace during a daily walking tour or thrill-seekers can take part in adventure caving – squeezing, crawling and climbing through narrow ancient passageways.