Blue Mountains – Wilderness at Sydney’s Doorstep

Wilderness at the doorstep of one of the world’s largest cities. That’s a pretty accurate introduction to the Blue Mountains in Australia. Covering about a million (!) hectares, the vast forests of the Blue Mountains in NSW lie within an hour’s drive from Sydney.

It is an area of true wilderness, consisting mostly of temperate eucalypt forest, valleys and mountain ranges. It is an easy day trip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains and strongly recommended if you’re staying in Sydney. After buying a car in Australia’s largest metropolis, I spent two days hiking and exploring the Blue Mountains . Although my first day was quite rainy, I ended up having an absolute blast.

Jamison Valley in the Blue Mountains in Australia
Jamison Valley in the Blue Mountains

Most people visit just the Blue Mountains National Park in New South Wales, which is actually a part of the much, much larger Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Site . The reason the region was included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List is the combination of exceptional cultural value, vegetation and geographic features. Although they are called ‘mountains’, the Blue Mountains, NSW are an enormous incised sandstone plateau. Most of it is still unspoiled and it is the largest protected piece of bushland in Australia.

Sandstone Cliffs in Blue Mountains in Australia
Sandstone Cliffs

Blue Mountains in Australia: Things to Do

The funny thing is that most visitors don’t actually set foot in the national park. Usually they just stay around the lookouts and go on rides on one of the gondolas or aerial tramways. Although those lookouts do offer spectacular views, there is so much more to do.

I spent two days hiking. The Giant Staircase is probably one of the most popular trails, running steeply down a cliffside towards Jamison Valley below. At the bottom there is access to several other hiking trails. Waterfalls are one of the main highlights of the region and I went to Wentworth Falls and Leura Falls.

Waterfall in the Blue Mountains in Australia
Nice Little Waterfall

The biggest attraction, though, is the Three Sisters. This world-famous rock formation plays a central part in the local Aborigines’ story of creation. It is a fantastic sight. The Three Sisters and Jamison Valley can be seen from the Echo Point Lookout, about two kilometers south of Katoomba, the region’s main tourist town. With about four million annual visitors, it is by far the most popular place in the entire Blue Mountains region in NSW.

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains in Australia
The Three Sisters

Other attractions are the Katoomba Scenic Railway, a former part of the mining trams in Katoomba and now a tourist train that runs on 52-degree tracks, and the Scenic Skyway, a cable car with a glass bottom that crosses Jamison Valley. Both attractions are located in the tourist complex that is Scenic World.

The area is dotted with scenic lookouts, spectacular waterfalls and great hiking trails, but also with excellent restaurants, art galleries and museums.

Wildflowers in Blue Mountains in Australia

The Blue Mountains in Australia can easily be reached from the Sydney CBD by car rental, bus or train. Depending on your transportation method it takes one to two hours to get there.

It is one of the most visited natural areas in Australia and it’s easy to see why. It’s extremely accessible, yet wild, rugged and spectacular.

About Bram


Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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2 Responses

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