Introducing the Blue Mountains
Escape to the world-famous, one million hectare Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, just a leisurely 90-minute drive west of Sydney.
What to do and see in the Blue Mountains
In this pristine wilderness discover rustic towns and villages, bushwalks and wildlife, all found within a series of linked drives and discovery trails that encircle the mountainous region.
Indulge in gourmet treats at world-class restaurants scattered throughout the region and choose from a range of mountainside accommodation, from boutique hideaway to luxury resort.
This route offers a range of active pursuits, from horseback riding and hiking through the bush to golf and scenic rides on a cable car and stream train.
Trip length from Sydney 3 days
Total distance 295km
Road conditions All sealed roads
Segment distances: Sydney to Wentworth Falls 1hr 35mins; 95km
Wentworth Falls to Jenolan Caves 1hr 15mins; 80km
Katoomba to Sydney 1hr 45mins; 105km
Suggested overnight stops: Wentworth Falls and/or Katoomba
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Must-see sights along the route, include:
– Explore one of the largest underground cave systems in the world, first entered in 1838. Discover a labyrinth of stalactite-lined limestone chasms and underground rivers. Take a two-cave combination: the Lucas Cave has the highest and widest chambers while the Orient Cave has delicate crystalline decorations.
Enjoy the sounds of the Jenolan Caves Concert Series, performed throughout the year in the Lucas Cave's Cathedral Chamber, or the annual Christmas Carols by Candlelight – an even that is hard to forget due to the superb acoustics. Don’t miss the Six Foot Track bushwalk from Jenolan Caves to Katoomba.
– Ride the famous Zig-Zag Railway, one of the most innovative engineering feats of the 19th century, from the Blue Mountains into the Lithgow Valley. As it descends the mountain, the train offers great views as it passes over three sandstone viaducts and through two hand-hewn tunnels.
Located at Clarence, the 'Zig-Zag' track is a series of gently slopes in the form of a letter 'Z', where the train is alternately pushed and pulled along the escarpment. Take the steam train on weekends, public holidays and most school holidays, or a diesel-powered vintage engine during weekdays. The diesel vintage option includes a tour of the workshop and allows more time to study the viaducts and scenery.
– Meander down Leura’s pretty tree-lined main street and explore the town’s lovely parks and gardens. Browse fashion boutiques, bric-a-brac stores and art galleries in what’s often regarded as the most sophisticated and urbane village in the Blue Mountains.
Or follow bush tracks that lead to stunning mountain and valley views. Don’t miss the easy 2km walk to Gordon Falls Reserve for stunning views over Gordon Falls and the Jamison Valley.
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Hassans Wall and Braceys lookouts
– Drive to the highest scenic lookout in the Blue Mountains (1130m) and take in views to Mount Wilson, Mount York, Mount Tarana, Mount Blaxland and the Hartley Valley below. To the south lie the Kanimbla and Megalong valleys and Mount Bindo (1363m). Drive past Hassans Wall Lookout to Braceys Lookout for great views over Lithgow.
– Explore the charming township known as Hartley Historic Village on the western side of the Blue Mountains – a merging of the three small villages of Hartley, Little Hartley and Hartley Vale.
Stroll through the village and examine the colonial architecture of the Hartley Court House, where convicts have scratched their names, sentences and crimes into the walls; and the Shamrock Inn, built in 1856, with numerous large chimneys and a prominent sagging roof.
Browse the local art galleries and savour a light lunch at one of the quaint teahouses.
– Wander past the town’s historic buildings, galleries and specialty shops, play a round of gold in the crisp mountain air or follow trails into the Blue Mountains National Park.
Don’t miss the walking track from Wentworth Falls Reserve to the Princes Lookout for great views of Wentworth Falls and the Jamison Valley. Dine in the imposing Grandview Hotel, one of 13 History Highway Inns in the Blue Mountains and later do some stargazing from the Kings Tableland Observatory.
– Head to Echo point to see the stunning rock formation known as the Three Sisters, overlooking the Jamison Valley. Ride the Scenic World Skyway, a 7km cable car ride through magnificent scenery, take a guided bushwalk or learn to abseil.
Check out the Carrington Hotel, built in 1882 and an elegant reminder of a bygone era, and enjoy hand made chocolates or coffee and pastries at one of the charming Art Deco cafés.
Don’t miss the Blue Mountains Festival in March, featuring folk and blues music; the Winter Magic Festival and Yulefest, celebrated throughout the Blue Mountains villages in June; and the Spring Gardens Festival, held from September to November.
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– Enjoy the ‘Blue Mountains’ experience in the region’s highest town, offering fresh air, brisk walks, fine dining at superb restaurants and quaint, quality accommodation. Stroll around the village to discover a treasure trove of antique shops or follow one of the many walking trails for an exhilarating or easy bushwalk.
Play a round of golf on the tree-lined fairways of Blackheath Golf Club, horseback ride through the Centennial Glen and Megalong Valley, shop for gourmet food in one of the delicatessens, enjoy a picnic at Perry's Lookdown; and admire the spectacular views across the rolling expanse of World Heritage-listed wilderness from Hargreaves Lookout, Govett’s Leap or Evans Lookout.
– Best seen from the escarpment at the Hydro Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath. From here you can appreciate the thick eucalypt forests and the route of Cox's River as it passes through the valley with the spectacular sandstone cliffs receding into the distance.
Pack a hamper and picnic by the Cox’s River at the Old Ford Reserve, alongside Megalong Creek; go horseback riding in the Megalong Valley; hike the historic Six Foot Track; then relax over a scrumptious Devonshire tea in the Megalong tearooms. Don’t miss visiting the Megalong Australian Heritage Centre.
Did you know?
– The Blue Mountains look blue because of the eucalyptus trees covering their slopes: the trees disperse eucalyptus oil into the atmosphere and make the blue light rays of the sun seem more prominent.
(Photo: Upper Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains – Image courtesy Dliff/Wikimedia Commons)