About Blue Mountains
The beautiful Blue Mountains are situated in New South Wales, in Sydney, and are one of the most remarkable attractions in Australia. This mountain range, which is spread over an area of 11,400 square kilometres, was formed from a sandstone bedrock from a dissected plateau.
It is situated in the Sydney Basin and after millions of years of evolution, they are now a series of ridge-lines, separated by gorges as deep as 760 metres.The Blue Mountains are fringed with the Hawkesbury and the Nepean rivers in the east, and Lake Burragorang in the south and the Cox river in the west.
The Colo River flows on the north side of the mountains. Several popular towns, like the Blackheath, Mount Victoria, Springwood and Katoomba are situated in the intersections of this region.The most striking natural feature of the Blue Mountains is the vast expanses of eucalyptus rainforests.
The name of the mountain range is derived from the brilliant blue haze of the mountains, which is created by tiny, suspended droplets of eucalyptus oil released from the eucalyptus trees that grow on the face of these hills.
The Blue Mountains have been declared a World Heritage Area in 2000 by UNESCO due to the significant role of the eucalyptus forest, which have been stabilizing the environment and climate of Australia since prehistoric times.
There are many interesting places you can visit in and around the Blue Mountains, including the Three Sisters rock formation, which you can observe from the Echo Point Lookout at Katoomba.
This place is a confluence of many thrilling walking trails and valleys, which is why it attracts a number of tourists from all over the world. The ancient Jenolan Cave can also be found on the Blue Mountains, which has spectacular limestone crystal formations and underground rivers dating back to 340 million years.
Another key aspect of the Blue Mountain Range is that it is home to almost 400 different species of indigenous animals, the most predominant being koalas, spotted-tailed quoll, grey kangaroos, long-nosed potoroo, yellow-bellied glider, Blue Mountain water skink and several rare reptiles.
How to Reach Blue Mountains
There are two main ways by which you can travel to the Blue Mountains from Sydney Airport- by car and by train.
1. By Car: The distance from the Sydney Airport to the Blue Mountains is 72.3km by road via M1. You can also travel via O'Riordan Street. It should take you approximately 50 minutes to reach the Blue Mountains if you’re travelling by car, no matter what route you’re taking.
2. By Train: Traveling by train is another convenient means of travelling to the Blue Mountains from Sydney Airport. You can avail the rail link from the Sydney Airport to the Central Railway Station, and take another train called the Blue Mountain Line to the Blue Mountains.
The journey to Katoomba takes approximately 2 hours and 10 minutes and a train leaves every 1 hour for the Blue Mountains.
Best Time to Visit Blue Mountains
The best time to enjoy the enthralling scenic beauty of the Blue Mountains is in October, November, late February and March. However, depending on the season and the activity you plan to enjoy in these mountains, you can visit at any time of the year.
1. Summer (December to February): This is the peak summer season in Australia. Although the summers in Sydney are scorching, the Blue Mountains, which are slightly removed from the main city, experience cooler and more pleasant temperatures.
If you are planning on experiencing the full bloom of nature and going on sight-seeing tours, this is the best time to visit. You might also experience slight rainfall during this time.
2. Autumn (March to May): This is a great time to visit the Blue Mountains because of the cool and pleasant weather and the sheet of mist that covers the entire area. This makes the mountains look quite magical. This is the peak walking season in the area and a large influx of tourists is common.
3. Winter (June to August): The temperatures can drop substantially during the winter months in the Blue Mountains. Although this is the prime time for tourists, if you want to witness the natural beauty of the place in solitude and serenity, it is best to avoid it during the wintertime.
4. Spring (October and November): Most of the activities that are organized in this region, including outdoor sports such as trekking, rock climbing, mountaineering, etc. are organized during this time. You can also enjoy swimming, biking and much more as well. If you are into adventure sports and activities, you should definitely visit during this time.
What Not to Miss at Blue Mountains
Apart from the mountains themselves, there are several nearby attractions that you can check out when you are in the area.
1. Echo Point or The Three Sisters Plaza: The Echo Point or the Three Sisters Rock is one of the most scenic places to visit in the Blue Mountains. A visitor has to trek through the Three Sisters track and walk down a flight of stairs to get to the famous rocks.
The steps are very steep and therefore, it is advisable that you take extra precaution while descending. The view from the Three Sisters Rock is truly ethereal.
2. Jenolan Cave: The Jenolan Cave is popular amongst nature-lovers and adventurers for its incredible beauty. The ancient cave is a million years old and is full of crystal formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
Exploring the cave is a truly memorable experience. You will be required to climb, crawl and walk steep slopes with headlamps to get to the interior of the cave.
3. Katoomba Falls: Katoomba Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sydney. The segmented sections of the water give the illusion of a natural staircase or a balcony. In order to reach the falls, you have to follow the circuit track and Round Walk Trail.
4. Wentworth Falls: Wentworth Falls is another spectacular place to visit. The 100-metre drop of the waterfront down into the valley is a view that is worthy of a visit. The village of Wentworth is located near the Falls and it is a scenic place known for its tranquillity and natural beauty.
5. Govetts Leap: Govetts Leap offers a stunning view of the mountains and natural elements around the Blue Mountains. The area is abundantly covered with forests of gum-trees that cover the expanse of the mountain slopes.
The view of a waterfall which drops 180-metres into a pool of sparkling water is one of the most spectacular views from here.
6. Scenic World: Scenic World is a spectacular, comprehensive tour of the mountainous regions of Blue Mountains in special rail coaches, cable cars and skywalks. It is a unique way to explore the area, where you can get aerial and panoramic views of the sprawling greenery and the blue The hue of the mountains.
7. Blue Mountain Explorer Bus: The Blue Mountain Explorer Bus service is the best way to explore all the hidden gems including the mountains, valleys, lakes and gorges of Sydney.
The Bus almost covers all the vital tourist attractions, stopping over at 29 different places. Passengers are provided with guide books and verbal descriptions of the places that the bus navigates through.
Other Essential Information About Blue Mountains
1. Location: New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. It is located 72km North-West of Sydney.
2. Entry fee: Since the Blue Mountains are a natural geographical region, there are no specific entry fees or entrance to the mountainous region. But you can book tour packages that take you through all the important areas in the mountains.
3. Public facilities:
The popular public facilities at the Blue Mountains include:
- Acacia Flat campground
- Blue Mountains Heritage Centre
- Burralow Creek campground and picnic area
- Conservation Hut
- Dunphys campground
- Echo Point lookout (Three Sisters)
- Euroka campground
- Evans lookout
4. Timings: Monday to Sunday (4:00 am – 6:00 pm)
5. Distance from Sydney Airport: 72.2km
History of Blue Mountain Sydney
The Blue Mountains of Sydney is one of the oldest mountain ranges on this planet. According to international archaeological surveys, the Blue Mountains formed 1 million years ago, during the Pliocene Epoch. It was in 1788 that Governor Philip named the mountains “Lansdowne Hills” and “Carmarthen Hills”.
But over time, the blue haze that hovers over the mountains because of the eucalyptus trees became its main drawing point, and they came to be known as the Blue Mountains. Historians believe that the Australian Aboriginals were the first inhabitants of this area.
The cave paintings indicate that the Daruk tribes too inhabited the region along with aboriginals.On 29th May 1813, Gregory Blaxland, Lieutenant Lawson and William Charles Wentworth created history by crossing the Blue Mountains for the first time.
In 1814, a 47-miles-long road was built across the mountain. In 1816-1817 the first buildings were constructed adjacent to the road. Later important cities like the Springwood and Katoomba flourished on the face of these mountains itself. Transport to and from the mountains was more easily facilitated after the establishment of railway lines that connected the cities.
Where to Stay in the Blue Mountains:
The Blue Mountains is a very popular tourist attraction in Australia which means a number of exceptional accommodations and hotels have sprung up for the convenience of the tourists. Even though Sydney is just an hour away, you can also get hotels, resorts, nature-stays and inns in the Blue Mountains itself. Here are a few recommendations:
1. Holiday Inn Darling Harbour: The Holiday Inn Darling Harbour, located at 68, Harbour Street, Haymarket, is a four-star hotel offering wonderfully furnished rooms, a chic bar and rustic aesthetics for a very comfortable stay.
2. Blue Mountains YHA: The Blue Mountains YHA in Katoomba is a popular hotel, known for unique features such as its guest kitchen, outdoor space, relaxed rooms, chic interiors and excellent hospitality. It is also very cost-effective if you are travelling on a budget.
3. Lurline House: The Lurline House offers rooms that are aesthetic and beautiful with a garden terrace. The English breakfast served here is quite famous and modern facilities are available with prompt service.
4. Grand View Hotel: The Grand View Hotel is a three-star hotel with excellent rooms and delicious food and drinks. They also boast of a quaint garden and special playrooms for children.
5. Blue Mountain Backpacker Hostel: The Blue Mountain Backpacker Hostel, located at 144 Bathurst Road, Katoomba, is the perfect place for you put up in if you are trekking through the place.
It is the ideal accommodation for budget-travellers, trekkers, mountaineers and backpackers. The rooms are homely and comfortable and you can even sample their home-made breakfasts.
6. Katoomba Mountain Lodge: The Katoomba Lodge is another economic place to stay in when you are at the Blue Mountains. The interiors are simple with shared bathrooms. It is almost like a traditional guest house, which is nostalgic, welcoming and homely. The lodge offers free wi-fi and free breakfast to guests.
Traveller's tips before visiting Blue Mountains Sydney
Here are a few tips you should keep in mind when you are travelling to the Blue Mountains in Sydney, to make your trip hassle-free and memorable:
1. It is very important to carry sun protection lotions and accessories as the sun is very strong in this area and can cause sunburns, tanning and even sunstroke.
2. Although Bondi beach is really famous, there are other fabulous beaches as well, so make sure you visit all the cool places in this area.
3. The city follows some strict laws on alcohol consumption. Alcohol is not allowed in the parks, beaches and inside vehicles.
4. It is always advisable to carry a small First Aid box while indulging in outdoor activities and sports in the Blue Mountains.
5. The best way to explore the mountains is by hiring a tour guide or booking a comprehensive package because there are several small, hidden, quaint caves, valleys and viewpoints that are practically impossible to find on your own.