Written by Oryx
Right on Sydney’s doorstep, the Blue Mountains – actually an eroded plateau of rugged valleys – provide World Heritage wilderness that contrasts with historic village charm.
Less than a two-hour drive west of Sydney, the town of Wentworth Falls is the gateway to the Blue Mountains. Hidden valleys, lush rainforest, and plunging cliffs lie all around. The National Pass walking trail is a spectacular (and dizzying) introduction, taking you down the side of a waterfall and high above the Jamison Valley, where gum forests release the aromatics that provide the mountains’ blue haze.
Just west of Wentworth Falls, upmarket Leura is notable for good dining and colonial-era cottages, nestled amongst pines and with gardens full of rhododendrons and roses. Walk or drive the six kilometres from here to Katoomba, skirting the escarpment edge and admiring waterfalls and vistas such as aptly named Sublime Point.
Katoomba is the region’s chief town and has fine buildings from the art deco era. The February Roaring 20s Festival celebrates this boom-time in Blue Mountains’ tourism with jazz, high teas, history walks, and dancing, including the mass-participation Charleston Challenge.
Katoomba’s Echo Point is the most famous lookout, gazing over the three-pronged rock formation of The Three Sisters; gaudy king parrots and crimson rosellas swoop in the trees. At nearby Scenic World you can descend into the valley on a funicular railway that boasts the world’s steepest railway incline. Another popular attraction lies 30km west, the huge Jenolan Caves, which are draped with spectacular limestone formations.
Few tourists make it as far west as Blackheath, but the old settler town is surrounded by great bushwalking trails and boasts one of the region’s best lookouts, Govetts Leap. It also provides rare valley access by road at Megalong Valley, where you can horse-ride, sample organic olives at Glyn Newydd farm door, or have a Sunday barbecue of premium Angus steak at Megalong Beef.
Distance: 12,380 km
Flight Time: 13 hours, 55 minutes