Back in September 2019 I did a mini East Coast road trip; the Blue Mountains was one of the destinations.
Known for its blue haze it’s a remarkable place to visit, and since I had ever been there before it was an extra exciting adventure to tick off.
It’s around about a two hour drive from Sydney to The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. While we drove and explored the area by car, you can also get to the Blue Mountains by train or on a coach tour – ideal for those that are short on time and can only fit in a day trip. However, if you can, I would definitely recommend opting for going by car. The benefit of having your own car is that you can explore at your own pace and cover more distance than if you were walking or part of a tour.
How long to stay for:
As I had never visited the Blue Mountains before I wasn’t entirely sure of how long to spend in the area, so I settled on a 2 night/3 day trip. This was the perfect amount of time to just skim the surface of the one million hectares (3861 square miles) of tall forests, sandstone cliffs, canyons and waterfalls that make up the Blue Mountains. If I could do it again, I would most definitely stay for at least 4, if not 5, days at a minimum as there really is a heap of things to do and places to explore.
Where to stay:
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to accomodation in the Blue Mountains. Given how big the area actually is, this means there are numerous towns you can opt for as well as accomodation types; hotels, Airbnbs, resorts, etc.
I decided to stay in an Airbnb in Blackheath and it was honestly the best accomodation I could have chosen! It was incredibly central to the most popular lookouts, hikes and things/places to do/see; had various cafes and restaurants for those that prefer to eat out; and conveniently located supermarkets to stock up on any necessities or snacks.
The Airbnb, known as Belle-Gordon Garden Studio, was an absolute delight to stay in and probably one of the best Airbnb’s I’ve ever stayed in – if you are going to the Blue Mountains you must stay here!
Airbnb – Sign up for Airbnb with this link and get $55 AUD off your home booking as well as $21 AUD to use toward an experience worth $73 AUD or more.
What to do in the Blue Mountains:
Whether you’re into three day hikes or a quick 1km bush trail, cave exploring, or driving from lookout to lookout there is something for everyone and I truly believe you’d be hard pressed to run out of things to do.
I arrived in the Blue Mountains not long after lunch having driven 2 hours from Wollongong giving me about half a day of exploring.
After dropping my bags at the Airbnb and grabbing a quick bite to eat at the local Anonymous cafe I headed out to explore my surroundings.
First stop was a quick 10min drive from the Airbnb to Govett’s Leap lookout with an extensive view of a section of the Blue Mountains and Bridal Veil Falls.
You can remain at this one lookout or if you’re keen to explore a little further you can take a short 15 minute bush walk to the top of the Falls (here there are a few other hikes that are a fair bit longer that you can also go on in the area).
On doing some research I had read some where that a great spot to catch the sunset is at Anvil Rock Lookout – approx. 20minute drive from Govett’s Leap lookout – so I decided to try my luck and sure enough I caught a pretty decent sunset with a 360 view. Better yet, I was the only one there!
Even if you’re not a morning person, it is definitely worth waking up early enough one day to catch the sunrise, and heading back to Govett’s Lookout is a pretty decent place to watch it.
It’s worth making a brief list of places that you’d like to see/visit to ensure you have enough time to tick it all off!
One of the places that should definitely be on your list is Scenic World.
Ticket prices range from AUD$18 for children (4-13 years; kids under 4 are free) to AUD$35 for an adult. This gives you a full day of unlimited rides on the cableway, skyway and railway, plus all-day access to the walkway.
I started off with the Scenic Skyway; suspended 270 metres above the rainforest below it glides 720 metres from one cliff top to the other and provides the best views of Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, Mt Solitary and Jamison Valley.
Half of the cabin is open and the other is contained in glass walls and for the very brave, you can have breathtaking views of rainforest canopy beneath your feet through the electro-glass cabin floor on a section of the cabin.
The Skyway departs every 10 minutes so if you wish to explore a few of the walk ways and hikes on the East side you’re not pressed for time.
Next up I took the steepest passenger railway in the world – the Scenic Railway. It’s a 310 metres journey through a cliff tunnel to the floor of the Jamison Valley. The railway itself is a 52° (128%) incline and you travel in an open terrain where you can choose your level of adventure, adjusting your seated position up to 20 degrees.
Choose CLIFFHANGER at a steep 64° incline; LAIDBACK for a more relaxed journey; or for loyal fans, ORIGINAL at 52°.
There’s something calming about wandering around under the canopy of giant sky reaching trees. Located in the Jamison Valley, the Scenic Walkway is 2.4 kilometres of elevated boardwalk with walks of various lengths, all clearly signposted.
I finished off with the Scenic Cableway, a 545 metre journey that gently ascends out of the Jamison Valley returning to the top of the escarpment.
The fully enclosed cabin is a unique vantage point for viewing iconic rock formations including Three Sisters, Orphan Rock and Mt Solitary.
Scenic World is in the small town of Katoomba, which is also home to The Three Sisters, an unusual rock formation standing at 922, 918 & 906 metres tall, respectively and represent three sisters who according to Aboriginal legend were turned to stone.
It’s worth noting that there isn’t any free parking around this popular tourist attraction and the metered parking is on the pricey side so you may as well make the most of your time visiting this attraction and check out the various other lookouts around or stop for lunch at one of the many cafes/restaurants.
There’s a few lookout options to view the Three Sisters from but if you’ve got the time and keen to go for a wander, you can access one of the Three Sisters via a walking track and some stairs.
Other lookouts to check out:
It’s kinda funny that there are hundreds of view points overlooking various parts of the Blue Mountains all with similar views yet so different that they’re all worth checking out. Some of the other ones we managed to fit in and I suggest are:
- Hargraves Lookout
- Wentworth Falls Lookout – this is an absolute must! The cliff edge trail takes you from the top of the falls to the very bottom via a narrow walkway with a mere rail fence between you and the sheer drop. I didn’t make it all the way to the bottom as I wasn’t prepared for the steep walk in jeans and cons, so it’s on the list to fully complete next time.
- Lincoln’s Rock – another must visit! This is one of those lookouts where changing your angle allows you can to do the whole feet dangling off a side of a cliff situation without actually putting your life at risk.
There’s honestly so much to do in the Blue Mountains, half of the things I had on my list we didn’t get a chance to tick off so I’m eager to get back and explore all the other must’s.
Have you been to the Blue Mountains before? Do you have any must visit, see or do's that I should do on my next trip there?