“Those who lose dreaming are lost” – Aboriginal Proverb
Blue Mountains Australia
Road trips really are the best way to see anything in Australia outside of the cities. With an endless supply of National Parks on offer, there will always be something exciting to enjoy, a new route to try or a hidden gem to discover. Whether you’re a Sydney visitor or resident, there is one particular National Park that is simply unmissable from this bustling harbour city; the Blue Mountains National Park.
How far is Blue Mountains from Sydney?
The Blue Mountains National Park is located near Katoomba and makes an excellent road trip weekend from Sydney, or a great first stop on an east coast road trip heading north. About a 2-hour drive outside of central Sydney, Katoomba offers a choice of campgrounds, bush walking trails and stunning blue-hued mountain views. The roads are well maintained for any vehicle type and easy to navigate with excellent signage.
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Read on to find information on where to camp in Blue Mountains National Park, what there is to see and do here, as well as some fun facts about the unique Blue Mountains Australia.
Blue Mountains Camping
If you want to be walking distance to some of the best activities in the Blue Mountains National Park, the best campsite for your stay is Katoomba Falls Tourist Park. This location is very popular for this reason so if it happens to be fully booked on your dates, their sister site at Blackheath Glen Tourist Park is another great option, just 15 minutes away by car.
Both sites are clean, family-friendly and well taken care of. Facilities include welcoming and helpful staff, powered and unpowered pitches, toilets and showers block, outdoor kitchen, BBQs, dump point, WiFi, coin operated laundry and a children’s play area nearby.
For Blue Mountains camping during a weekend in December, we paid 31 AUD for an unpowered site for 1 night for 2 adults at Katoomba Falls Tourist Park and 43 AUD for a powered site for 1 night for 2 adults at Blackheath Glen Tourist Park.
What To Do in Blue Mountains
Park up your vehicle and get exploring. Just an 8-minute walk from Katoomba Falls Tourist Park, you will find the varied and exciting thrills of Scenic World. From here, you are also walking distance from cliff-hugging bush trails that offer incredible Blue Mountain views, as well as the Three Sisters, an iconic rock formation surrounded by Aboriginal dreamtime stories.
We recommend starting your day at Scenic World because a visit to this area really must involve the 52 degree steepest railway in the world. The most recent version of this passenger train includes a feature that allows you to incline your row of seats even further if the thought of a 52 degree incline doesn’t excite you enough! The queues for the train are often lengthy but with departures every 10 minutes, you will soon get your turn. Descending through a cliff-side tunnel, take this crazily inclined train 310 metres down to the rainforest floor where you can enjoy the much more relaxed Scenic Walkway.
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The Scenic Walkway is a shaded and slightly elevated boardwalk suitable for adults and children. Learn about the local trees and plants of the Jamison Valley, discover the coal mining history of this area or just sit back and listen for the lyre bird on one of the many benches. This boardwalk is 2.4 kilometres in length, but the route you choose can vary from a 10-minute stroll to a 1-hour adventure.
Seeing as you have enjoyed the Scenic Railway down, we recommend you opt for the Scenic Cableway to take you back out of the rainforest canopy. From this fully enclosed cabin, enjoy panoramic views of the Three Sisters and Katoomba Falls on the steepest cable car in the Southern Hemisphere.
Enjoy lunch at EATS270 with outdoor seating 270 metres above Jamison Valley. This spot is a great photo opportunity for the Three Sisters.
When you are ready to join the nearby footpaths of the Blue Mountains National Park, take the Skyway cable car from Scenic World to the opposite cliff top. It’s here, on the opposite side of the Scenic World park, that you will find the uninterrupted blue-hued views you have come to see. Even if you don’t fancy yourself much of a walker, at the very least get off and enjoy the panoramic views from the viewing deck on this cliff top. Then, you can either continue on for a walk in nature along the Prince Henry or take the Skyway back across to Scenic World, enjoying the glass bottom section of the cabin, if you dare.
Prince Henry Cliff Walk
If you’re not much of a crowd-lover, this is the Blue Mountains National Park option for you. From the Skyway’s east station, join the cliff-hugging bush trail that heads towards Echo Point. This path will allow you to view the Three Sisters from multiple places, as well as the viewing platform at Echo Point. Make multiple stops to enjoy the visual delights of the Blue Mountains and the shades of colour that they offer.
From Echo Point, if you fancy a little more exercise before you turn back on yourself, keep going on the tracks to get up close and personal to the Three Sisters themselves. Be aware that this final part of the journey involves steep and narrow steps, that if crowded can be a little treacherous. Hold on tight and where you can, move out of the way for those coming back up the path.
Prince Henry Cliff Walk is a 3-4 hour one-way walk if enjoyed in full, or simply enjoy the section between Scenic World and the Three Sisters as we did, before heading back to Scenic World. You can also choose to detour away from the cliff edges on your way back, heading through local residential streets and parks, following your nose back to your campsite.
Read more about what you can do in the Blue Mountains National Park.
The Blue Mountains National Park sits on the land of the Gundungurra and Darug People, the traditional custodians of this place. Various aboriginal stories account for the existence of the Three Sisters rock formation, along with other impressive natural sights around Australia. One such story captures forbidden love for three sisters from three brothers of a neighbouring tribe, whilst another speaks of a father protecting his three daughters from a Bunyip. If you would like to explore the aboriginal stories of the Three Sisters further, you can read more here.
One thing is for certain, as you leave Scenic World behind, the crowds start to thin. Walk for as little or as long as you like, following the various cliff-hugging tracks. Enjoy more privately and less commercially the many small trails that give you spell-binding, blue views over this mysterious landscape.
Visit Blue Mountains – Fun Facts
- The Scenic Railway is the steepest in the world
- The Scenic Skyway is the highest cable car in Australia
- Carrying 84 people, the Scenic Cableway is the biggest cable car in Australia
- The Scenic Walkway is the longest boardwalk in the Southern Hemisphere
- The Blue Mountains appear blue because of their eucalyptus trees that emit finely dispersed droplets of oil, giving the atmosphere a blue hue
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Visit Blue Mountains – Know Before You Go
Tickets for Scenic World start from $33 depending on how early you purchase them and how many activities you want to enjoy. If the height of the cable cars or the steepness of the railway puts you off, try to face your fear and brave everything on offer.
Health and Safety
Within Scenic World’s Walkway, there is plenty of rainforest canopy shade but outside of Scenic World on the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, there isn’t a lot of shelter from the intense sun. Take a refillable water bottle with you and wear shoes with ankle support and good grip.
Outside of Scenic World, some of the walking tracks are both high up and very close to the cliff edge. Plan walks to suit the ability of all members of your party. For more information, continue reading about the Blue Mountains National Park walks.
Whilst you visit Blue Mountains National Park, you’ll find many great places to buy eucalyptus oil from the nearby trees. Eucalyptus is an excellent natural remedy for a variety of ailments including sinus decongestion and muscle and joint ache. It can also be used as a safe disinfectant in your home.
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Blue Mountains National Park
If you are short for time in Australia, do not miss a road trip to the Blue Mountains National Park from Sydney before flying out of the area. Day trips are available if you don’t have access to your own vehicle or don’t fancy camping. We highly recommend you book your Blue Mountains Day Tour in advance of your trip to save disappointment, especially during peak times.
If you are time-rich in Australia, a Sydney resident and/or are using Sydney as a start of a road trip like us, enjoy the city to its fullest first and save this natural beauty as your first road trip stop. It’s a great weekend activity in New South Wales and a fantastic example of natural and cultural Australia. Camping is the best way to get to know the area properly and with excellent facilities nearby and in close proximity to Sydney, it’s a great way to try your first road trip, before really heading into unknown territory. For all you Sydney locals who haven’t yet made this journey, what are you waiting for?
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