Only a 90-minute drive or train ride away from Sydney, the Blue Mountains is a spectacular cool altitude (1000m) that is a great place to hike, eat and photograph. Although it’s suitable for a day trip, with so many things to do in the Blue Mountains, staying at least two days is ideal. Most people know of the Three Sisters, which is one of the famous Australian landmarks to visit but there’s much more to discover at this World Heritage wilderness region. The region has rainforests, valleys, soaring sandstone escarpments, plunging canyons and windswept heathlands that cover more than one million hectares.
It’s one of Australia’s iconic landscapes and a national wonder that consists of eight conservation reserves: Blue Mountains, Stone Gardens, Yengo, Wollemi, Nattai, Kanangra Boyd, Thirlmere Lakes and Jenolan Caves Karst Reserve. Despite their name, they are not ‘mountains’ in the conventional sense but a dissected sandstone plateau with an extraordinary diversity of plant and animal life filling the deep gorges and canyons.
One of the reasons why there are so many fascinating things to do in the Blue Mountains is because it’s a place steeped in history. The Gundungurra people – who inhabited the area for millennia – say that Dreamtime creatures Mirigan and Garangatch (half fish, half reptile) fought an epic battle over the area leaving the land scarred with canyons and gorges. When Charles Darwin crossed the mountains in January 12 1836, he stopped at the head of the Jamison Valley and observed: “Below is the grand bay or gulf, for I know not what other name to give it, thickly covered with forest. The point of view is situated as it were at the head of the Bay, for the line of cliff diverges away on each side, showing headland, behind headland, as on a bold Sea coast.”
Many convicts in the colony believed China lay beyond these impassable mountains in NSW, a convenient myth for the local authorities of the 18th and 19th-centuries. The first crossing by European settlers is an event that altered the destiny of the Sydney colony by opening up new pastures for its survival.
Things to do on blue mountains. Taking photos is one of the top things to do in Blue Mountains. Millions of dollars have been spent recently upgrading old attractions and creating new ones. These days, some of the best luxury escapes in NSW can be found in and around Katoomba and with such amazing scenery, it’s easy to see why. Although the mountains are primarily a place for hiking and have many trails from many starting points, for an introductory day excursion, Leura and Katoomba are a good start.
Katoomba sits at the end of the railway line and is the ‘capital’ of the mountains where the first hotel, The Carrington was established, and Leura is only 10 minutes away. In between, there are plenty of exciting attractions to see, so start with these: Blue mountains. With such spectacular formations, exploring nature is one of the most popular things to do in the Blue Mountains. This spectacular rock formation is a spectacular Blue Mountains attraction that draws crowds all-year-round.
Have you heard about the legend of the Three Sisters? It’s a romantic but sad story: a long time ago, three sisters from the Katoomba tribe fell in love with three Nepean warriors from a warring tribe. So that they could be together, the boys decided to capture the sisters during a tribal war. To protect the sisters, an enterprising witch doctor decided to turn the lovely ladies into stone. The well-intentioned witch doctor was going to transform them back into human form when it was safe but alas, the witch doctor died before he could do that. So, the Three Sisters continue to captivate tourists with their rocky charms.
The Three Sisters is a 2.5km (about 25 minutes) walk from Katoomba Station or board bus 686.

Chris Agar

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