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Blue Mountains

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The reason for the name Blue Mountains soon becomes apparent, for the distant ranges do indeed appear to be covered in a blue haze. One theory is that this is caused by the evaporation of eucalyptus vapour, but it is only a theory.

The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains cover a large part of New South Wales inland from Sydney to the east. Katoomba is the favourite destination in the area of the Blue Mountains National Park. It is 110 kilometres west of Sydney by CityRail train, a journey which takes two hours. The railway line runs through the Blue Mountains National Park from Lapstone onwards and offers some splendid views.

The reason for the name Blue Mountains soon becomes apparent, for the distant ranges appear to be covered in a blue haze. One theory is that this is caused by the evaporation of eucalyptus vapour, but it is only a theory.

The Blue Mountains were a great barrier to inland exploration for the first European settlers. It was not until May 1813 that the first route through them was discovered by Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson, all of whose names you will now find given to stations and communities on the journey up to Katoomba. By 1815, there was a road through the mountains. The railway was built in 1868 and tourism started in the area soon after.

The Blue Mountains National Park was declared in 1959 and covers 248,433 hectares. Its most spectacular feature is an escarpment with sheer waterfalls and impressive views. There are also some caves, and in the past the area has been mined for coal.

A main attraction in Katoomba is the Scenic Skyway which can be reached by a short walk down the main street, Katoomba Street, until you reach Katoomba Falls Road on your right. Take this road and you will come to The Skyway, which a cable car suspended across the Jamison Valley. From the cable car you can see down 200 metres to the valley floor, though the car windows and also through the floor. From here you can also see the Three Sisters and Katoomba falls, as well as full vistas of the Blue Mountains.

The other most popular attraction here is the Scenic Railway, a funicular railway which descends at an acceptable angle for a few metres and then plunges off the edge of the 170-metre-high escarpment and through a tunnel.It claims to be the steepest funicular railway in the world, at an incline of 52 degrees, an angle which is terrifyingly steep. This railway was not built as a tourist attraction. It used to be a working line to the old coal mine at the bottom.The railway used to take the miners down to the pit entrance and haul the coal back up. You can make either a single or a return journey on this railway.

From the lower station, which is a horizontal section of rail extending precariously out over the abyss, you can walk east, in the opposite direction to the mine, to the Three Sisters Lookout at Echo Point, a walk of about 45 minutes. You can also walk to the Sisters themselves, if you prefer. The Three Sisters are, as the name implies, a group of three pinnacles standing out and isolated from the escarpment. At the Echo Point Lookout, you will have a magnificent view, weather permitting, not only of the Sisters, but of the Jamison Valley continuing into the distance and the great expanse of bushland. There is also a Visitor Information Centre here with maps available of further walks. From Echo Point, follow Echo Point Road until it runs into Lurline Street, and so return to the town.

What is described above is just a stroll with excellent views. To extend the walk to approximately nine kilometres and include some extra and impressive cliff-top views, continue along the Cliff Walk beyond Echo Point. You will encounter two lookouts, first Honeymoon Lookout, then Kiah Lookout, and beyond those you will have views of Leura Falls and Gordon Falls. Having reached the lookout to the falls, retrace your steps for a short distance and walk north up Leura Mall, either all the way to Leura Station or to Megalong Street, where turn left and, via Clarence Street and Lovel Street, return to Katoomba Station.

For those who wish to add some rainforest sites to this trip, make sure you take time out to wander the boardwalks of the Scenic Walkway, which is found at the base of the gorge where the Scenic Railway plunges to.

If all this sounds like too much exercise, there are two bus companies which follow the route of the longer mountain walk, plus just a little extra. These however don't include the walk from the foot of the funicular railway up to Echo Point. These two companies are Trolley Tours and Blue Mountains Explorer Bus. Buses run on a circular route, making stops where passengers may alight and reboard later in the day.

Another popular destination in the Blue Mountains is Wentworth Falls, two stations from Katoomba in the direction of Sydney. It is also possible to walk between Katoomba and Wentworth, part of the walk being along the edge of the escarpment, as described above. The falls are triple-tiered and 180 metres high in total. The famous caves are the Jenolan Caves, just outside the south-western boundary of the Blue Mountains National Park. Nine limestone caverns here are open to the public.

This area of the Blue Mountains can be just a daytrip or several days spent in this calming and magnificent part of Australia. However long you decide to stay, it is a trip that should not be missed. Address: Katoomba, NSW, 2780 .


Blue Mountain tours

Life's an Adventure
Daily guided tours and adventures around Sydney & the Blue Mountains. Choose from guided bushwalks (treks / hikes), guided kayaks or guided mountain bikes on any one of our many itineraries. We'll take you away from main tourist areas so you discover magnificent scenery many visitors don't get to experience. All tours offer the option of a pick-up and drop-off from any Sydney Hotel in the CBD.

Blue Mountains tour
Founded in 2006, The Happy Coach Sydney is a small organisation run by two professional guides from the Blue Mountains who love to have a laugh and have a love for the bush. Come along for a great day out, have some fun and learn some interesting facts and local knowledge... Small groups (22 max) Medium grade walking.

Wendt On Tours
Chartered and Personalised Tours to destinations within New South Wales, including the 'Hunter Valley' wine growing district, the spectacular 'Blue Mountains' the 'Scenic South Coast' and the 'City of Sydney'. Personalised tours are limited to a maximum of seven guests, whilst our charter service offers tailored tours to facilitate individual guest requirements.

For visitor information the National Parks and Wildlife Centre is at Govett’s Leap Road, Blackheath. (02 4787 8877).

Edge Giant Screen Movie
A Blue Mountains visual experience at the Edge Cinema. 225 Great Western Highway, Katoomba (02 4782 8900).

Jenolan Caves
Spectacular lime stone caves on the western side of the Blue Mountains about 90 minutes drive from Katoomba. Duckmaloi Road, Oberon (1300 76 33 11).

Scenic World
A combination of train and cable car down into the Jamison Valley. Voilet Street and Cliff Drive, Katoomba (02 4782 2699)


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