BLUE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK draws thousands of visitors each year, who come to admire the sheer cliffs, vast valleys and hazy forest tracks.
The area is treasured for bushwalking, rockclimbing, abseiling and mountain biking, as well as four-wheel-drive trips and wildlife observation.
The notorious blue haze is caused by the interaction between the trees’ secretion of eucalyptus oil and the blue light rays of the sun. The Blue Mountains have a rich history with early failed attempts at exploration, the eventual success of first settlements, and the establishment of the railway.
Aboriginal sites and 19th-century villages are a treat for eager explorers in this region.
Bushwalking: The Six Foot Track from Katoomba to the Jenolan Caves is a historic route that stretches 44.8km and takes three days to complete. The scenery alone is enough to entice a visit, with gorgeous glimpses of the Megalong Valley, the Cox’s River and the Black Range.
Abseiling: A plethora of abseiling options await in the breathtaking Megalong Valley and Jamison Valley near the Three Sisters. Numerous adventure companies cater to beginners, but experienced individuals will be keen on the more thrilling drops with 50m-deep chasms and adrenaline-pumping exposed walls. High n Wild Mountain Adventures (www.high-n-wild.com.au) provides several options suitable for various skill levels.
4WD: Gain access to the depths of the Blue Mountains area via 4WD to explore historic sites and awesome valley views. Find out about self-guided routes via the Blue Mountains National Park Website, or join one of many tours that target specific areas such as Hassan’s Walls and Newnes Plateau.
Location: Katoomba, 110km west of Sydney, is accessible by car or train.
Accommodation: The Lurline House bed and breakfast is a cosy choice with historical charm. Built in 1910, this federation style house is located just minutes from bushwalking tracks, scenic lookouts and local shops and restaurants. www.lurlinehouse.com.au
Food/drink: Shop locally for pack-friendly foods to carry on day trips and overnight adventures in the mountains, and tuck into finer fare in town at one of the many restaurants overlooking Jamison Valley.
Points of interest: The Three Sisters, named for an aboriginal dreamtime legend, can be viewed from a lookout at Echo Point, or by following the path behind the Visitor Information Centre.
Maps: The Katoomba Visitor Information Centre is located at Echo Point.
More info: www.visitnsw.com/town/Katoomba.aspx