Blackheath, Blue Mountains, NSW
A few hours’ train ride from Sydney and you could be gazing into a 500m deep valley, strolling through the oldest conservation forest in Australia or riding sweet MTB traiils.
TRAVEL 10KM FROM the popular tourist town of Katoomba and discover the striking upper reaches of the Blue Mountains National Park.
Blackheath is your hub for walking, camping, sightseeing, mountain biking and rock climbing in an area Charles Darwin admired on his travels in 1836.
The Blackheath region was also the site for one of the most important moments in Australia’s conservation history. On Sunday 15 November 1931, in what is now the Blue Gum Forest, Sydney conservationist Myles Dunphy and fellow bushwalkers met in pouring rain with a leaseholder who planned to replace the blue gums with walnut trees.
Dunphy and the others managed to buy the lease and turn the land into one of the country’s first public recreation reserves, now part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed national park.
Walking: Whether your feet can last 15 minutes or three days, you’ll find a good walk at Blackheath, which has several trails between lookouts, along rivers and through the Grose Valley.
Camping: Acacia Flat is a large camping area in the Blue Gum Forest that is accessible only by foot. Closer to Blackheath, the smaller Perrys Lookdown campground has views of the famous forest.
Mountain biking: Starting at Bell Station, a four- to five-hour ride will take you to the top of Mt Banks, which has remarkable views of Pulpit Rock, the Grand Canyon, Katoomba and Blackheath.
Location: Blackheath is 112km (1h 40m drive) north-west of Sydney.
The train takes 2h 15min from Central Station.
Accommodation: Camping at Acacia Flat, Ingar, Perrys Lookdown and Murphys Glen. There are also several retreats along Evans Lookout Road on the outskirts of the park.
Points of interest: Evans and Govetts Leap lookouts at the top of the Grose Valley; a refreshing swim at Junction Rock; a pensive wander through the Blue Gum Forest.
Food/drink: Food can be bought from the town of Blackheath.
Maps: Get on at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath.
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