A trip to the Blue Mountains is an experience on every Sydney tourists to do list. Many trips are offered as private or group tours online for costs upwards of around 50 GBP, however, I opted to self-drive with a friend. The advantage of this was more freedom to choose our own itinerary and also a lower budget for the trip. Due to further limitations on time, this style of visiting was ideal as it allowed us to focus on the town of Katoomba which offers an eclectic experience of the renowned National Park.
We departed from the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney at around 8:00am, driving west to reach Katoomba for approximately 10:00am. The drive itself was straightforward, with the majority of the travelling being on the highway and relatively quiet in terms of Sydney traffic. Our first stop in Katoomba was Echo Point; chasing a view of the Three Sisters. Although only disabled parking is available at the viewpoint itself, along the street parking can be purchased for $4 an hour (ample time to also complete a walk). Echo Point is split over two levels, has toilet facilities and an information centre. The views over the Three Sisters are truly magnificent and the blue sheen of the mountains and rainforest below are picture perfect. The ‘blue’ hue comes from the Eucalyptus trees. To get closer to the famed rock formation, head 15 minutes down the signposted trail to the left of the information centre. Here you can cross Honeymoon Bridge to the ‘Sisters’ themselves. This gives you a unique vantage point of the formation and a photo opportunity over the rainforest shielded by the rocks. The trail is relatively easy until the last section; the steps down to the bridge are dizzyingly steep and irregular. For those in good health and fitness this makes the trail even more exhilarating, however, it is something to be conscious of before starting.
From Echo Point, we took a stop in Katoomba itself for a bite to eat and stretch of legs. I cannot recommend highly enough that you visit Yellow Deli café. I indulged in a dandelion latte and cinnamon swirl for under $10 and the staff were full of suggestions on local attractions we should see. The interior is exquisitely decorated – with treehouse vibes, stained glass windows and water features. The atmosphere is nature orientated and refreshingly homely after the bustle of Sydney hospitality.
For those interested in street art, Beverley Place offers a few interesting pieces. Although the art resides in a modest location, it is well worth dropping by for 10 minutes when visiting Katoomba. Katoomba is additionally home to many antique shops which we explored during our stop for lunch.
After browsing Katoomba, we headed to ScenicWorld to further discover the national park. At $44 an adult (midweek) the entrance prices were quite steep, however, this included unlimited access to: a glass floored cable car, Australia’s steepest railway, a cable car lift and multiple scenic walkways. At staff’s suggestion, we started on the Scenic Skyway. If you wish to experience the glassfloor make sure to get a spot on the raised middle section!
The Skyway departs every 10 minutes and takes you across the valley – treating you to generous views of the Three Sisters and Katoomba Falls. Through the glass floor you can spot the rainforest 270 metres below. Once your feet touch ground, you have the option of walking 30 minutes to Echo Point or 10 minutes to Katoomba Falls. Having already visited Echo Point, I headed to the waterfall which did not disappoint!
Returning via the same car, the next recommended attraction was the Scenic Railway. This takes you on a 128% incline through a cliff tunnel before reaching the floor in Jamison Valley. The ride is one of the more exciting, in my opinion, and holds a Guinness World Record for being the steepest passenger railway in the world. Upon disembarking, you are greeted by the Scenic Walkway – with options of walks varying from 10 minutes to an hour. Walking through the temperate rainforest on the elevated boardwalks is a fantastic way to experience the beauty of the national park; especially when you can adjust the walk to cater for all fitness’s. The return via the Scenic Cableway was a fantastic way to finish our trip at ScenicWorld, which offered views of Mt Solitary and the Three Sisters.
After tiring ourselves out exploring ScenicWorld and Katoomba, a visit to Katoomba Aquatic Centre was definitely on the cards. Boasting an indoor and seasonal outdoor pool, we also welcomed the spa and sauna which were both great for sore legs. Entrance for the pool, spa and sauna was less than $15 for an adult so shouldn’t break the bank!
Heading back to Sydney, you may want to grab dinner at a restaurant in Leura or even catch sunset at the nearby Sublime Point Lookout. The town is relaxed and sleepy but is famous for its blossoms amongst visitors. It is often seen as more elegant than its hippy neighbouring town of Katoomba.
The Blue mountains are overflowing with bush walks and cultural experiences. Katoomba and its surrounding areas offer a superb selection of these should you be on a time limit as we were. I would highly recommend it as a destination on your Blue Mountains adventure.