First timer’s travel guide to The Blue Mountains
I love the Blue Mountains. There was a time where I would end up at the Blue Mountains almost every weekend and I had seriously thought of moving to the Blue Mountains. Hiking in the Blue Mountains is one of my most favourite things to do over the weekends. I really enjoy going to the mountains and spending a day there.
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About Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains is a range of mountains in the west of Sydney in the state of New South Wales (NSW) of Australia. The reason why it is known as the Blue Mountains is due to the blue haze that the mountain range produces because of the dense Eucalyptus trees.
The mountains are famous for its steep cliffs, waterfalls, Eucalyptus forests and the bush walking trails. Katoomba is the main town in the Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains is the best place to see snow during winters.
The Blue Mountains can be visited throughout the year. However, in the summer season (December to February) the mountains can become hot.
How to get to the Blue Mountains?
- Driving – Katoomba is around 110 kilometres from Sydney and the drive takes about 1 hour 30 minutes. There are plenty of street parking available at Katoomba.
- Public transportation – There are frequent trains that run between Sydney Central train station and different towns of the Blue Mountains. Katoomba is the main train station to get off, especially if you need to go to the Three Sisters.
- Opal transportation or credit/ debit cards can be used to pay the train fares.
- Up-to-date information on the train timings and platform details can be found on the Transport for NSW website.
Things to do in the Blue Mountains
There are plenty of things to do in the Blue Mountains. The towns in the Blue Mountains have many restaurants and cafes one can have a relaxed breakfast or lunch. There are also unique antique shops that have some awesome stuff. But I have just listed only the top few things that can be done as a tourist or in one day.
The Three Sisters
Number one thing to do when visiting the Blue Mountains for the first time is to see the Three Sisters from the Echo Point. The Three Sisters are the rock formations in the Jamison Valley, located in the town of Katoomba.
The names of the Three Sisters are Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo and were formed by the land erosion that happened about 200 million years ago. The famous legend is that the three sisters lived in the Jamison Valley belonging to the Katoomba tribe. The three of them fell in love with the three men from the neighboring Nepean tribe. But this marriage is forbidden by tribal law. A major battle broke out between the tribes and an elderly man protected the three sisters by turning them into the stones. Before he could turn them back to the girls, the elder was killed.
The Scenic World
Opened in the year 1945, the Scenic World is a privately owned attraction in the town of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. One can do three amazing rides at the Scenic World:
- Scenic Railway,
- Scenic Walkway
- And Scenic Cableway.
The scenic pass costs AUD 49.90 per person when booked online.
How to reach Scenic World from Sydney?
- Buses – There are frequent buses from Katoomba train station to Scenic World, which is around 3 kilometres one way.
- More information can be found on the Transport NSW website.
Dinosaurs at the Scenic World
Scenic World in the Blue Mountains has a Dinosaur Valley. It is definitely an amazing and great way to learn about the dinosaurs. I love the dinosaurs and have been a huge fan of them. I have not missed a single movie on dinosaurs and Jurrasic Park series are definitely one of my favorites. So, I enjoyed the dinosaur valley and the displays.
Dinosaur Valley from Scenic World bus stop
There are three ways to reach the dino valley:
- Buy Scenic World Discover Pass – This is the most expensive and easiest way to reach dino valley. The pass costs AUD 43 (USD 32) per person on the weekends. This pass gives access to all the sky rails and sky rides in the Scenic World and the dino valley as well. More information can be found on the Scenic World website.
- Access through Furber Steps – The cheapest option is to walk down the Furber steps and walk up those steps after viewing the dino valley. This is one of the hardest walks in the Blue Mountains. The Furber steps are around 1000 steps and is very steep. This is FREE and requires very good fitness level.
- The hybrid option – Walk down Furber steps and come up via sky rail or cable – The mid way is to walk down the Furber steps (remember it is still walking down 1000 steps) and after viewing the dino valley, come up to the Scenic World entrance via a sky rail or a sky cable. One way ticket costs AUD 23 (USD 17) per person. The ticket must be purchased after reaching the Scenic World souvenir shop at the end of the ride. More information can be found on the Scenic World website.
!! You can purchase souvenirs online from Gifts Australia website.
How much time does the dino valley take?
It is completely up to the person spending time at the dino valley. But I would definitely suggest to have at least 30 minutes to see everything in the dino valley.
The Jenolan Caves are the most popular destination in the Blue Mountains. There are 11 caves dating back to around 340 million years ago. The caves are mainly made up of limestone but there have been traces of a coral reef in the limestone.
The Jenolan Caves are listed on the Australian National Heritage List.
There are plenty of tour caves that one can take (as shown in the below image). The best thing about Jenolan Caves is that the caves are disabled friendly and it makes a perfect trip for people with physical limitations.
The tours are mainly divided into three groups:
- Wonders of the Underworld.
- Jewels of Jenolan.
- Magic of Jenolan.
The Lucas tour is the most popular caves tour among the tourists. The tickets can be booked on the Jenolan Caves website.
Note: These cave tours are not free and the cheapest ones are the tours belonging to Wonders of the Underworld group.
How to reach Jenolan Caves?
- Driving – The distance between Katoomba and Jenolan Caves is around 30 kilometres. The drive to Jenolan Caves is a bit tricky with narrow paths and the buses traveling on the same roads.
- Bus – The best way to reach Jenolan Caves is by taking a bus from Katoomba. CDC Tours coach run buses everyday. The cost for a bus ticket per adult is AUD 50 one way.
The Blue Mountains has so many hiking trails, catering for hikers who are beginners to the experienced ones. I love hiking in the Blue Mountains and I have hiked on many trails, in spite of it I have not even covered 2% of the hiking trails in the Blue Mountains. Read the information on the various hiking trails I have done in the “Hiking in the Blue Mountains” section.
Generally, in the Blue Mountains, the first part hiking trail goes to the bottom of the mountain and then comes up.
Safety for solo female travelers
The towns in the Blue Mountains are absolutely safe for solo female travelers. I have been there so many times, and a few times solo (when I am not hiking) and I have not had any issues there. But when you go hiking, it is advisable that one goes with a hiking buddy just in case there is any unforeseen situation.
As I mentioned earlier, it is definitely worth visiting the Blue Mountains. The mountain range provides an amazing backdrop and landscapes. When visiting Sydney, visiting the Blue Mountains must definitely be on top of the list.