Sydney Times

ACTIVE LEISURE Bushwalking TOURISM

Tourists Encouraged to Return to the Blue Mountains

Written by Aksel Ritenis

“Tourists Encouraged to Return to the Blue Mountains”

*This article and guide contributed by David P. Stott who is a Travel Writer and Photographer and receptionist at Blue Mountains YHA. He has lived in the Blue Mountains since 2002 and is something of a Blue Mountains Tourism expert.

Blue Mountains Tourism (BMT), together with new South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Services are encouraging tourists to return to the villages and towns of the Blue Mountains.

In a further boost, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has also reopened sections of the Blue Mountains National Park including all lookouts, picnic areas and walking tracks from Katoomba to Wentworth Falls. David Crust, Blue Mountains Branch Director said that more sections of Blue Mountains National Park will continue to be reopened in the coming days and weeks ahead.

“We are pleased to welcome visitors back to many of our popular walking tracks for an opportunity to reconnect with nature in a safe environment. We encourage everyone to check the NSW National Parks website when planning their visit as more areas are reopened,” he said.

There are many landscapes in the vast Blue Mountains region that have remained untouched by bushfires, and many Blue Mountains businesses have not sustained any damage, remaining open throughout the bushfire crisis where it was safe to do so.

President of BMT, the region’s peak tourism body, Jason Cronshaw said,:

“The Blue Mountains has always been a popular destination over the Summer period, and we are excited to encourage tourists back to experience the beauty of our region as part of a safe and memorable holiday.”

“We have incredible experiences on offer to cater for everyone, and many local businesses who really need your support right now, so please make a day trip or take a long weekend and head back to the Blue Mountains where you will be welcomed with open arms,” he said.

From spectacular clifftop walks to eucalypt forest and waterfall trails, the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountainsrewards the bushwalker with wonders. You’ll find walks from easy trails suitable for all ages, to harder tracks with stairs and hikes that are recommended for experienced walkers.Near the stunning panorama of Echo Point Lookout in Katoomba, in the heart of the Blue Mountains, the family-friendly Three Sisters Walk takes you down a gentle slope to an outcrop near the iconic landmark, rich with spiritual resonance for the region’s Aboriginal people.Spectacular medium to hard walks take you deeper into a wonderland of secluded valleys, tumbling waterfalls, ferns and brooks. Some of the most popular walking tracks include:

  • Grand Canyon track near Blackheath
  • Katoomba Falls Round Walk in Katoomba
  • Federal Pass in Leura 
  • Wentworth Falls Track

 

1.)Three Sisters Valley Walk 

The easy Three Sisters walk, in Katoomba, offers some of the most iconic views in Blue Mountains National Park, and takes you up close to the famous Three Sisters.The Three Sisters Aboriginal Place is recognised as a place of special cultural significance to Aboriginal peopleThe Visitor Information Centre at Echo Point is a good place for local information and to pick up mapsWeather in the Blue Mountains can be very different to Sydney. Be prepared for colder temperatures as conditions can change quickly.

This family-friendly walk treats you to ever-changing views of the grand Three Sisters, rising nearly a kilometre above sea level.

“Pass through the archway, next to the Echo Point Visitor Centre, and you’ll soon be surrounded by soaring eucalypt forest, bird calls and fresh mountain air. Keep an eye out for the superb lyrebird and crimson rosellas as you walk the gently sloping path for 400m to Oreades lookout. Marvel at the incredible views of the Three Sisters’ weather-eroded sandstone turrets, and the hazy ‘blue’ Jamison Valley stretching to Mount Solitary.”

From here, steps lead a further 50m to Lady Game lookout, for a closer view of this remarkable rock formation. A short but very steep set of stairs at the top of the Giant Stairway leads to Honeymoon Bridge, which connects to the first sister.

On the way back, enjoy the short signposted detour to Spooners lookout. If you’re feeling energetic, there are plenty of longer walks nearby, including Prince Henry Cliff walk, Dardanelles Pass loop walking track, and the Three Sisters Walk to Scenic World via Giant Stairway.

2.)Katoomba Falls Round Walk

Often overlooked by tourists, the circuit walking track to Katoomba Falls brings visitors up close and personal with one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Blue Mountains.

This short and relatively easy walking trail is for all ages and fitness levels, but do note that there are some steep parts to conquer.

Katoomba Falls Walk in the Blue Mountains
Katoomba Falls Walk

The track starts at Scenic World and guides hikers through lush rainforest all the way to Katoomba Falls,with panoramic views of the valley below. The waterfall forms part of the Kedumba River and descends about 150 meters into the enormous Jamison Valley.

The best way to get to the start of the Katoomba Falls Round Walk is by parking your car in the big car park at Scenic World, located on Violet Street off Cliff Dr.

3.)Prince Henry Cliff Walk

For a longer walk, Prince Henry Cliff Walk is a gentle 7km track that connects Echo Point to Leura Cascades with scenic lookouts along the way. Also from Katoomba, the 12km Mount Solitary Walking Track will enchant the dedicated walker with woodland and rainforest.

The Prince Henry Cliff Walk is an adventurous 7km walking trail between Scenic World in Katoomba and Gordon Falls Lookout in Leura.

It follows the cliff edge overlooking Jamison Valley with lots of beautiful lookout points along the way to enjoy some of the best views in the Blue Mountains.

Prince Henry Cliff Walk
Prince Henry Cliff Walk

Named in honour of the third son of King George V and Queen Mary, the Prince Henry Cliff Walk was completed in 1936 to help boost local tourism and to serve a public need after years of economic depression in the early 1930s.

Some of the highlights along this popular walking track are Katoomba Cascades, the Three Sisters, Echo Point, Leura Cascades and Olympian Rock lookout point.

If you’re heading to the Blue Mountains, Wentworth Falls track rewards bushwalkers with grand valley views from Fletchers lookout before reaching the top of popular Wentworth Falls waterfall.

4.)Wentworth FallsTrack/picnic area

This short but steep walk from Wentworth Falls picnic area is well worth the effort. Follow the level path past Jamison and Wentworth lookouts before descending around 200 steps to the cliff-edge Fletchers lookout. Marvel at the waterfall that gives Wentworth Falls its name, as it plunges 100m to the valley floor.

From here, it’s a few more minutes down steps to the very top of the Falls, where Jamison Creek cascades into a shallow pool to one side and the magnificent Jamison Valley opens out on the other.

Make your way back via the same route, or continue for a minute along National Pass to take in exhilarating views and wonder at this incredible feat of engineering, before backtracking to the picnic area. If you’re feeling energetic, combine Wentworth Falls track with the short Weeping Rock circuit, the varied Undercliff track or historic Princes Rock lookout track.

If you’re after an energetic walk while taking in the natural beauty of Blue Mountains National Park, this track will certainly get your heart pumping. Cliff Top walking track follows the cliff edge from Govetts Leap lookout to Evans lookout. Located near Blackheath, you’ll be treated to inspiring views over the iconic Grose Valley. And with the sun shining from the east, this is the perfect track to warm up on a winters morning.

“Passing through dense, windswept heathland, you’ll see she-oaks, banksias and stunted mallee scrub. It’s a great area for birdwatching, so keep your eyes peeled for yellow-tailed black cockatoos and king parrots. The heath comes alive with colourful displays of wildflowers in spring, attracting nectar-loving birds such as the white-naped honeyeater. Look back towards Govetts leap from Barrow lookout for brilliant waterfall views.”

Crossing Govetts Leap Brook, the track passes the junction with Braeside walking track on you’re right. Don’t forget to pack your lunch so you can enjoy a picnic at Evans lookout, before retracing your steps.

 

Blue Mountains National Park

This is the landscape that so intrigued Charles Darwin during his visit in 1836, describing the views from Wentworth Falls as “exceedingly well worth visiting”. With hundreds of bushwalking trails, lookouts at iconic landmarks such as the world-famous Three Sisters, dozens of beautiful waterfalls, glowing sandstone escarpments and far-reaching views of blue-hazed valleys, you too will be captivated by the rugged beauty of this treasure on Sydney’s doorstep. Pack a picnic and enjoy a day trip to marvel at the Three Sister rock formation from Echo Point in Katoomba.

5.)Evans Lookout

Head to Evans lookout and nearby Valley View lookout in Blue Mountains National Park if you’re seeking incredible views, especially around sunrise and sunset. It’s also a good spot to begin one of several day walks.

A brilliant introduction to the wonders of Blue Mountains National Park, Evans lookout offers breathtaking views towards Grose Valley, especially with the sandstone cliff walls glowing orange at sunset. Located near Blackheath, it’s a good spot to include in a day trip from Sydney, and a great base for adventurous bushwalkers who want to get amongst it.

Take in the clear mountain air as you trace the line of Govetts Creek winding its way through the expansive valley floor, or wander over to check out the scenery from Valley View lookout nearby.

Take in sweeping views of sheer sandstone cliffs and hazy blue Grose Valley from Govetts Leap in Blackheath.

6.)Grand Canyon Track

“Arresting sandstone walls, ever-present waterfalls and abundant native plants line the awesome Grand Canyon track near Blackheath in the Blue Mountains. The historic loop track takes you into the heart of this World Heritage-listed landscape. It’s an intimate and adventurous track which walkers have trodden since 1907.”

Setting out from Evans lookout, the well-shaded track meanders through luscious native vegetation of ferns and golden wattles and remains close to Greaves Creek, all of which combine to make this a particularly good walk for the summer months. Shorten the loop by leaving a second car at the Evans Lookout Road entrance or spend the day and stop for lunch at the nearby picnic area before returning to the lookout.

Often regarded as one of the most impressive and most enjoyable hikes in the Blue Mountains region, the Grand Canyon Walk will leave you in awe.

The track passes through lush rainforest with several creek crossings, small waterfalls, huge sandstone walls and rock overhangs along the way.

Opened to the public in 1907, the 6km long Grand Canyon walking track was the first of its kind in the Blue Mountains and has since been challenged by thousands of hiking enthusiasts each year.

Descend into the Grand Canyon. Combine a short walk with Aboriginal rock art or a swim in a natural pool near Glenbrook. Combine a short walk with Aboriginal rock art or a swim in a natural pool near Glenbrook. Mountain bike riders can tackle the famed Woodford-Oaks trail, scenic Narrow Neck or Faulconbridge Ridge trail.

7.)Fairfax Heritage walking track

Fairfax Heritage walking track offers summer wildflowers, and scenic lookouts with waterfall views over Grose Valley, in Blue Mountains National Park.Fairfax Heritage walking track meanders from the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre to the dramatic cliffs and lookouts of Govetts Leap, at Blackheath. This easy walk is perfect for families or if you’re short on time, and want to experience the Blue Mountains’ diverse vegetation and spectacular views.

The wheelchair-accessible path winds over gentle slopes, skirting the edge of a unique hanging swamp. The path then opens up to forest of peppermint and scribbly gums, dotted with grass trees. In early summer, you may see the vibrant red flowers of waratahs, as well as many other colourful wildflowers.

Nearing the cliffs at George Phillips lookout and Govetts Leap lookout, you’ll enjoy expansive views of the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park, including the Grose Valley, Govetts Gorge and Jungle Falls. There are picnic shelters at both lookouts.

Return the same way, or follow the unsealed 500m track alongside Govetts Leap Road to loop back to the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre. Drop in for information, maps, books and souvenirs of your Blue Mountains escape.

For directions, safety and practical information, see visitor info

Blackheath is a beautiful village sitting at the height of Blue Mountains’ splendour, 11km from Katoomba. You’ll find spectacular walks and lookouts, including the unrivalled Govetts Leap, as well as wonderful cafes and restaurants. Blackheath is also famous for its annual Rhododendron Festival.

Visited by Charles Darwin in 1836, on his famous Voyage of the Beagle journey, Govetts Leap Lookout is breathtaking. The nearby Blue Mountains Heritage Centre offers information on local Aboriginal and European historic sites, and a number of nearby walks descend or follow the Grose River Valley ridge, including:

About the author

Aksel Ritenis

Publisher Sydney Times