An insiders guide to exploring the Blue Mountains

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The Blue Mountains is one of Australia’s most beautiful regions. One hour west of Sydney, these mountains have stunning views, craggy clifftop lookouts, deep valleys and quaint townships.

The Blue Mountains were always my go-to for bushwalking adventures and family day trips. You can enter the national park for free. Hundreds of bush trails cater for beginners through to experienced hikers.  Towns such as Katoomba and Leura offer dozens of cosy weekend getaways.

The Spots

Echo Point is the vantage point for viewing the Three Sisters. For this reason, it attracts large crowds and coaches’ worth of tourists. You should visit this landmark at least once.

My top tip is to visit Govetts Leap or Evans lookouts for a spectacular view across the Grose Valley.  I stop here every time I visit the mountains to soak up the fresh air and the sound of the black cockatoos.

The Blue Mountains National Park is excellent for littlies.  Scenic World at Katoomba is one of the most accessible and kid-friendly outings in the region. It has boardwalks a railway and a skyway to explore.

The Scenic Railway is the steepest passenger rail worldwide. This train ride will take you down into the cool valley below. Listen for lyre birds and peep into old mine shafts as you follow the winding boardwalk through the valley to the skyway cablecar. The cable car takes you straight back up to the car park. Expect a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the mountains as you rise to the top.

The Walks

Smaller legs can conquer many of the walking tracks in the Blue Mountains national park. Keep an eye out for any trails to or near lookouts. They tend to be shorter, well-maintained and well sign-posted. Govetts Leap has some great tracks with picnic tables and toilet facilities by the carpark.

My favourite loop, through National Pass and the Valley of the Waters in Wentworth Falls, is better for older walkers. This walk has the works – waterfalls, rainforest, rocky crags, misty views and a café at the end.

Teenagers should try an overnight hike and camp. My personal favourites are the trails through Blue Gum Forest, and the Six Foot Track starting at Explorer’s Tree. Gutsier fans of the outdoors with plenty of experience should give canyoning and abseiling a go.

The Stays

I love staying in Blackheath, Wentworth Falls and Leura. These towns have plenty of bushwalks, and lovely little villages to explore. Check out the huge antique shop at Blackheath, with an adjoining café that does a good Eggs Benedict. Try the fresh bread from the Wentworth Falls bakery, before ducking in to the second hand book store. Browse the boutiques on Leura’s main strip, before making the unmissable pit stop to the Leura Lolly Shop.

I recommend renting a self-contained cottage in any of these areas. Lots of properties in the Blue Mountains are weekenders. You can rent them on online platforms such as Stayz. Caravan parks and cabins are also good choices.

The Extras

Check out the Blue Mountains events calendar before you go. It's often jam-packed.

I love the annual Rhododendron Festival in Blackheath. The Winter Magic Festival in Katoomba in June is also popular. Older families should check out the Sport for Jove Shakespeare Festival which happens every summer in Leura.

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