This spectacular and vast mountain range, with its misty blue haze, craggy clifftop lookouts, deep valleys and quaint townships, is one of Australia’s most beautiful and famed icons. Having grown up in Sydney as a lover of the outdoors, for me the Blue Mountains were always a go-to for bushwalking adventures and family daytrips. You can enter the national park for free, which gives your family access to countless networks of walking trails, fascinating and educational visitor centres, and cozy weekend getaways.
Echo Point, the vantage point for viewing the Three Sisters, is the probably the better known of the Blue Mountains lookouts. For this reason, it attracts large crowds and coaches’ worth of tourists. You should definitely visit this well-known landmark at least once to cross it off your bucket list. But for the best views, and fewer people, head to Govetts Leap or Evans lookouts for a spectacular outlook across the Grose Valley. Every time I visit the Mountains I stop in here if I can to soak up the fresh mountain air and the sound of the black cockatoos!
The Blue Mountains National Park is excellent for littlies. Thanks to its boardwalks, railway and skyway options, one of the most accessible and kid-friendly outings is to Scenic World at Katoomba. Start off by taking the thrilling Scenic Railway, the steepest passenger rail worldwide, down in to the valley to the soundtrack of Indiana Jones. You can then listen out for lyre birds and peep in old mine shafts as you follow the winding boardwalk to the skyway cablecar, which will transport you straight back up to the car park with a breathtaking bird’s eye perspective of the mountains.
Smaller legs will also be able to conquer many of the walking tracks in the national park. Keep an eye out for any trails to or near lookouts as they tend to be shorter, well-maintained and well sign-posted. Govetts Leap has some great tracks to follow for as little or long as you like, and has picnic tables and toilet facilities by the carpark.
If you’re a little older and a budding bushwalker, then test out my favourite loop, which takes you down National Pass and the Valley of the Waters in Wentworth Falls. I have done this walk more times than I can count because it has the works – the waterfalls, the rainforest, the rocky crags, the misty views and best of all, the café at the end! There are heaps of steep stairs going up and down so this walk is better suited to the experts.
For teenage families searching for even more of an adventure, 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.
I love staying in Blackheath, Wentworth Falls and Leura. All three spots have plenty of bushwalks nearby, 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 would recommend renting a self-contained cottage in any of these areas – lots of properties in the Blue Mountains are weekenders so can easily be rented through online platforms like Stayz. Caravan parks and cabins are also good choices.
It is worth looking at events that are on in the area as the Blue Mountains social calendar is jam-packed! I enjoy the Rhododendron Festival which happens annually in Blackheath, and although I’ve never visited, the Winter Magic Festival is a popular hit at Katoomba in June every year. For older families, you might want to check out the Sport for Jove Shakespeare Festival which happens every summer in Leura. You are guaranteed to see a fantastic show.
Keep reading about the Blue Mountains and other awesome National Parks here: