Known for its dramatic mountain ranges, valleys and unique rainforests, it’s the perfect destination for hikers, adventure seekers and nature lovers. Just a 90min drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains boast a real look into Australia’s incredible bushland.
As a nearby Sydney-sider, I’m a regular to the mountains, visiting various times each year – and always trying to find new spots to explore. When I was younger I would visit via public transport, but it limited my options outside of the town of Katoomba. Since then, I always try to visit by car – as most of the places worth exploring are dotted all over the neighbouring suburbs. Either way, there’s still plenty to see, and here’s my favourites;
? Echo Point and the Three Sisters
The Three Sisters is the Blue Mountains most well known and remarkable landmark. Located by Echo Point, Katoomba, this iconic attraction is essentially an unusual rock formation that represents, according to Aboriginal legend, Three Sisters that were turned to stone. The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that ‘Meehni’, ‘Wimlah’ and Gunnedoo’ lived as members of the Katoomba tribe.
“These sisters had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry. The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle.
As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.” (Source: www.bluemts.com.au)
There are other legends surrounding the landmark, though this is one of the more well-known.
Echo Point is the main viewpoint of the Three Sisters, but there are various walks trailing from beside the Visitors Centre. The Three Sisters Walk is a 1km walk (taking about 30minutes), that takes you down some steep steps through the eucalyptus trees down to Honeymoon Bridge which connects to the first sister.
? Cahill’s Lookout – Sunset spot
Another underrated spot in the Blue Mountains, you won’t see this place mentioned very often. If you simply google for a sunset spot in Google Maps, this is what comes up, because in google it’s actually named “Cahill’s Lookout (sunset)”.
This spot has a small trail that leads down towards the viewpoint, but the trail itself offers incredible and undisturbed views as well. To the lefthand side there is a rock formation that I’ve yet to decide if it looks like a lion, or a wolf – but it’s beautiful.
Though it has no comparison to the Three Sisters historically, physically it’s just as spectacular to look at.
? Wentworth Falls
The most popular waterfall in the Blue Mountains, Wentworth Falls is best seen from one of the walks offered from the lookout and picnic area. The lookout doesn’t offer great views of the waterfall, but it does offer amazing views of the valley – for a better view, visitors can walk down the trail at their own pace.
The Wentworth Falls hike is perfect for all fitness levels because you can walk as little or as much as you like. There are 3 main stops on various levels of the falls, the last being the very bottom of the falls; where you can relax and even take a swim. On my journey’s there, I’ve noticed that the further down you walk, the less people there are. Most tourists, visitors and families only venture down to the first level of the falls, or the lookouts before the main trail begins.
Depending on how far you walk, some of the trail includes steep stairs (basically ladders), low overhangs, muddy paths, and some uneven ground. I wouldn’t recommend this walk to anyone who might struggle staying on their feet when clambering up and down the rocky pathways and staircases.
?♀️ Abseiling and Canyoning – High n Wild
One of the best things I’ve done in Australia as a whole, is joining in on one of these canyoning tours. Some people don’t really know what I’m referring to if I say ‘canyoning’ but basically it involves abseiling down into a canyon, wetsuit and all, and then swimming through natural made pools, jumping off of ledges and even the occasional climb down a waterfall – yes, it’s that amazing.
High n Wild runs daily tours in the Blue Mountains including Abseiling, Rock Climbing, Canyoning, Mountain Biking, Bush Survival courses and Bushwalking.
Empress Canyon Tour
- 8:45am – 4pm
- Grade: moderate
- Meeting point: the office by YHA lobby
- Provided: wetsuit, helmet, “dry” bag, lunch, drinks, photos
This tour combines abseiling and canyoning – the first half of the day is abseiling, starting with a 5metre cliff for practice, and then a 15metres cliff to a 30metre cliff. I’m a fairly confident abseiler but the 30metre one did have my heart beating.
Afterward, there’s a provided lunch of classic but delicious sandwiches and cool cordial, and then it’s down to the canyon. After walking down you put on your full body wetsuit, and then start the journey by jumping into the water and making your way through the natural canyon pools and waterslides until you reach Empress Falls. The final abseil out of the canyon is one of the best abseils in the mountains – down the 30metre Empress Falls. You’re able to put your new abseiling skills to use and slowly descend safely under the rapids of the falls.
On the tours you are provided a “wet” bag, but it’s up to you what you take. You are allowed to take your own camera as long as it is waterproof (otherwise is at your own risk) and the guides also supply a camera that can be passed around the group to later be uploaded to their facebook page.
?️ Empress Falls Hike
For those not interested in climbing down the falls, Empress Falls is also a great hiking destination. The walk is quite arduous as it basically consists of walking down stairs for the descent, and then trekking it back up, but once you reach the bottom of the canyon you can watch the other adventurers rappel down. The walk takes about 1 hour return, and you can also enjoy the panoramic views from Queen Victoria Lookout on the way.
⛰️ Jenolan Caves
Open every day, the Jenolan Caves are the largest, most spectacular and most famous caves in Australia. With various award winning cave tours, neighbouring platypuses and thrill-seeking experiences like potholing and abseiling there’s so much to experience. The caves are a little windy drives away from Katoomba, so as well as overnight stays it’s also great for a day trip. Those who aren’t that scared of small spaces can enjoy Adventure Caving – with overalls and a helmet you can “crawl and face your fears”.
For cave tours, I’ve found from experience that a great option is to book tickets for one of the extended night tours. These tours are often less crowded and also allow you to see more cave formations than on a single cave tour. The River Cave is one of my favourites as it includes an “underworld labyrinth. It features the underground ‘River Styx’ which appears as pools of blue water, including the ‘Pool of Reflections’” – a deep, illuminated, and still lake.
? Minnehaha Falls
When my friends and I got to the Blue Mountains, one of the top things on our bucketlist was to swim under a waterfall. The visitors centre didn’t seem to know a place where we could do this, but a trusty google search and a good word from the locals sent us to the little haven that is, Minnehaha Falls.
The walk itself isn’t sign-posted, so finding the entrance to the walk was difficult at first. At the end of Minnehaha Road you can find a small carpark, and from there it is just a 20-30minute walk down. The trail is mostly all downhill including some steep steps, but the walk is fairly easy. Once you reach the bottom you are welcomed into a cool picturesque sanctuary where you can pick a spot to leave your things and jump under the 20-metre cascades.
The water is pretty cold, but on a hot 35+ day it wont stop you from having a quick dip. Then you can relax under the sun on some flat warm rocks and enjoy the refreshing sounds of the falling water and echoing bird songs.
When I visited we forgot our towels, but the steep walk back up had us dry in no time.
? Pulpit Rock Viewpoint
Pulpit Rock Lookout is just a short drive away from the Grand Canyon trail and Evans Lookout. It’s a large cliff edge with three lookouts spread out on different levels connected by several sets of strs. Not only is the view of the valley spectacular, but it’s unique location built on top of the cliff-face is beautiful itself. It’s also unlike any other viewpoints around the Blue Mountains.
☀️ Lincoln’s Rock – Sunset spot
Once upon a time a night out at Katoomba’s Station Bar had us drowning in local recommendations, and this was the one I took to, and now it’s somewhere I visit every time I’m in the Mountains.. Lincoln’s Rock is a lookout not to far from Wentworth Falls. Named after a mountaineer Lincoln Hall who lived in the area, this viewpoint offers panoramic views of Jamison Valley. This flat white rock allows great photo opportunities and a perfect chance to sit down and soak in the sun. When we got there, it was a rocky dirt road until we spotted what looked like an entrance, and then a completely empty space.
The area has increased in popularity the last couple of years, especially for sunset, but at the right time more often than not it’s completely deserted.
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? Govetts Leap Viewpoint
Govetts Leap Lookout in the Blue Mountains offers views over the Grose Valley. Not only does it look out over the valley, but also over the nearby Bridal Veil Falls (or just Govetts Leap Waterfall), which cascades over the cliffside.
? Scenic World
Scenic World is one of the more well-known destinations in the Blue Mountains, and offers a range experiences all dedicated to showing everything that the Mountains have to offer. It’s the more touristy approach to seeing the Mountains, but it does offer views and experiences that aren’t available anywhere else.
The glass-bottom Skyway hangs between cliff tops and offers amazing birdseye views of the waterfall and rainforest below, as well as extended views of the Three Sisters and the valley.
The Scenic Cableway is a 545metre journey that descends into the Jamison Valley that can take visitors to and from the Scenic Walkway which offers various bushwalks.
One of the more well-known experiences is the Scenic Railway, an award-winning carriage journey at a 64degree incline (chairs are adjustable). This is one of the more favoured modes of transportation to getting down to the Walkway.
The Scenic Walkway allows visitors to get a close up experience of the Jurassic rainforest at their leisure. Scenic World hosts yearly art exhibitions (Sculptures at Scenic World), where incredibly immersive and environmentally influenced artworks and sculptures are dotted in the bushland around the Walkway.
? Silver Cascades
The Silver Cascades are located at the bottom of Victoria Falls. The walk takes about 2hours return (un-including time for swimming) and takes you down to a peaceful and picturesque swimming hole. If you’re wondering where the name comes from, this unique rocky backdrop combined with the shining sun creates and illuminated wall of ‘silver’ water.
?♀️ Hanging Rock Hike
I’ll be honest, I don’t like this hike. It’s boring. The reason I find it boring is simply because the trail there is simply a long, flat, dirt road, and takes an hour each way. It just feels like a long, never-ending road. The view at the end is spectacular, so it does outweigh the journey just a tad, but for those wanting to challenge themselves it’s probably not the best choice. The walk has been dramatically affected from Australia’s 2019 Bushfires – the vibrant green regrowth has started to bloom through, but the blue hue from the eucalyptus trees is mostly gone…
The hanging rock itself is only accessible by jumping over a small gap that drops down into the canyon, and the overhang itself is quite narrow. It’s not for everyone, and definitely not while it’s windy.
? Six Foot Track
The Six Foot Track came up quite a few times when chatting to the locals of Katoomba, and after some research I found that it is a three day 44km walking track from Katoomba to the Jenolan Caves. The Track can also be done as a day trip; you just won’t get all the way there.
? Grand Canyon Hike
This hike is incredibly underrated. This loop trail is usually pretty quiet, and has some little river crossings and waterfalls. Starting from Evans Lookout, this hike leads down into the canyon where you can walk around with each wall of the canyon towering over each side of you. From there you can explore the luscious greenery, and walk across the sandstone blocks that cross the small riverbeds. The stairs entering and exiting the canyon are the hardest parts of the walk, but once at the bottom it’s relatively flat for the rest of the trail.
? Eagle Rock Lookout – Sunset spot
Another one of my favourites, Eagle Rock Lookout is probably the no1 spot to view the Three Sisters. Not only is it away from the hustle and bustle of tourist buses and families, but it also provides a wider and deeper look over the Jamison Valley.
My last visit there was one of my favourites, picture this…
2 camping chairs, a packet of timtams, an empty viewpoint, and a pink sky over the Three Sisters and the surrounding valley. All you can hear is the faint bird songs above you and the cotton candy clouds float above you…
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What should I add to this list? I know there’s room for more! Let me know in the comments or DM on Instagram
You can check out one of my older journeys in this Youtube vid! We explored; the Three Sisters at Echo Point, Minnehaha Falls, Lincoln’s Rock, Wentworth Falls Lookout, the Jenolan Caves, and Abseiling & Canyoning down Empress Falls!