Blue Mountains, Australia

Blue Mountains, Australia

Where are they: a part of the dividing mountain range west of Sydney
What is there to see: Wentworth Falls, Three Sisters, Scenic World
How to get there: travel by road (train or car) from Sydney
Don’t miss: Katoomba Scenic Railway, Scenic Skyway

Down Under is Australia, the world’s smallest continent famous for the vast, remote arid spaces called the “Outback” and for the attractions of its large cities such as Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, and Sydney.

Our single non-stop sixteen-hour flight, perhaps the longest, from Vancouver to Sydney is definitely worth it. Sydney is the largest city and capital of the state of New South Wales, one of the six states of the Australian federation and the most populous.

When you are in Sydney a trip to the Blue Mountains is a “must-do`. From the summit of the city`s iconic Harbour Bridge (also called the “Coathanger`), you can see a long blue range of the Blue Mountains blocking the western horizon.

Best reached and explored by car, the Blue Mountains National Park is about two-hour drive from Sydney. However, you can also get there by train and on a coach tour. Driving on the left side of the road (with the help of a GPS) is quite an experience. Majority of the vehicles here have the steering wheel on the right side.

The wilderness and beauty of the Blue Mountains can be viewed first from the peak of the `Flat Rock`lookout. Although its windy here and a little bit chilly we got to the edge of the cliff, scary but awesome, and had a few souvenir pictures taken.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Blue Mountains encompass dramatic gorges (canyons), waterfalls, rock formations, tall rainforests, caves, and hiking trails making it a popular destination for enthusiasts of rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking as well as canyoning and other adrenalin sports like abseiling (controlled descent of a vertical drop, such as a rock face, using a rope).

The mountains are literally blue because of the blue vapour (terpenoids) emitted in large quantities from the millions of eucalyptus trees (gum trees) growing there that colours the whole mountain range and even the sky blue.

We headed to the scenic three-tiered Wentworth Falls with its delicate tracery plunging into the floor of the valley.

A short drive to the west of Wentworth Falls led us to the most visited town in the Blue Mountains, Katoomba which is home to the popular Scenic World where we spent the afternoon hours to experience the Scenic Railway, the world`s steepest incline railway that whisked us down the steepest descent through a long cliff side and gorge into a rainforest ending on the valley floor. The railway is super steep but you can adjust the pitch of your seat to make it more or less intense.

Adjacent to the Scenic Railway is the Scenic Cableway, the steepest cable car in the continent that took us down on a long ride into the greater Blue Mountains world heritage tall rainforests of the Jamison Valley taking in views of the mountains` famous peaks, the `Three Sisters:`, essentially an unusual sandstone rock formation representing three sisters, (Meenhi, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo), who according to the local aboriginal legend were turned into stone.

Also at the same site is the Scenic Skyway, an aerial gondola that traverses an arm of the Jamison Valley providing breathtaking views beneath our feet through the electro-glass bottom cabin floor.

Evening was falling as we got back to Sydney.