Katoomba Blue Mountains
Are you going to be in Sydney and planning to go to the Blue Mountain but you don’t know how much time is reasonable or you don’t know where to go?
If you love the peace and calm and breathtaking scenery you are going to love the Blue Mountains, it is absolutely stunning. So close to Sydney but feels so far away.
The Blue Mountain is 10,000sq km of World Heritage National Park and it’s only an hour and a half drive west of Sydney. It’s like the Grand Canyons of Australia.
When you arrive at Katoomba Blue Mountains you are surrounded by stunning geological features, gorgeous waterfalls, and abundant rainforest. The relaxed atmosphere of the Katoomba town itself is for me, one of the biggest reasons I keep going back.
Getting around Katoomba
Katoomba is the most perfect and ideal location to stay if you are going to the Blue Mountain. Katoomba is an Aboriginal word meaning “Valley of the Waters” The town of Katoomba was initially developed in the 1860’s as a service town for the railway and it soon became a thriving tourist destination in the 20th century.
Don’t have a car? It’s not a problem, you can take the train from Sydney and when you get there you don’t need a car to get around. There are Trolly Tours that will take you to all the fabulous places. There are 29 trolley bus stops so you can hop on and hop off all day at any stop. For more information go to http://www.trolleytours.com.au/ If you travel on a Sunday it will cost you only $2.50 Return on the Family Funday Sunday ticket.
What to do in Katoomba
Once you reach Katoomba station there is an information centre at Echo Point and you can start by seeing the famous iconic Three Sisters. It is fairly easy to get around Katoomba as everything is clearly signposted.
During the Easter break we enjoyed 2 great nights in the Blue Mountain with a large group of friends, some of which had come to visit all the way from New Zealand.
We used Stayz to book accommodation for 2 nights for 16 people. I’ve used Stayz quite a bit as I prefer self-contained accommodation. After we did the booking we were put in direct contact with the owner which was great as we were able to make enquiries without booking.
Our three day trip was excellent. We had a great time and managed to see everything on our itinerary. It is the perfect holiday escape from everyday life’s busy routine.
There is a lot more to Katoomba than the 3 Sisters and I’m going to share with you of all the things we did while visiting the Blue Mountain during our 3 day / 2 night stay.
If you have the time and love being outdoors, i would suggest at least spending 2 nights in Katoomba like we did.
Katoomba Blue Mountains Attractions in 3 days
We left Sydney on Wednesday afternoon and reached Katoomba Blue Mountains in just over 1 hour. We took the M4 Motorway out of Sydney (starting at Stathfield) which is the most direct route and takes less than 2 hours. If you prefer to take a more scenic route then you can go through Hawkesbury along Bells Line of Road. This scenic route begins at Richmond in Sydney’s north west, traveling via Kurrajong, Mount Tomah, Bell and Mount Victoria. It’s a lovely drive and this route will take you a little over two hours but you will pass through some lovely towns on the way to the Blue Mountain. This is the perfect route if you want to do a road trip and see as much as possible and it also means you can stop off at the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens at Mount Tomah which is beautiful and so worth it.
Our Accomodation at Katoomba Blue Mountains
We reached our accommodation and loved the place straight away. we stayed at a place called the Pines. There was room for everyone!. The house was clean and comfortable and was fully equipped and provided everything we needed from heating, kitchen, bathroom and laundry supplies. The house had enough beds to accommodate all of us quite comfortably. I would recommend this house as it’s good for a large group. The property was located in a beautiful whisper quiet street with nice bush views and close to the main tourist spots.
Have you stayed at the Pines?
We spent the rest of Day 1 relaxing and doing a lot of catching up. We sent the boys to do the shopping to stock up for the next couple of days. Coles and Aldi is not too far only a few km so you don’t need to worry about groceries until you arrive.
Echo Point Katoomba was our first stop
You will absolutely fall in love with this place. Echo Point is one of the best and most famous lookout point for viewing the incredible vastness and beauty of the Blue Mountains . From here you get incredible sights of The Three Sisters, one of the most recognizable formations in the world towering above the majestic Jamieson Valley at 900 meters above sea level.
There are loads of bush walks or hikes you can do with breathtaking scenery, stunning waterfalls etc. If you love photography and want to capture some great shots then maybe you want to revisit Echo Point during different times of the day. This allows you to capture the light on the same scene being photographed. e.g. taking the photos at Sunrise and at Sunset will give you two completely different perspectives.
Parking at Echo Point
The Three Sisters are one of the Blue Mountains well known geological features. It can get very busy here so parking can be difficult to find if you want free parking so you may need to walk a bit. You may find parking in the streets immediately around the Three Sisters area. The closer parking does have pay and display your ticket at Echo point, I don’t think it’s very expensive though.
Katoomba Blue Mountains Bush Walks / Hikes
There are easy walking tracks surrounding the lookout including Prince Henry Cliff Walk and The Giant Stairway that will take you from Echo Point to Scenic World.
Have you visited the Blue Mountains?
Did you do any of the walks?
Still Day 2…Why Scenic World could be one of the highlights of your trip to Sydney this year
Next onto Scenic World (blue Mountain’s premier tourist attraction)
After seeing the lovely Echo point we headed out to the Scenic World. Scenic World is open from 9am till 5pm. I would say you need at least a couple of hours here.
Be warned…During the main public holidays (Easter and Christmas) they have a ticketing system weather you pay online or at the desk. After purchasing your ticket you be allocated a session time which means you could have to wait 1 to 2 hours after purchasing your tickets. They do this to ensure smooth running of the rides and the place doesn’t get overcrowded. On public holidays it best to arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Katoomba Blue Mountains Scenic World: A bit of history…
Scenic World started in 1945 when Harry Hammon and his sister took over the old coal mine railway and turned it into a passenger carrying tourist attraction. Today you can still head into the Jamieson Valley on the steepest inclined railway in the world.
When you’ve finished exploring the valley floor take the 545 metre ride back to the top on the Scenic Cableway.
After that you can take the Scenic Skyway which will take you on an incredible journey across the Valley 270 metres above ancient revines and dazzling waterfalls. The views are breathtaking and each cabin has the world’s first electro scenic glass floor.
Scenic World Entry price
To be honest I was expecting the prices to be high but I was quite surprised. If you buy a ticket for the full family or a large group, the charges work out to be quite reasonable. A Family Pass is $77 for the full day which covers two adults and up to five children. You get unlimited rides on everything for the full day which is really exiting for the kids.
Have you been to Scenic World?
Which was your favourite ride and why?
Here’s a bit more information about each of the different rides at Scenic World.
The Scenic Railway
We took the scenic railway which takes you down into the rainforest. This was my favourite ride. Why? It is the steepest railway in the world which takes you down into a 160 million year old rainforest. The best part is the dark tunnel. Your kids will be screaming that they want to do it again! The ride is very short but such a great thrill. Like me you will probably want to do it again and again. It actually feels like a rollercoaster ride but in slower motion however, the exciting part is the steep descent down into Jamieson Valley. You literally feel like you’re hanging on for your dear life and to make it even more scary… if your daring enough that is, you can tilt your seat even more further forward to a 64 degree incline (they call this the “cliffhanger” position) but don’t worry, if your not feeling that brave you can adjust the tilt to make it less steep too (they call this the “laidback” position)
Once you reach the bottom you can explore the scenic walkway, enjoy a picnic and then ride back up on either the scenic railway again or the scenic cableway, the choice is yours. We spent I would say a good one and a half hours by which time you and the kids will be hungry and you may be in need of a coffee and a bite to eat. You can visit the cafe once you reach the top and sit and enjoy beautiful views across to the Three Sisters. After that you can ride and ride again!
Scenic Railway: A bit of history…
The world famous Scenic Railway started of as a tram-line and was originally built for the coal mine here to carry coal and kerosene shale from mines at the bottom of the Katoomba escarpment to the main railway at the top. It all started in 1878 and it ran until 1930. It’s been turned into a tourist attraction since and there is now the Scenic Cableway and Scenic Skyway from which you can get fantastic views from.
Coal mine seams were very visible around here and there were about 40 mines on the area so it made it very easy for miners to start digging into the hillside in order to extract coal from the seam.
It must have been really hard for them to have built such a steep railway especially in the 1800’s. The work must have been labor-intensive and the equipment crude.
During the Second World War many American military troops would come to Katoomba Blue Mountains. It became popular to ask for a lift up in the railway.
A man named Harold Hammon came up with a genius idea in 1944 to use the railway simply as a recreational purpose. Ever since then it has grown into a booming tourism business and it’s still owned by the Hammon’s family.
Scenic Railway Facts
Length: 415 metres
VerticalDrop: 206 metres
Steepest Incline: 52 degrees
Length of Natural Tunnel: 80 metres
The Scenic Walkway
As soon as you arrive onto the beautiful floor of the Jamieson Valley rainforest you will feel awesome.
Before heading on back up I would definitely recommend exploring the Scenic Walkway, It is the longest elevated boardwalk in Australia, that immerses visitors through the amazing rainforest deep into the Jamison Valley. It stretches for a total of 2.4km and it is child friendly.
Here you can have a look at the historic coal mines and beautiful plants and fauna. You will also see amazing views of the iconic Three Sisters. It’s quite enjoyable actually and very peaceful and quiet. Once you’re done you can walk along to the Scenic Railway for the ride back up or you can take the Scenic Cableway.
The Scenic Cableway
Okay, so if your not feeling confident taking the Scenic Railway, don’t worry as there is another option for you. The Scenic Cableway at Scenic World is the largest in Australia. It is fully enclosed and will take you on an impressive ride across the Canyon. It offers panoramic views of the Blue Mountains heritage park. The journey is half-a-kilometre long and takes you down into Jamieson Valley offering views of the Three Sisters, Orphan Rock, Mt Solitary and Katoomba Falls.
Now you can come straight back up if you want to or you can have a wonder along the boardwalk called the Scenic Walkway.
No where else in the world can you experience the thrill than that of the Scenic Skyway. At 270 metres you are suspended in midair over jurassic rainforests as you glide smoothly across the sky, with amazing 360 degree bird’s eye views all around and down into the ravines below and to the Three Sisters and gorgeous Jamison Valley. The skyway is the highest in Australia. It gives you an opportunity to view this beautiful world heritage area from a different vantage point. It has a glass floor which you can stand on that gives you a view of the top of the canopy of the rainforest.
The ride takes you on a 720 metre journey. You can disembark and enjoy some of the bush trails at the far end. You have to see the famous Katoomba falls from here (see photo below) you wont be disappointed. Once you are done then ride back to Scenic World where you’re ready to ride the Scenic Railway or Scenic Cableway.
So there you have it, Day 2 was packed full of adventure and fun. A great day for everyone and taking home lots of lovely memories. We will be back again Scenic World.
Wentworth Falls Lake
Hidden along Sinclair Crescent is a small lake known as Wentworth Falls Lake. This was our first stop this beautiful morning. This place is close to the Pines where we were staying. It’s just so serene and beautiful here and a great place for a picnic. There is plenty of parking and it has a lovely lake. You will see plenty of bird life here and as you wonder the park you will see some nice sandstone creations that form the Wentworth Falls Lake sculptures.
There is a lovely one kilometer circuit walk around the Lake that you can do and the kids can ride their bikes or scooter.
We saw local families, tourists, walkers, boaters and people out doing a spot of fishing. The lake is a perfect spot to do a bit of kayaking as the lake is calm and still. If you have children their going to love it here too. There are two fantastic playgrounds. My girls really enjoyed playing at the Pirate Ship Playground.
There is a covered BBQ Area here too with lots of seating area however you will need to get here early to get a spot as there are only a couple available.
Have you been to Wentworth Falls Lake?
Did you like the place?
Still Day 3…Wentworth Falls
This is an incredible place. We’ve heard so many good things about Wentworth Falls so this was definitely a place we had to visit.
We visited on the Good Friday morning. Parking was a bit of a nightmare but we managed to get a spot as someone else was pulling away.
I would suggest exploring some of the many walks here, you’ll certainly be glad you did. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible for us to do many of the walking tracks firstly because we had small children and secondly it was our last day and the kids were exhausted from the trip. However i will talk about them here and this is something i definitely want to do next time maybe without the kids or when they are a bit older.
The great thing about this place is that you can choose a walk to suit your time, ability and interest.
Wentworth Falls Lookout Points
Not far from the carpark are the Jamieson and Wentworth Falls lookouts. These are the two walks with easy access to views which are the ones we did. From these lookouts you will see the great Jamieson Valley. There is not a great deal of view of Wentworth Falls from the Wentworth Falls lookout so head down hill on Wentworth Falls Track. It is an hour return to the top of Wentworth falls and It’s worth it! If your not up for the 1 hour return walk then you have two options:
1. You can do a short walk to Princess Rock Lookout (20 minutes return) It has good views of the falls and would be suited for families with small children.
2. You can do the 40 minute return to Fletechers Lookout instead. It’s a steep walk down the Wentworth Falls track to a cliff-edge lookout, looking down onto the top of the falls. You can return the same way or come back past Weeping or Princess Rock for a longer walk. You can get a good view of the falls from here.
We managed to do about 15 minutes of the walk but then had to return as the kids were tired. Although there are a lot of stairs it can be navigated by most. Before you reach the top of the falls take a small detour to the left and check out Weeping Rock.
A small word of caution…
The walk to the falls is easy but coming back up can give you a good workout and can be very hard work especially for the elders. It is no good for prams or wheelchairs.
Upon reaching the top of the falls, to your right the falls plunge into the valley below. To your left are the Queens Cascades. If you proceed beyond the top of the falls you enter the National Pass and start your descent into the valley below. This part of the track is steep in parts and is not recommended for small children.
The track is essentially built on the side of the cliff and offers some stunning views of the Falls and the Jamieson Valley. Make sure you take plenty of water and a jacket as the weather can change without warning. It’s also a good idea to carry a backpack so you can have your hands free for holding on to the stair railings. Once you reach the bottom of the stairs you are about half way down the falls. Here is where you can take a breath and really admire the scenery. This is as far as most people go when they visit Wentworth Falls.
When leaving this part of the falls, you have 3 choices. Either climb the stairs you just came down, continue on the National Pass to the Conservation Hut (a great spot for a picnic or cafe meal) or travel to the very bottom of the falls via Slack’s stairs (a series of steep stairs and ladders, not for the faint hearted).
Two ways to get back to the top are to continue through the valley along the Wentworth Pass (approx 4 hours return) or re-climb Slack’s stairs, turn left at the top and go along the National Pass (approx 3 hours).
Well that’s the end of this article. We hope you’ve found it helpful.
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