I don’t know why they call them the Blue Mountains? The most asked question during our short trip to this part of the Blue Mountains National Park. We were blessed enough to spend a few days in the Blue Mountains in January, home of the famous Three Sisters. The visibility was excellent during our stay and probably the reason why there was only a faint blue tinge over the far distant mountains when we got to all the lookouts.
Lady Carrington Drive and lookout point are named after Lady Cecilia Carrington, the wife of Lord Charles Carrington, a former governor of New South Wales. Lady Carrington herself inaugurated the drive in 1886, and it’s popular as a walking and cycling path.
From one of the lookout points, we also got a good view of the Thee Sisters, one of the top 20 Australian landmarks. The legend is that the three sisters from the Katoomba tribe fell in love with three brothers from the neighbouring Nepean tribe, but marriage was forbidden. The three brothers then tried to take them by force and in the battle that ensued an elder turned the sisters to stone to protect them. But the elder was killed in the battle and no one was able to turn the sisters back. Some claim that the legend is not an original Aboriginal legend. Either ways, it’s still interesting.
Blue Mountains Accommodation and Transport
While planning a trip to Australia, the Blue Mountains were the first to go on our list. Then we looked at a few Blue Mountains rentals and opted to stay in an AirBnB house on Lurline Street in Katoomba. This was ideally suited as it was a 25 minute walk from the railway station.
Another option is to stay in the nearby city of Sydney, Australia and do the 1.5 hours drive from there.
We purchased tickets for the Hop on Hop off bus that runs around Katoomba, Leura and Wentworth Falls. This is a great option if you have a short amount of time and want to see as much as possible. They also say that they run all day every day but as we found out the hard way this means Mon – Sun from 9am to 5pm.
As it was summer sunset was quite late and we found ourselves having to walk back on the first evening as we just missed the last bus. So if you would like to explore the Katoomba area later than 5 pm, which of course, most of us do, it’s a pretty good idea to rent a car.
Luckily, we had walked from Furber Steps (only 996 steps) along the Federal Pass to the Giant Stairway (all 998 steps) ending at Echo Point. So only a short walk back to our accommodation.
The Federal pass was quite an easy walk with beautiful cascades along the way. We saw a few people stopping for a break there.
Accessibility and Scenic World
As nature lovers and keen hikers, the Blue Mountains was one of the main highlights of our trip down under. With days’ worth of hiking trails, you will not be left wanting. Even if you find walking or hiking difficult there are a lot of areas around that are accessible with the same jaw dropping views.
Scenic World definitely makes the Blue Mountains accessible for everyone. They have a Skyway, Walkway, Cableway and Railway to make the Blue Mountains enjoyable for everyone. Even if hiking or nature isn’t your thing at least you can say you have been on the world steepest railway line at an impressive 52 Degree incline. We just couldn’t justify spending the extra $39 per person when we were more interested in the hiking in any case. Nothing to do about the fact that I am not keen on heights!
Empress Falls versus Wentworth Falls
If you are able we highly recommend doing at least some of the walking trails to get the best views and scenery. Some require a bit of stamina to walk up and down the mountain faces but there are walks that easy. The Prince Henry Cliff Walk which is mainly flat and easy walking. This gives you incredible views from different vantage points along the cliff face out towards the mountain ranges.
For us the best place we found was Empress Falls. Other than it being one of the most spectacular waterfalls that you can get up close to, I think a main reason why it was our favorite was that we had the whole place to ourselves.
The day before when we hiked from the Furber steps to the Giant Stairway we heard a lot of people shouting. They must have been testing out the Echo Point.
You must be thinking why not the Wentworth Falls? We left early on the second day to walk from Fairmont Resort to Wentworth Falls. On the Hop on Hop off bus they drop you off at 9.25 and this then gives you just under 3 hours to get the shuttle back to Katoomba at 12.15. The walk is well worth it as you get to see a different side to the Blue Mountains rather than the more visited places around Katoomba.
By the time we made it to Wentworth Falls we didn’t have much time left before the shuttle was due. After such a peaceful and quiet walk to Wentworth Falls it was too big a shock to the system when we arrived at Wentworth Falls and were surrounded by hordes of people. Safe to say we didn’t need to spend a lot of time at Wentworth Falls. We did go during the week so there were a lot less people than if you were to go on a weekend.
If you, like us, prefer to be surrounded by nature rather than a lot of noisy and inconsiderate tourist then put on your hiking shoes and venture out onto the many less accessible trails.
At least on these trails if you do encounter other people, more likely than not, they will have the same goal as you.