The Blue Mountains are not really mountains, nor are they blue. So why the name? I guess in Australian terms, these are mountains, although they would be dwarfed by a serious mountain range. And the “blue” label comes from the fact that you can supposedly see a bluish tinge when you are far away from the mountains. I never have.
Anyway, the Blue Mountains are well worth a visit if you want to see a beautiful World Heritage-listed natural area. There are plenty of things to do (most revolve around physical activity) although it is also a favourite spot with Sydneysiders looking to get away for a weekend.
One of the best things to do in the Blue Mountains is the Furber Steps walk. The Furber Steps walk will give you a great view of the famous Three Sisters rock formation (which is the Blue Mountains’ Kodak moment).
World's Steepest Railway
At the end of the Furber Steps walk you can also ride the famous Scenic Railway back up to the cliff top. According to the Guiness Book of Records, the Scenic Railway is the steepest railway in the world, travelling 415 m (0.25 miles) at a staggering 52 degree elevation. It’s quite a unique experience and well worth a ride. Tickets are $8 AUD one way. Access to the Furber Steps bushwalking trail itself is from the Katoomba Falls Kiosk, Cliff Drive, Katoomba. Admission is free.
Arts and Crafts in Katoomba
Katoomba is a gorgeous little town in the heart of the Blue Mountains with plenty of arts and craft stores and relaxed cafes. I highly recommend the vegie burger from Niche Nosh (10 Katoomba St, Katoomba) - even if you love meat. They’ve got a sign out the front saying it’s the best vegie burger in Australia and they may just be right.
Mountain Bike Tours
Another great way to see the area is with a mountain bike tour of the Blue Mountains. Everything is provided for you including a mountain bike, helmet, lunch and a couple of expert guides. The best part is that there are no long hill climbs.
A great ride is the Narrowneck ride which takes you around the refreshing and green Jamison Valley. Typically a bike day tour of the Blue Mountains starts at 9 am and ends at 4:30 pm. Blue Mountains mountain bike tours are offered through the Blue Mountains Adventure Company, River Deep Mountain High or OzTrails.
You can also go on (outdoor) rock-climbing tours of the Blue Mountains. On a one-day tour, you will do about four different climbs of increasing height, the last being about 40 metres (131 ft). The instructors are very professional and use only high-quality ropes and gear. It’s a lot of fun and certainly a day you will remember.
Abseiling and Canyoning
Finally, you can also go on abseiling / canyoning tours of the Blue Mountains. (Canyoning is a combination of hiking, river wading and abseiling). These are a lot of fun. As with the rock climbing tours, you work your way up to increasingly high abseils, the ultimate being a 30 metre (98 ft) abseil down a waterfall into a pool of fresh clear water.
How To Get To The Blue Mountains By Train
CityRail trains leave Sydney’s Central Station (right next to the YHA Sydney Central backpacker accomodation hostel) almost hourly for Katoomba. Train tickets cost $11.40 AUD one-way.
How To Get To The Blue Mountains By Car
Head west from downtown Sydney along Parramatta Road, then the M4 toll-road motorway and finally the Great Western Highway.