Sitting some 90 minutes west of Sydney the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains attracts some 12 million visitors annually. The Greater Blue Mountains Area consists of seven national parks and conservation areas but the main drawcard is the Three Sisters - three pillars of weathered sandstone standing precariously and proud at Echo Point. There’s cafes and restaurants in Katoomba and Leura for lunch or afternoon tea and the highways that get you there from Sydney make it hard to believe this was once a day long journey on horseback and dirt roads.
We went up in July for a nice Winter’s day out and some fresh mountain air and more specifically, to conquer our (my girlfriend’s) fear of heights. The creatively named Scenic World offers views of the Three Sisters and surrounds from their Railway, Skyway or Cableway which either snake down the side of, or dangle over the gorges that the Blue Mountains are famous for. Luckily they don’t prove to be too precarious - I think the size and stability somewhat offsets the notion that you’re hanging in the air from a wire. There are also accessible boardwalks through the rainforest with information of the areas mining past but be prepared for queues if you’re there on the last weekend of July school holidays as we were.
Cold and queued-out we opted for a quick lunch in Katoomba courtesy of the local bakery before a brief stop with the other hordes of tourists at Echo Point. There’s free parking if your follow the road round past Echo Point (you saw it here first!) and spend a few minutes walking back. The three sisters are pretty spectacular and there are a couple of different walks that take you along the cliff tops or steeper ones that venture down and through the forrest.
For afternoon tea we stopped in at Leura and browsed the fancy shops that seem to cater for the Sydneysiders and well-heeled tourists drawn to the area. It’s a nice little town and there’s even a lolly shop selling hard to find candies from all over the world for those in need of a childhood reminder of home.
We jumped back in the car as the sun started to retreat in the West, and were back in Sydney relaxed and in time for dinner. Maybe Sydney’s not so bad after all…