I lost some of my photos of Blue Mountains that accidentally got deleted from the SD card! Thanks to Brad Chilby (www.chilby.com.au) for sharing some of his photos with me for this post.
I drove to the Blue Mountains with my Swedish friend Sofia Max (@i_play_sofiamax) who has been living in Sydney for a few years now. We were doing a road trip of New South Wales, and Blue Mountains was our first stop. We had rented a compact SUV from AVIS car rental and even though everything had sold out, we were very lucky to get a brand new Nissan just the last moment. Sofia picked up the rental car from Manly, a beach-side suburb of northern Sydney and drove all the way to Glenwood where I was staying, another suburb 33 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district. From Glenwood, Blue Mountains is a distance of about 50 kms that can be covered in an hour's time depending on traffic. We stopped over in Katoomba for the night, a chief town in the city of Blue Mountains, from where we were able to drive to all the major attractions including the “Three Sisters” and the Katoomba Cascades. Here are some of the things to do in Blue Mountains:
1. Lily's Pad café, Leura
Leura is a suburb of the city of Blue Mountains situated adjacent to Katoomba, the largest center in the upper mountains. We stopped for lunch at a quaint café called Lily's Pad in Leura on our way to Katoomba. The café had excellent reviews on google. We were not disappointed! The café serves all-day breakfast and lunch, plus housemade breads and cakes. It also has a small gallery space for photo exhibitions. After savoring a delicious lunch of vegetables and salads, and scones for dessert, we headed to our motel in Katoomba. Scones is a Katoomba speciality that must not be missed!
2. Sky Rider Motor Inn, Katoomba
We were booked at the Sky Rider Motor Inn in Katoomba, a family owned budget B&B that I had found online on www.agoda.com. The motel had a friendly and warm atmosphere and was very well located. It was just a few minutes’ drive from all major attractions and restaurants including the famous "Three Sisters".
3. Katoomba Cascades
After settling in at the Inn, we drove to the Katoomba cascades. Our research showed that the cascades made a scenic destination to a great short walk and offered some of the best views in the Blue Mountains. This short walk starts at Katoomba Falls Park on Cliff Drive. We quickly headed down to the cascades only to be thoroughly disappointed. It had not rained in this part of Australia for a long time and there was hardly any water to make any kind of cascades or waterfalls! There were still some tourists clicking pictures in the mud and slush formed by the little water that was trickling down the rocks!
4. Katoomba Falls
Our next stop in the Blue Mountains was the Katoomba Falls. It took us about 40 minutes to walk down to the falls through lush rainforest. The falls had a little more water than the cascades but honestly, I enjoyed the hike through the forests more than the waterfalls itself!
5. Three Sisters
The Three Sisters are an unusual rock formation close to the town of Katoomba and towering above Jamison Valley. They are the most popular tourist destination in the Blue Mountains. Their names are Meehni (922 m), Wimlah (918 m), and Gunnedoo (906 m).
The legend of the Three Sisters is that the three sisters lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe. They fell in love with three men from another tribe, whom they could not marry. The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters. A major tribal battle ensued, and the sisters were turned to stone by an elder to protect them, but he was killed in the fighting and no one else could turn them back.
6. Cahill's Lookout
Since Three Sisters tends to get crowded, we spent most part of our first evening at the Cahill's Lookout, a popular spot for sunset viewing and voted as one of the best lookouts in the Blue Mountains. It also has a picnic area overlooking a valley. There were only a handful of tourists when we arrived at the lookout and the views were just spectacular, even though remnants of the 2014 bushfire from which Cahill's Lookout suffered great damage, could be seen at places. We ended our evening here.
7. Govetts Leap Lookout
I had seen some bloggers post pictures of the Govetts Leap Lookout that had awakened my own interest in visiting the place. It is known for its World Heritage view across the Grose Valley. Even though we missed the sunrise, the lookout did not disappoint. It was about a 30-40 minutes drive from our motel. Once we arrived at the lookout, my friend discovered that she had forgotten her jacket at the motel and drove back while I stayed at the lookout enjoying the views and the peace of the mountains. My friend returned after about an hour and we drove back to Katoomba to take some more pictures of the Blue Mountains from the Katoomba Cascades. When we arrived at the cascades, we discovered that I had left my tripod and ND filters at the Govetts Leap Lookout! We then drove back to the lookout and I recovered my things from the visitor center there!
8. Kanangra National Park
Kanangra National Park is part of Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area near Jenolan Caves and borderline with Blue Mountains. it is definitely worth a visit while visiting Blue Mountains.