Many people know of or have been to the Blue Mountains. Set 120kms west of Sydney, this stunning national park is forested with deep ravines and breathtaking bushland. But although it is quite easy to visit and access now, it wasn’t always as simple.
For the first 25 years of colonisation in Australia, European explorers were frustrated as they could not seem to scale the huge rocks. As the colonies started to expand, it was imperative for them to conquer the mountains so that growth of townships could continue into the west.
By 1813, there was a long list of men that had tried and failed in their attempts to cross the Blue Mountains including William Paterson, George Bass, Matthew Everingham, John Wilson, Francis Barrallier, and George Caley. After the many disappointing efforts by explorers, Governor King had declared that the plight to cross the mountains must be ceased.
Finally in 1813 grazier, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth set off with four servants, five dogs and four packhorses to great success. They followed the mountain ridge tops and after 17 days they arrived at Mount York seeing the plush Western Tablelands on the other side of the Blue Mountains.
Flash forward to today and the Blue Mountains are well and truly enjoyed by all who visit them. The area is a nature and history enthusiast’s delight with well-marked walking tracks which pass streams and waterfalls, descend into pristine gorges and wind around sheer cliffs where the views are never ending and the dimensions are almost unfathomable. There are a range of operators that provide guided tours and have a wealth of knowledge to share on the area, its wild life and history.
The area’s best-known rock formation is The Three Sisters, a group of pinnacles which are best seen from Katoomba, the largest of the 26 mountain towns and villages. The other towns include Wentworth Falls (situated near a stunning waterfall of the same name) and Faulconbridge. The town of Blackheath, full of colonial history, is well known for its Rhododendron Festival held every November.
When it comes to accommodation, the Blue Mountains offer a wide choice of options to suit every taste, budget and requirement. The range of backpackers hostels are simple, yet perfect for those that will be busy off walking the trails or enjoying the history of the area.
When it comes to indulgence; the Blue Mountains offer Bed and Breakfast cottages that are truly amazing. Families are also catered for with self contained cabins, holiday houses, resorts and camping style accommodation.
The reasons for visiting the Blue Mountains are plentiful – stunning scenery, great walking trails, luxurious day spas, fun festivals, creative art galleries, and for the adrenaline junkies there’s abseiling, rock sports and four-wheel driving. It really is a destination that will appeal to every taste!
Images: Heritage Tourism Collection, Aaron Smart, Nick Rains and NSW Tourism