Meet the icon: Blue Mountains

Discover the mountains of New South Wales

By Destination New South Wales
Published 8 Apr 2019, 23:29 BST
The 'Three sisters' in Blue Mountains, New South Wales

The 'Three sisters' in Blue Mountains, New South Wales

Photograph by Getty Images

One of Australia's most breathtaking sights, the Blue Mountains take their name from the vast eucalyptus forests branching out across this solitary landscape, whose natural oils give off a distinctive blueish haze. From the foothills to awe-inspiring rock formations approximately 40 miles from Sydney, the World Heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains area stretches over 4,000sq miles, stirring adventure seekers with peace and isolation.

Day trips from Sydney are possible, but to truly grasp the enormity and its pristine, unadorned nature, head here for several days to explore its forested valleys, cliffs and walking trails. Catch the train from the city to Katoomba, where buses can drop you at a handful of key sights, or ride the hop-on, hop-off Blue Mountains Explorer Bus, which loops round the region's major attractions.

If you truly want to feel like a pioneer, hire a car and drive from Sydney to the Blue Mountains' fringes, pulling in to a mountain hideaway and heading out each day on a different adventure. Tick off the Three Sisters at Echo Point — the famous rock formations said to be three sisters turned to stone, according to Indigenous legend. Here, a particular light frolics on the landmark, transforming its colour throughout the day. Scale new heights and abseil down sharp rock faces; descend through shadowy canyons; wade and swim through hidden pools; and camp overnight among the mountains with stargazing that'll leave you dumbfounded. For a greater sense of paradise, soar above the region in a helicopter or a glass-floored cable car. Serene, mysterious and thrilling, the Blue Mountains deserves all the hype.

Meet the person behind the icon: Tim Tranter from Tread Lightly Eco Tours

So the Blue Mountains, what's it all about?
It's a great place to explore with millions of hectares of wilderness on your doorstep. You'll find ancient rainforest, deep gorges, 1,000ft sandstone escarpments and narrow canyons. My advice is to explore beyond the obvious: most visitors go to the classic destinations like the Three Sisters, Scenic World and Echo Point, but miss the remote lookouts and hiking trails that locals see every day.

What do the Blue Mountains mean to you?
My family moved here from the UK in 1963, and 55 years later, I'm still here. I started a sustainable ecological guiding company, Tread Lightly Eco Tours, 25 years ago. My aim was to introduce international visitors to more than just the view of the Three Sisters and the surrounding valley that I've been exploring since I was six.

What makes it so iconic?
Its unparalleled beauty and rugged landscapes, just 90 minutes from the centre of Sydney.

Tell us something unexpected
Guests are shocked by the vastness of the Blue Mountains' ancient environment, and also how accessible it all is. What's also astounding are the region's waterfalls — they never stop running, yet we have no rivers coming to us.

Watch our video of the mountains of New South Wales.

Like this? Try these…

Snowy Mountains

This may be Australia's ski and snowboard mecca, but the 'Snowies' draw an outdoorsy crowd with the promise of hiking, horse riding and cycling during the spring and summer seasons. Australia's highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko, also lures walkers to its summit at 7,310ft.

Mount Wollumbin (Tweed Region)
A sacred site steeped in Indigenous lore, this iconic peak was also named Mount Warning by Captain James Cook after he encountered offshore reefs along the coast. Today, it sits within the fabled national park where subtropical rainforests make for prime walking territory.

Mount Gower (LHI)
Tackle Lord Howe Island's highest mountain (2,870ft) on a challenging eight-hour return trek with a local guide and you'll come across some of the island's rarest flora and fauna. The summit view will leave you speechless: from the island's sapphire waters to verdant rainforests, this is paradise found.

How to do it

Fly to Sydney with Singapore Airlines from £765pp return. Singapore Airlines offers four daily flights from London Heathrow and five flights a week from Manchester with seamless connections via Singapore. 

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