Blue Mountains Overview
- Soaring sandstone peaks
- Country life
- Natural highs
Sydneysiders have been in the know for years now, hightailing it to the Blue Mountains for indulgent weekends of wildlife spotting, antiques shopping and gallery-hopping.
Virtuous visitors hike along bush paths to breath-catching vantage points or tour the majestic valleys on horseback, while others focus their attention on the stellar food and wine scene. Though tourists flock to the Blue Mountains National Park and the hub towns of Katoomba, Leura and Wentworth Falls, there are plenty of peaceful pockets away from the postcard sights.
Beautifully Blue Mountains
Considered a living fossil or a dinosaur tree, the Wollemi Pine was believed to have died out many years ago, but in 1994 a small pocket of them was found in a narrow canyon in the Wollemi National Park. To protect the rare trees, the exact location of the site is a closely guarded secret, but you can see younger specimens at the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden (www.mounttomahbotanicgarden.com.au).
- Several cab companies cover different areas of the Blue Mountains. From Wentworth Falls to Mount Victoria, try Katoomba-Leura Radio Cabs (02 4782 1311); between Hazelbrook and Lawson, call Blue Mountains Taxi Cabs (02 4759 3000).
- Tipping culture
- Like most parts of Australia, tipping is not expected, although leaving a 10 per cent gratuity is always appreciated.
- Siesta and fiesta
- Most stores open seven days a week, often from 10am. After 10pm you'll be lucky to find a kitchen open anywhere in the Mountains, and pubs and bars will base closing time on how many punters are still buying drinks.
- Packing tips
- Worn-in hiking boots, extra memory cards for your camera (to document all the dramatic views on offer) and Berocca so you can get up for the spectacular sunrises.
- Recommended reads
- After Sydney was colonised, many tried to cross the natural barrier of the mountains to access the fruitful plains beyond, but it wasn’t until May 1813 that an intrepid trio made it. Blaxland-Lawson-Wentworth, 1813 by Joanna Armour Richards tells their story.
- With rugged terrain dotted by fertile ridges, small food producers have flourished in the Blue Mountains. The area has also been influenced by the Slow Food Movement and was granted Cittaslow status in 2007. Fresh-picked chestnuts, walnuts and apples are a must-try from farm-gate stalls, Black Angus cattle happily graze in the Megalong Valley, and homespun delights include jam and honey.
- Australian dollars (AU$).
- Time zone
- GMT +10 hours.
- Dialling codes
- The international code for Australia is 61. Blue Mountains: 02 (drop the zero if calling from overseas).
- Do go/don't go
- The Blue Mountains’ cool climate makes for a refreshing summer retreat, but chillier winter days can still be sunny with blue skies – plus you’ll find trails and look-outs less crowded. Weekends are busy with city daytrippers, but even during winter when the temperature really drops, it’s still worth visiting to experience Yulefest (aka Christmas in July).
Don't go home without...
enjoying a post-trek refuel at the Candy Store (02 4782 5190; www.candystore.com.au), Shop 6, 178 The Mall, in upmarket Leura village. The walls are lined with jars of old-fashioned treats such as rock candy, saltwater taffy and eucalyptus drops.