Blue Mountains, Australia
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Areas in Blue Mountains
When to 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).
PlanesFly into Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport (www.sydneyairport.com.au), which handles both domestic and international flights. Don’t fancy the winding drive up the mountains? Charter a chopper through Sydney Heli Tours (www.avta.com.au) for the 45–60-minute flight from Mascot (near Sydney Airport) depending on your destination.
TrainsSydney’s CityRail service (www.cityrail.info) runs regularly between Central Station and the Blue Mountains, stopping at most of the towns and villages – including the largest, Katoomba, two hours away.
AutomobilesTo explore areas away from the train-line destinations, a car is a must. Hire one in Sydney or at its airport, where all the major players have a desk. The drive west from Sydney to Katoomba takes two hours, but you can reach the fringes of the mountains in just over an hour.
TaxisSeveral 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).
To discover native wild animals, escape to the Blue Mountains. Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley offers 4,000 acres of Jurassic Park-worthy wilderness less than three hours’ away by car (transfers are available). Charles Darwin spent time in the valley, and villas feature a tome celebrating his adventures. There’s a pool, spa and fine dining, plus expert field guides and wildlife-spotting safaris, including nocturnal forays. Look out for kangaroos, wombats, wallabies and rare albino wallaroos, plus shy platypuses. ‘Any moment watching the peculiar duck-billed platypus in the wild is to be treasured,’ says Nick. ‘It’s an Australian signature species and never gives you more than a short glimpse before ducking for cover.’ There’s also great horse-riding and mountain-biking. En route back, swing by the Three Sisters rock stacks at Katoomba.