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Exploring the Blue Mountains, New South Wales
The Blue Mountains are easily reached from Sydney by car in about 1 hour 30 minutes. It is the perfect day trip to get right back to nature, especially after you have explored all the sights of the city. If you want to spend longer, camping is a great option or if you don’t fancy going completely back to basics then there are plenty of accommodation options from mountain chalets, to bed and breakfasts.
Katoomba is a good base to explore the Blue Mountains and at 1,030m above sea level the air smells fresh and clean. Home to many artists it has a cool bohemian feel to it. This carries over into the restaurants and coffee shops lining the main street. My favourite, the Elephant Bean Café definitely had a boho vibe, with funky art work adorning the walls and shelves full of books ready for browsing while drinking excellent barista made coffee.
Echo Point is 2km from the centre of Katoomba; the viewing platform here looks out over the southern Blue Mountains and the magnificent Three Sisters. As you gaze past the Three Sisters and out into the wilderness you will notice that a slight blue haze sits above the dramatic landscape, this is what gave the Blue Mountains their name. For a picturesque adventure take the 980 steps down Giant Stairway to the bottom of the valley, from here you can walk past Katoomba Falls and hitch a ride back to the top on the Scenic Railway. If you are feeling less energetic then I would recommend the Scenic Skyway, with its glass floor or the Cableway, which is the steepest cable car ride in the southern hemisphere. Both are found at Scenic World in Katoomba.
Echo Point and Scenic World can get quite busy with tourists but both are well worth a visit to get those all important holiday snaps. Less busy is Wentworth Falls, with plenty of walking trails, dramatic landscape, rocky overhangs and lovely viewpoints topped off with an incredible backdrop. From Wentworth Falls picnic area there are a number of different walking tracks all labelled so you can decide on the level of walk that you want to do, easy, medium or hard. My favourite walk was the overcliff – undercliff track. As the name suggests this walk weaves from rainforest to tracks under rocky overhangs, the views of the falls and the Blue Mountains are fantastic.
To really experience the wilderness and beauty of the Australian bush the Blue Mountains National Park has some great campgrounds. I stayed at Euroka campground; with walking trails to the Nepean River and cockatoos for company you can really enjoy the wilderness. It is worth noting that many of the national park campsites only have basic facilities, like Euroka, which only had a long drop toilet! This took me a while to get used to when camping in Australia but it was really worth giving up home comforts to camp in such unique unspoilt areas. Take your own water supply with you too as there is no drinking water at the campground. Once you have chosen your campsite find a spot to pitch your tent and get the campfire going. There’s nothing better than sitting out under the stars, campfire gently crackling away and just the Australian bush for company.