At the end of the Triassic period – roughly 205 million years ago – episodes of volcanism resulted in the uplifting of the valley and weathering of the soil formation. Through these episodes, mountains were built by rivers, and due to the movement of the earth, the shallow sea shifted inwards. By roughly 170 million years ago, the sands stopped being deposited. However, around one million years ago, studies found that mountains formed during the Pliocene Epoch as part of the Kosciusko Uplift.
Come 1788, Governor Phillip originally named the formations Carmarthen Hills and Landsdowne Hills; however, it wasn’t long after this that the iconic blue haze was spotted, resulting in the change of name to the Blue Mountains. The blue haze is created by the oil from the abundance of eucalyptus trees combined with the dust particles, water vapour and the rays of light that shine across the region. However, due to rough terrain and a lack of resources, it wasn’t until gold was discovered in the Bathurst district during the 1850s that the mountains began to see travellers passing through the developing region. By 2000, the Greater Blue Mountains were announced as a UNESCO World Heritage Area.
Although Governor Phillip seemed to be the pioneer, naming the Blue Mountains, it is the Australian Aboriginals who were the first to inhabit the region. To the Gundungurra people, the creation story tells of the epic battle between the Mirigan and Garangatch (half fish and half reptile).
Travelling through the Blue Mountains National Park, there is plenty to see and do, from heading to Bluff Lookout to taking a zig-zag walk through the Zig Zag Walking Track and exploring the ruins of the Old Pilgrim Inn. At the foot of the Hawkesbury Lookout, you can find a well-preserved ancient rock carving that is commonly known as ‘the flight of the Great Grey Kangaroo’. With the abundance of falls, lookouts and rainforests that will take you into the Blue Mountain Botanic Gardens to explore, there are also some attractions nearby the park, including the Railway Museum, the Springwood Golf Course and many galleries.
One of the most iconic and most spectacular landmarks in this region is the Three Sisters. Located at Echo Point Katoomba, the Aboriginal legend behind this rock formation states that three sisters in the Katoomba tribe fell in love with three brothers from the neighbouring Nepean tribe. As tribal law forbid them to see each other, the brothers caused a large battle resulting in a witch doctor turning the girls into stone to protect them from the battle, with the intention to reverse the spell upon conclusion of the battle; however, he too was killed, resulting in the three sisters forever frozen in time.
Your ultimate one-stop shop at Lookout Echo Point is the Milkbar. Serving breakfast, lunch and delights for your afternoon journey, you can enjoy homemade freshly baked sandwiches, pastries, pies, ice cream and donuts. Whether you dine in or take your food to the nearby Three Sisters, there’s no place more convenient.
Milkbar, 33 Echo Point Rd, Katoomba NSW, Australia, +61 2 4782 3653
With tremendous views across the Wollemi National Park, in the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens, the Tomah Gardens Restaurant is a restaurant serving up the highest quality of local produce. With meals to appeal to all, you can eat your meal and enjoy the rural surrounds of Mount Tomah and nearby Bilpin too.
Tomah Gardens Restaurant, Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin NSW, Australia, +61 421 552 746
Perched on the edge of the National Park, Echoes Restaurant & Bar boasts up to 80 kilometres of panoramic views of the Jamison Valley. Whether you’re stopping by for a casual lunch or dinner, the award-winning combination of fine dining and location serves both fresh and local Australian cuisine all with an Asian twist.
Echoes Restaurant & Bar, 3 Lilianfels Ave, Katoomba NSW, Australia, +61 2 4782 1966
The award-winning hostel of the Blue Mountains YHA sleeps up to 200 guests in the comfort of a log fire during the winter. The restored, redbrick National Trust building is 1.8 kilometres from the Three Sisters viewing platform and is perfect for any traveller or family on a budget.
Blue Mountains YHA, 207 Katoomba St, Katoomba NSW, Australia, +61 2 4782 1416
Bordering the Blue Mountains National Park, the Falls Mountain Retreat is a 13-minute walk from Wentworth Falls, offering self-contained modern suites and cottages each with a fireplace, full kitchen and spa. This luxury hideaway is located on four acres of peaceful gardens for you to truly escape your busy life.
With panoramic views of the Kanimbla Valley, the Season of Mists offers a completely private getaway for you to truly take in the tranquil region. Perfect for that romantic getaway and also those seeking a bit of luxury, the cosy bedrooms will keep you warm when the snow sweeps through the region in winter.
Season of Mists, 47 Shipley Rd, Blackheath NSW, Australia, +61 406 430 889