Blue Mountains National Park lies to the west of Sydney in New South Wales. The park is one of eight national parks and reserves that together make up the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. This article will include information for the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
The Blue Mountains are not true mountains but are uplifted sandstone plateaus that have been carved out and divided by many rivers. This topography allows for dramatic waterfalls to spill over the cliffs into the lush valleys below filled with wildlife and pristine eucalyptus forests.
These forests are responsible for creating the blue haze which hangs above the mountains and gives them their name. This diverse region attracts people from all over the world to its opportunities for canyoning, caving, abseiling, rock climbing, mountain biking, 4WDing, to attend festivals, see Australian wildlife, or learn about aboriginal culture. The traditional owners of the Blue Mountains are the Gundungurra and Darug Tribes. Visitors can explore caves covered with red ochre handprints painted 500-1600 years ago and many other examples of centuries-old rock art in the parks.
Best Time to Visit the Blue Mountains National Park
The Blue Mountains experience a temperature climate and can be visited year-round.
The Spring season lasts from September through November. September is the least humid month of the year. November and December see high amounts of rainfall. Springs is the slowest tourism season.
The summer season in the Blue Mountains lasts from December through February. This is the hottest time of the year as well as the peak tourism season. During these months the average temperature in the upper mountains is around 18°C (64°F). The lower blue mountains have a warmer climate and the average temperature is around 29°C (84°F).
The Fall season lasts from March through May. This is the second busiest season for tourism due to its moderate humidity and temperatures. February and March see the highest amounts of rainfall.
The winter season in the Blue Mountains lasts from June through August. These are the coolest months of the year. During these months the average temperature in the upper mountains is around 5°C (41°F). This area sees about three to five days of snow per year. The lower regions have a warmer climate and the average temperature is around 16°C (61°F). Winter is the second slowest season for tourism.
It’s always a good idea to start any National Parks trip with a stop at a visitor centre. Here you can speak to park staff, purchase a daily or annual pass, or maps, books, brochures, and backcountry permits. You can also view exhibits and films on the area’s natural and cultural history. Or learn about the aboriginal heritage and get advice on walking trails and park activities.
Blue Mountains Heritage Centre- 270 Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath, NSW.
Getting To / Around the Blue Mountains National Park
The park is made up of six areas- Katoomba, Blackheath, Glenbrook, Lower Grose Valley, Mount Wilson, and Southern Blue Mountains.
Driving – from Sydney International Airport (SYD) drive 125km (77.7 mi) for 1 hour and 35 minutes via Great Western Hwy/A32 to arrive at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre.
Train – there is a rail link taking passengers directly from Sydney Airport to Central Railway Station. This quick train will have many stops in the Blue Mountains including Glenbrook, Wentworth Falls, Blackheath, Mount Victoria, Leura, and Katoomba.
Coach – many coach companies offer day trips into the Blue Mountains generally leaving from Circular Quay in Sydney.
Around the Park:
Blue Mountains Explorer Bus – a hop-on, hop-off bus that travels in a giant loop starting from Katoomba Station and visits many major attractions around the park.
Things to Do and Main Attractions
The Greater Blue Mountains Drive covers 1200km (745.7mi) of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area to surrounding regions. This journey will take you past some of the best scenery in Australia, including 18 Discovery Trails, natural wonders, wineries, and country markets.
There are walking trails in the park suitable for all abilities. The Three Sisters view from Echo Point is the most iconic viewpoint in the park. Three sandstone pillars rise 900m (2952.8ft) above the Jamison Valley and are floodlit at night. The Giant Stairway trail descends more than 800 steps to the base of these peaks. Wentworth Falls cascades 297m (974ft) down the upper and lower falls.
There are many hiking trails in the area surrounding the falls including the Overcliff-Undercliff track which leads visitors past swamp, through the rainforest, along the edge of dramatic cliffs, past large overhangs, then to Lyrebird lookout, and finally climbing up the steps to Conservation Hut. Follow Burramoko Ridge trail along a dramatic ridgeline to incredible views of Hanging Rock and the Grose Valley. Perrys Lookdown offers a view across to the sandstone cliffs of Mount Banks and below to the historic blue gum forest which was protected by bushwalkers in the 1930s. Fairfax Heritage Track is suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. This track takes you from the Heritage Centre and winds to Govetts Leap Lookout which offers views of Jungle Falls, the steep cliffs that plunge down into Grose Valley, and the dense eucalyptus forest below.
Jenolan Caves – guided tours are offered through the Jenolan Caves, the world’s oldest and Australia’s most outstanding cave system. Explore the open cave system and see crystals, underground rivers, archways, numerous chambers, and formations that are millions of years old.
Red Hands Cave – reached by the Red Hands Cave Loop walking track in the Glenbrook area of the park. The layers of red, yellow, and white handprints and stencils left between 500-1600 years ago are some of the best examples of aboriginal art within the park.
Waradah Aboriginal Centre:
This centre focuses on sharing the history and traditions of a few tribes that lived in the mountain region. At the centre, visitors can view artwork, traditional dances, and music performances. Learn about the history of this land through the people who have lived on it for tens of thousands of years through the telling of stories of the ancient ancestor’s lives, beliefs, and traditions. The centre is located in Katoomba.
Mountain Biking in the Blue Mountains National Park:
The Blue Mountains have world-class mountain biking. Try the Faulconbridge Point Lookout trail for an easier ride, this smoother trail takes you past some major sites and gives you a birds-eye view of the region. The Oaks Trail is a family-friendly option offering fresh mountain air with many stops along the way. McMahon’s Point Ride is a little more difficult but rewards the climb with incredible high altitude views of the park.
Scenic World provides the ultimate Blue Mountains adventure. The Scenic Railway is the steepest railway in the world and takes you through cliffside tunnels and into the rainforest. The glass-floored Scenic Skyway takes you soaring across the lush canopy, the Scenic Cableway takes you deep into the Jamison Valley. And the Scenic Walkway allows you to walk on an elevated boardwalk through the rainforest.
Blue Mountains Botanic Garden:
The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden sits at an altitude of 1000m (3280.8ft) and specializes in cool climate plants native to Australia and from around the world. Pack a picnic and spend an afternoon wandering through both cultivated land and wilderness which is home to over 6000 plants. Learn about rare and endangered plants and the people who travelled the globe to collect them.
Festivals in Blue Mountain National Park:
The Blue Mountains Music Festival – A folk, roots, and blues music festival featuring local and international artists across a variety of venues in Katoomba in March. When you’re not enjoying the music check out the food and craft stalls, workshops, and children’s entertainment.
The Winter Magic Festival – Celebrate the winter solstice with the locals of Katoomba and the Blue Mountains in June. Let your creativity shine and dress up in your favourite costume. You can enjoy street food, and check out local artists when you browse the artisan market. Enjoy music from local musicians and watch street theatre and comedy performances.
Christmas in July/Yulefest – Many venues offer traditional Christmas styled celebrations during the Australian winter when you may even see snowfall on the Blue Mountains. Imitate the festivities of Christmas and take part in traditional meals without the summer heat. Enjoy the cold wind, log fires, singalongs, and occasional snowfall.
Leura Garden Festival – This festival is a charity event held over two long weekends in Leura in October. Visit many different gardens in the upper Blue Mountains along with other activities including art in the gardens, music in the gardens, and plant sales. A festival bus service will be running between all the gardens to shuttle guests every thirty minutes.
Wildlife in the Blue Mountains National Park:
There are over 400 different species that make their homes in the Blue Mountains. A few that you may come across include the eastern grey kangaroo, common wallaroo, swamp wallaby, red-necked wallaby. Also keep your eyes open for sugar gliders, possums, bandicoots, wombats, cockatoos, and parrots.
There are many different tour companies operating in the Blue Mountains. They can be hired to take you canyoning, caving, abseiling, rock climbing, mountain biking, 4WDing, or to learn about aboriginal culture or wildlife.
Where to Stay in Blue Mountains National Park
All camping in the Blue Mountains requires a booking.
Frontcountry Campgrounds: For those who want to camp beside their vehicle or in their RV.
Murphys Glen Campground is located in the Glenbrook area of the park. This is a remote, spacious, wooded campground with no marked sites. Walking trails will lead you to a lookout and many small swimming pools. 2WD vehicles are able to access this campground but a 4WD is recommended after rain.
Dunphys Campground is a small remote campground less than an hour’s drive from Katoomba and Blackheath located in the Southern Blue Mountains area of the park. Sites are open, grassy, lightly wooded, and surrounded by mountain views. From the campground, you can fish along the Cox’s River, hike to Kanangra Walls, climb Narrow Neck’s cliffs, and visit the area’s original settlers’ cottage.
Burralow Creek Campground is located in the Lower Grose Valley area of the park. Set up camp on the open, grassy, unmarked sites that are spotted with native scribbly gums. Hike to waterfalls, spot the nationally endangered giant dragonfly in the peat swamps, and enjoy an unobstructed view of the night sky.
Government Town Campground is located in Yerranderie Regional Park in the Southern Blue Mountains area of the park. Explore the history of an abandoned silver mine ghost town.
Walk-in Campgrounds: For those who don’t mind a short walk to the tent.
Euroka Campground is located in the Glenbrook area of the park near the beautiful Nepean River and consists of five camping areas. Sites are open, grassy, and surrounded by eucalyptus trees. Activities include walking to the Tunnel View lookout or the Red Hands Cave track. You can also mountain biking along Oaks Firetrail, and spotting wildlife such as cockatoos and parrots.
Perrys Lookdown Campground is a rustic wilderness campground located in the Blackheath area of the park. The area is ideal for birding and walking. Hike down into the pristine valley of the Blue Gum Forest from Perrys Lookdown.
Mount Werong Campground is located in the Southern Blue Mountain area of the park. The sites are rugged, unmarked, and surrounded by lush forests and wildlife. There are many walking and mountain biking trails. Spot Aboriginal rock art sites and grinding grooves from the Gundungurra and Wiradjuri people. View waterfalls and learn about the history of Ruby Creek Mine and early pioneering life while you explore the Ruby Creek walking track.
Backcountry Campgrounds: For those looking for a remote backpacking experience.
Ingar Campground is located in the Katoomba area of the park. This area is accessed by walking or biking the 9.5km (5.9mi) Ingar Trail or as a stop along the Wentworth Falls to Woodford Trail. Swim above the dam in Ingar Creek, and look for wildlife such as eastern water dragons, sugar gliders, possums, and bandicoots.
Acacia Flat Campground is located in Grose Valley in the Blackheath area of the park. This is one of the most secluded wilderness areas in the Blue Mountains National Park. The campground is accessed by walking tracks either from Perrys lookdown or Pierces Pass.
Kedumba River Crossing Campground is located in Jamison Valley in the Katoomba area of the park. The campground is in an open, grassy area near the Kedumba River. The remote campground can be reached by a 9km (5.6mi) walk down Kedumba Pass along the Kedumba Valley Fire Trail. Or there is a 15.5km (9.6mi) walk along the multi-day Mount Solitary walking track. Enjoy the views of the mountains and milky way, visit the heritage-listed homestead, and keep an eye out for platypus, wallabies, and wombats.
Things to Remember While Visiting the Blue Mountains
– Always follow ‘Leave No Trace’ principles.
-WiFi is available at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre.
-There is limited cellphone reception in the Blue Mountains.
-All Park visitors planning a long hike, off-track or overnight adventure, or visiting a remote part of the park, are asked to fill in a trip intention form and to carry a Personal Locator Beacon – available at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre.
-Food, gas, and supplies can be found in the gateway communities of Katoomba, Glenbrook, and Mount Victoria as well as many other nearby communities.
-Pets are not permitted in the park for their safety and the safety of park wildlife.
-Respect wildlife from a distance: don’t feed or approach them or let them approach you.
-Human food has a serious impact on wildlife. Don’t feed wildlife, keep camps free of all traces of food, store food, and dispose of all garbage properly.
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