A Getaway Guide to the Blue Mountains
Discover the Best of the Blue Mountains
Posted by Stephanie Mikkelsen on Thursday, June 29, 2017
In the words of the Mother Abbess from The Sound of Music, it’s time to climb every mountain. Okay, so maybe not every mountain, but it’s definitely time to see some and in this case we’re talking the Blue Mountains in New South Wales.
The Blue Mountains are a magical place. There is something in the air and in the ancient landscape; in the tiny villages that are dotted between scenic walks and escarpments, lookout points and verdant gardens. The Blue Mountains’ delights are not all of the nature-or-wildlife persuasion though. For foodies, there are acclaimed eateries plus provedores well-stocked with plenty of goodies to fill your car boot with. There are galleries and museums, serene day spas, antique shops, and an abundance of to-dos to help keep you occupied.
Taking the above onboard, it (almost) goes without saying that the Blue Mountains delivers on all fancies, including whatever style of getaway tugs at your heartstrings. Lovers can hide themselves away in a secluded cottage, or adventure-seekers can put themselves in the heart of the action with a house close to attractions and sights. Families are catered for, too. Think areas for kids to run around on and eateries with menus to please the pickiest of palates.
While a day out in the Blue Mountains makes a stunningly scenic excursion, staying overnight – or longer – is the best way to see everything the ranges have to offer. Look through our collection of Blue Mountains getaways to find the perfect base for your exploration of this beautiful region. To give you a taste of what to expect on your next getaway, we’re spilling on what to see, eat and do in the Blue Mountains.
How To Get There
First things first, how do you get to the Blue Mountains? For visitors with their own set of wheels, reaching the Blue Mountains can be done with a 90-minute to two-hour drive out of Sydney. Follow the Western Motorway until thickets of trees replace suburban streets. For an already-plotted itinerary, use the Greater Blue Mountains Drive as your chosen route once you arrive. While having a car makes it easier to move between towns and sights, visitors can also reach the mountains by train. Regular daily services depart from Central Station and include stops in Leura, Katoomba and Blackheath.
When To Go
Any time of year! Seriously, the Blue Mountains is a perennial beauty. Flowers bloom during summer, and temperatures hover around the 22-degree mark. You’ll also see the bluish haze that hovers in the air, providing the ‘Blue’ part of the name. Unsurprisingly, summer is when the mountainous region tend to see an influx of visitors. Winters are cold and crisp, however braving the chill comes with its rewards. Yulefest runs throughout winter and transforms the Blue Mountains with Christmas-style celebrations. The Winter Magic Festival is another event on the June calendar. Autumnal visitors can expect to see gardens alive with colour and leaf-strewn streets and trees ablaze with red and orange hues. The Blue Mountains Folk Festival happens in March, too. Venture to the mountains in the springtime for wildflowers, milder temperatures and the Leura Gardens Festival.
See and Do
Image: Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains National Park. Credit: Destination NSW
It would be an impossible task to list all of the see-and-do possibilities in the Blue Mountains. So think of this as an amuse-bouche of what to expect. To start, tick off the big names: Cruise along the Wentworth Falls Track, past lookout points and finally to the path’s namesake; a three-tiered waterfall that tumbles 100 metres to the valley floor. Have your camera at the ready for the Three Sisters, an rock formation attraction that draws millions of gawking visitors every year. These siblings sit on the north escarpment of Jamison Valley, and look as though they change colour with the moving sun. The legend behind the sisters – Meehni, Wimblah and Gunnedoo – tells of a forbidden romance and an elder turning the once-human sisters into stone. To rest climb-weary legs, clamber into a carriage or cable car at Scenic World and be treated to sweeping views through rainforest, tree canopies and deep valleys.
While Leura and Katoomba tend to draw the most visitors, don’t overlook Blackheath. This smaller village located on the western side of the Blue Mountains National Park is making its way up the popularity ladder, and it’s here where you’ll find less crowded bush walks and views. Scamper up the cliff-top walking track to Evans Lookout, or gaze across the Grose Valley from Govetts Leap lookout. Green thumbs can wander the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens, or gourmands can stroll between stalls at the Blackheath Growers Market, held the second Sunday of each month between February and December.
Once you’ve ‘ooh’ed and ‘ahh’ed over Mother Nature’s glory, indulge in more materialistic and cultural pleasures. Have nimble-knuckled therapists knead and massage muscles at Spa Sublime in Katoomba, or gallery-goers can visit a local art space such as Lost Bear Gallery, John Wilson Art Gallery, Blue Mountains City Art Gallery at the Cultural Centre or the Norman Lindsay Gallery & Museum. Pick up a treasure at an antique bazaar, or catch a film at Mount Vic Flicks, an old-school movie theatre with ticket prices that won’t harm the hip-pocket and a snack bar stocked with homemade choc tops, house-baked treats and hot soup.
Eat and Drink
Image: Leura Main Street. Credit: James Horan; Destination NSW
Phew. All that walking, antiquing and scenery-admiring is sure to work up an appetite. Refuel your engine at Leura Garage, an award-winning eatery dishing up local, organic and super-fresh fare. Make a pit stop for a pick from the seasonal menus, or rally with a group for a banquet offering. Anonymous in Blackheath serves up delicious breakfast plates, as well as lunch and a stellar selection of teas. A sister-café, Synonymous, has recently opened in Medlow Bath and follows the same local produce and specialty coffee ethos as its elder sibling. 2773 in Glenbrook is home to house-roasted coffee, all-day dining, a veggie patch and even some full-time residents; two miniature pigs and a gaggle of chooks, to be exact.
Fans of white tablecloth-dining should make a reservation at Darley, the hatted restaurant helmed by executive chef Lee Kwiez. The seasonal menu is served in the main dining room, a heritage beauty with ornate fireplaces, leadlight windows, crystal chandeliers and garden views. Eucalypt is another fine-dining destination dishing up Modern Australian cuisine in an intimate setting alongside an extensive wine list. Restaurant Como sits at the foothills of Blaxland and offers a la carte or degustation dining.
Hole up in The Bunker in Springwood during the day for cosy café meals and stick around as the sun goes down to enjoy live music, excellent cocktails and a good wine selection. Daytime sips can be had at Bar NSW at the Lookout, a relaxed space with a sun-blessed terrace, a rustic interior and an exquisite outlook.
One Last Thing...
It might be tempting to head straight to top of the mountains, however make sure not to neglect the lower villages and give these areas some love, too.
While a day out in the Blue Mountains makes a stunningly scenic excursion, staying overnight – or longer – is the best way to see everything the ranges have to offer. Look through our collection of Blue Mountains getaways to find the perfect base for your exploration of this beautiful region.