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Escape to the Blue Mountains

Three Sisters, Blue MountainsCREDIT: Filippo Rivetti

The Three Sisters, one of the many natural wonders in the Blue Mountains.

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Escape to the
Blue Mountains

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains CREDIT: Filippo Rivetti

The Three Sisters, one of the many natural wonders in the Blue Mountains.

#lovensw #newsouthwales

Hashtags #lovensw #newsouthwales

Just 90 minutes by car from Sydney and accessible by train, the vast UNESCO World Heritage-listed Greater Blue Mountains Area is renowned for its magnificent sandstone escarpments and the deep valleys that weave their way from one historic village to the next. This extraordinary setting is the ideal backdrop for relaxing short breaks, adventure and inspired food and wine experiences. Here’s how to make the most of your stay.

Highlights: 

  • Reconnect with nature by walking in the wilderness  
  • Taste the goodness of locally grown produce and regional wines  
  • Embrace the romance of historic accommodation  

Where to seek out adventure 

There are countless bushwalking tracks dotted throughout the Blue Mountains, ranging from easy strolls leading to lookouts to longer walks such as the Grand Canyon Track, a 6.3km loop that starts at Evans Lookout in Blackheath and passes Beauchamp Falls and Greaves reek. The Six Foot Track is a more challenging three-day walk along the old coach road between Katoomba and Jenolan Caves. Life’s An Adventure runs guided tours and will transport your backpack so you can focus wholeheartedly on your surrounds. 

Tread Lightly Eco Tours offers guided bushwalks and 4WD tours that focus on the region’s environmental and cultural aspects. You’ll visit some of the oldest rainforests, tallest waterfalls and deepest canyons in the area, learning about local history and Aboriginal culture. 

In Katoomba, Scenic World’s extensive upgrade to its Scenic Skyway has resulted in greater comfort for thrill seekers as they travel 270m above ancient sandstone ravines in the glass-bottomed cable car. The thrills continue on the Scenic Railway, the world’s steepest passenger railway, which descends at an incline of 52 degrees to the Jamison Valley floor. 

Where to experience nature’s gifts 

Jenolan Caves, a highlight of the region, features a labyrinth of stalactite-lined limestone chasms carved by underground rivers. Nine of the 300 caves are open for public viewing, with each at a constant temperature of 15°C, even when it’s snowing outside. Lucas Cave houses both the spectacular limestone formation known as Broken Column and the Cathedral, a 54m-high chamber that is sometimes used for musical concerts. 

During spring, magnificent private gardens in the villages of Leura and Blackheath bloom with bluebells, azaleas, magnolias, camelias and cherry blossom, ready for the annual Leura Gardens Festival in October and the Blackheath Rhododendron Festival in November.  

Any time of the year is ideal for wandering around the five hectares of beautiful European-style gardens at Everglades House & Gardens, located in Leura and designed by famed Danish-born landscape gardener Paul Sorensen. For a more in-depth cool-climate garden experience, take the drive along Bells Line of Road to The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah, where majestic gardens are framed by panoramic views. 

Scenic World, Katoomba CREDIT: Destination NSW

The Scenic Skyway cabin passes over the Jamison Valley, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

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Scenic World, Katoomba CREDIT: Destination NSW

The Scenic Skyway cabin passes over the Jamison Valley, Katoomba in the Blue Mountains.

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Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains CREDIT: Destination NSW

Small group enjoying a tour through a cave system at Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains.

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Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains CREDIT: Destination NSW

Small group enjoying a tour through a cave system at Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains.

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Where to eat and drink 

For authentic Asian street food, visit Miss Lilian Tea House at Lilianfels Resort & Spa in Katoomba. Colourful birdcages suspended from the ceiling and equally vibrantly coloured bowls of Asian comfort food highlighting local produce make dining here a feast for the senses.  

Also in Katoomba, Blue Mountains Food Co-op sells fresh produce from commercial and backyard growers, while Carrington Cellars & Deli, set directly behind the heritage-listed Carrington Hotel, is replete with locally and regionally produced wines, beers and deli goods. Head inside the Carrington to Champagne Charlie’s Cocktail Bar, where you can sample the distinct beers made by Katoomba Brewing Company. Alternatively, venture to Echo Point and enjoy a fine glass of wine as you take in the iconic Three Sisters from BAR NSW, one of three venues at the lookout. 

Dog-friendly and a stone’s throw from Leura’s bustling main street, Sorensen’s Glasshouse & Gardens is on the site where Paul Sorensen once tended to his plants. The actual glasshouse is an architectural delight and serves select teas, coffees, cakes, light snacks and ready-made picnic baskets, encouraging visitors to find a spot to relax amid the lovely heritage-listed gardens. 

Diagonally opposite Leura’s train station you’ll find Leura Garage, an award-winning bar and restaurant housed within a former auto-mechanic workshop. The seasonal menu is as creative as the industrial car art, with local ingredients starring. On Leura Mall, the village’s main street, Little Niche Nosh is a haven for vegetarians and vegans — protein-based burgers, soups, pies and pasties feature on the eat-in and takeaway menus. For exceptional sweet treats, try Café Madeline, then head next door to Josophan’s Fine Chocolates, where you can fill up a box with your choice of exquisite handmade chocolates. 

At the iconic Hydro Majestic Hotel in Medlow Bath, enjoy the grand tradition of afternoon high tea at The Wintergarden, refined Asian cuisine at Salon du Thé or casual, all-day dining at Boiler House Restaurant. All offer a side of spectacular valley views. 

Where to sleep 

Along with its boundless beauty, great venues and the opportunity to unearth treasure at village boutiques, the Blue Mountains is filled with all manner of places to rest your head.

Old Leura Dairy is ideal for eco-conscious guests. Options include a converted old milking shed, barn and worker’s cottage, along with a five-bedroom straw-bale house, two-bedroom cottage and one-room studio. Also in Leura, The Fairmont Resort & Spa delivers classic resort-style accommodation for families, with impressive facilities and activities such as a maze, golf, heated pool, cinema and pony rides. 

Mountain Whispers offers five luxury hideaways in Katoomba and Leura — all are self-contained with stylish interiors and evocative names such as The Gatsby and Chatelaine. In the heart of Katoomba, the magnificent Carrington Hotel is a treat for art deco buffs. First opened in 1883, the hotel transports guests to an era of elegance.  

Timeless charm can also be found at Echoes Boutique Hotel and its sister property, Lilianfels — this historic mansion is surrounded by lush manicured gardens and has the multi-award-winning Darleys Restaurant on-site. The Hydro Majestic in Medlow Bath, a third sister, cleverly combines romance and nostalgia with modern-day opulence. 

For an escape that combines all-inclusive luxury with a remote location, spoil yourself with a stay at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, a 70-minute drive from Katoomba. This exceptional conservation resort has established its reputation as one of Australia’s finest retreats and offers 40 heritage-style villas with private plunge pools and magical escarpment views, plus a stunning wellness sanctuary with six double treatment rooms. 

Jenolan Caves, also a 70-minute drive from Katoomba, is a memorable place to stay as well. Choose from romantic guestrooms within historic Caves House, the self-contained Jenolan Cottages or the motel-style Mountain Lodge. 

Leura Garage, Blue Mountains CREDIT: Destination NSW

Bartender making a cocktail at Leura Garage, Leura.

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Leura Garage, Blue Mountains CREDIT: Destination NSW

Bartender making a cocktail at Leura Garage, Leura.

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Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley CREDIT: James Horan; Destination NSW

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains

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Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley CREDIT: James Horan; Destination NSW

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains

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