When we were hanging out in Sydney for a few days earlier this year, we figured we should go see some of the surroundings as well. We only had 5 days in Australia since we’d kind of added it to our itinerary last minute before heading to New Zealand, and even though we loved Sydney, we decided to look into day trip options. The choice for the Blue Mountains wasn’t hard as we were promised green valleys, waterfalls and cable car rides. Who doesn’t love those?! And, cable cars mean views and we’re suckers for a good view.
The Blue Mountains are a mountain range not far from Sydney, and its name comes from the eucalyptus trees that release oil into the air that when light filters through, look blueish. A day trip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains is very doable and will add a little adventure to your itinerary!
How to get to the Blue Mountains
There are several options depending on your preference. Your starting point would be Katoomba, the main town in the Blue Mountains and very conveniently located as a starting point.
- Rent a car. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Sydney’s centre
- Join a tour. There are several full day trips that will pick you up and make sure you see everything in 1 day, such as this popular tour.
- Purchase a day ticket for the hop on/hop off bus and get to Katoomba yourself by train. We did this, and purchased our tickets including tickets to Scenic World.
We took a train from Sydney’s Central Station to Katoomba, which took about 2 hours and (we couldn’t believe it) cost only AUD2.60 each way because we had an Opal Card and traveled on Sunday.
After picking up the tickets at the booking office next to the train station, we were just in time to hop on the 9:30 bus. First stop: Katoomba Falls. Because we’re not great with signs (any), we completely missed the fact we would be embarking on a pretty strenuous hike. Or we took a wrong turn somewhere, it was all very exciting. After a bit of a descend and realising our destination was up top, we braced our non-fit selves.
We pretended to not be fazed. We’d done some hiking in Laos, but that was months ago and we were a bit out of practice. But as we climbed the steps we were rewarded with views, jungle and caves. Even though we were not super early, it wasn’t busy on the trail. It was easy to take a few breaks during the climb and step out onto rock plateaus to enjoy the views.
To our surprise, the climb ended behind Scenic World. We were quite happy not to have to go back the same way!
Scenic World consist of 2 cable car rides, a railway and a scenic walkway. The railway is the steepest passenger rail in the world! It’s a 310 meter descend in a glass train, in which you can angle your seat for a steeper (or less steep if you’re so inclined). It’s a pretty cool ride and lands you at the bottom Jamison Valley.
The cable cars have stunning views over the valley. With the glass bottom you get a 360 view of the valley, the Three Sisters and Katoomba Falls. It’s a fun for all and it’s easy to spend an hour here between the cable cars, walks and railway. There’s a little shop for a snack and a toilet break as well.
For lunch, we headed back to the village of Leura, on one of the Scenic World worker’s advice. He directed us to a cafe called Lily’s Pad and boy were we happy! A small place with covered outdoor seating, this place was excellent. They serve breakfast and lunch until 5pm and the food is fantastic. Homemade bread and fresh produce., quite easily the best lunch we’d had in a while.
After lunch we headed back to Echo Point (yup, a back and forth) to see the Three Sisters. The Three Sisters are a rock formation, especially pretty in sunset, that rise to 922 meters high and are quite the sight against the backdrop of the mountains.
Aboriginal legend says the three sisters were in love with three brothers from a rivalling tribe and were not allowed to marry. As a battle broke out, a witch doctor, to protect them, turned them into stone. By the time the battle had ended, the doctor had died and as he was the only one able to reverse the spell, the sisters remain where they are.
We hopped back on the bus to our final destination; Leura Cascades. An easy walk on a scenic boardwalk got us there in 20 minutes, but if you’ve got time, there’s a walking track that loops you around in 30 minutes. The walk through the jungle is very pretty (and easy) and once at the photogenic waterfall it’s the perfect area for a break. Look how happy this guy is!
Good to know
- The mountains can get foggy and chilly, check the temperatures before you go
- The Blue Mountain’s don’t have to be a day trip, there are plenty of accommodations to do an overnight trip
- An Opal Card gets you a hefty discount on a train journey there, definitely worth the consideration as the train journey is a straight forward one. They’re for sale in all the tourist offices
- The HoHo bus stops at 5pm. Plan your day accordingly.
All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our day. There are so many day trips to choose from, but we didn’t regret our choice and it was well worth the money and time! It’s a great escape from city life for a day and get a taste of Australia’s ruggedness.
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