Blue Mountains National Park - Katoomba, NSW

Blue Mountains National Park

100km West of Sydney, the Blue Mountains National Park has the most spectacular scenery of any of Australia's parks. Enjoy the raw beauty of the sandstone cliffs and deep gorges originally deposited by river systems that drained into a coastal plain more than 275 million years ago. 50 million years ago the area was uplifted to become the Great Dividing Range. The range formed a natural barrier to the early settlers in Sydney until Messrs Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson stumbled across in 1813.

In 1836 Charles Darwin, like many a visitor before and since, found the views "stupendous". The rosy cliffs, shading down through subtle blues to deepest cobalt, have been a challenging subject for generations of landscape painters. Others come to stand at Echo Point and Govetts Leap to be awed, as Darwin was, by the spectacular views. The vales of intense blue that mist the valleys are thought to be caused by a vaporization of oil droplets rising from the dense eucalyptus forests of the valley floors.

Early last century the river meandering through this valley was proposed as the first rail link between Sydney and west New South Wales. The railway was partially built up to the end of the Grosse Valley in what can only be described as a futile engineering miracle. It was abandoned in 1834 amid considerable scandal.

There are many places of spectacular scenery including the Three Sisters at Katoomba and Govetts Leap and views to the North over the Grosse Valley. Accessible from the Northern side of the park is Mount Banks a former picnic site in the early 1900s. Visitors to this mountain today report experiencing a 'ghost-like' feeling among the deserted and overgrown picnic areas.

Early efforts to get trains across the mountain barriers resulted in the ingenious and famous Lithgow zigzag railway of 1869. The trains descended 70m via three sandstone viaducts and two reversing stations. The back and forth descent to the Lithgow Valley operated until 1910. Today this historic piece of railway engineering is run and operated by railway enthusiasts as a tourist attraction.

On the Southern side of the park mountain bike riders can travel along the 6 foot track through the Megalong Valley to Jenolan Caves. To the South West the park extends all the way to Wombeyan Caves. Mountain bike riders can also travel on fire trails from Wentworth Falls to Woodford (Oakford Fire Trail) and from Woodford to Glenbrook (Anderson Fire Trail).

Location

Katoomba, NSW, 2780