The Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia are beautiful. When I first began planning this weekend away from Sydney, I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know how accessible the trails would be to a clueless-trekker like myself going by herself. But it ended up being a very easy weekend, and I got all the nature I could have asked for without going too far our of my comfort zone.
1. it’s a bushwalk, not a hike
Earn yourself some local credit by calling your ventures around the Blue Mountains “bushwalks” and not hikes. Australians commonly refers to adventures along pre-set paths “bushwalks.” A hike envolves cooking and sleeping outside.
The Three Sisters and Mount Solitary near Katoomba
2. don’t discount going in winter
For several reasons, I decided to go to Australia during their winter months. I was worried that this would limit my out-door time, but it didn’t in the slightest. I’d actually suggest going in the winter due to the mild climate and the thinner crowds
3. stay in katoomba
The tourist hub of the Blue Mountains is arguable Katoomba, which was an easy ride on the Blue Mountain line and walking distance to–arguably–the most iconic view of the Blue Mountains: the Three Sisters.. The train leaves the Central terminal and you use the Opal transit card to pay for the fare. The journey takes about 2-2:30 hours.
I stayed at the Blue Mountain Backpacker Hostel. It was nothing special, but it is an easy distance from the train station, which was very nice. It also had a large common space and a large kitchen, which would be great for longer stint.
The Blue Mountain YHA is farther into Katoomba, but I imagine it’s a bit nicer and closer to the trails.
Other towns along the train line and in the area are adorable and well prepared to host tourist, but as someone depending on public transportation, Katoomba was easy.
The honeymoon bridge near Katoomba that leads one to the closest of the three sisters!
4. day-trip or weekend-trip? weekend.
Several tourist I spoke to have gone to the Blue Mountains as a day trip. It’s a long day trip, but pretty easy to accomplish from Sydney.
I went for the weekend, which I would suggest before you were able to finish asking the question. A weekend afforded me time to go on two, nice long bushwalks and I wasn’t completely exhausted by the experience.
5. trail suggestion #1: highlights from katoomba
Starting at my hostel in Katoomba, I walked down to Scenic World–there is a bus/ trolley–and then proceeded to the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, towards Echo Point. From Echo Point, I walked to the Three Sisters and Honeymoon Bridge.
View from the National Pass
6. trail suggestion #2: the national pass
Bush walking the National Pass was one of the coolest things I did in New South Wales
I took the train to Wentworth Falls–two stops away from Katoomba–and then did the Darwin’s walk to the National Pass to the Upper Cliff walk.
7. research adventures before you go
My biggest regret was not researching all there was to do in the Blue Mountain before I went. Given, if I had researched, my weekend trip probably would have turned into month-long stint. Here is a list of information I gathered from Katoomba that I wish I had seen before going:
- For walking guides and maps, see WildWalks.com.
- Blue Mountain Adventure Company offers canyoning, abseiling (repelling), climbing, etc. Full day trip is $250, but they also offer half day-trips.
- Walk-About with an aboriginal local
- Centennial Glen Stables for sunset horseback riding
- Jenolan Cave is about 90 minutes drive from Katoomba, but was highly recommended.
- Rope course at Tree Adventures
- Scenic World gives you a perspective of the Blue Mountains from a cable car.
- For highlights and minimum walking, get the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus ticket.
8. the yellow deli in katooma
A friend–from Colorado who I first met in Medellin, Colombia and met up wth while we were both in Sydney–recommended the Yellow Deli to me. I wrote it down, kind of shrugged it off as a suggestion I may and may not take.
…and I am so glad I explored her suggestion! Just sitting in the Yellow Deli warmed my heart. I don’t know how to really describe it. The food was the delicious and the smell was heavenly–in a non-exaggerated way. Please, please, please give yourself the gift of going to the Yellow Deli if you ever find yourself in Katoomba.
Just look how many people and tents there were at the 2017 winter festival in Katoomba!
9. the winter magic festival
My travel arrangements, through no planning of my own, took me to Katoomba during their Winter Magic Festival! It was lots of fun and lots of good eats. The sheer size of the festival, the customs and the energy of people there was addicting. I got a really good sense what kind of community I was in and it set my weekend off to a fantastic start!