The Scenic Skyway can be very busy during the summer months – be sure to book ahead to avoid a long queue.
Located an easy 50km train ride west of Sydney, the Blue Mountains are a convenient and spectacular reminder of the vast, wild country that exists outside Australia’s cities. In winter they are refreshingly cool, in summer they are pleasantly warm and sunny, and in the spring and autumn the mountainsides glow with all varieties of colour. The blue tinge for which the mountains are named comes from the high concentration of Eucalyptus trees that can be found here. Their leaves produce finely dispersed droplets of oil which scatter predominantly blue-tinged rays of light. From a distance, the effect can be mesmerising.
Monsters and Mountains
The ancient folklore of the aboriginal Gundungurra people tells the story of the creation of these mountains. Two mighty half-fish, half-reptile creatures named Mirigan and Garangatch stumbled upon one another one day, and each was so enraged by the sight of the other that they fought a lengthy and vicious battle, causing extensive collateral damage in the form of deep gorges and scarred mountains.
Into the Wild
Most visitors to the mountains head for Scenic World in Katoomba. From the visitor centre at Echo Point, you can follow a bushwalking trail to the famous Three Sisters rock formation. Here you will also find the beginning of the Giant’s Stairway, a set of over 800 steel steps which will take you down to the valley floor. From there, you can walk the 90-minute Federal Pass Trail all the way to the base of the beautiful Katoomba Falls, after which, if you don’t feel like walking all the way back up to the top, you can take the Scenic Railway, which is the steepest funicular railway in the world. Another popular way to see the falls is the Scenic Skyway, a cablecar which travels directly above them, a knee-weakening 270m above the valley floor.
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