Couple watching the sunset from the Three Sisters, Katoomba

A rugged mountainous region of New South Wales comprising of canyons, sandstone formations, plateaus, rocky hills, peaks, and mountain ranges, the Blue Mountains is located 50 kilometres northwest of Sydney. It has a total area of 11,400 square kilometres and is famous for its natural scenery. Covered with ancient eucalyptus forests and dotted with waterfalls and waterways, the World Heritage-listed national park is also home to a rich biodiversity and wildlife. 

 

Over 3 million tourists visit the region every year to see the iconic Three Sisters, a unique rock formation in Jamison Valley near the tourist town of Katoomba.

 

The greater Blue Mountains area is part of the Great Dividing Range sitting on the sandstone bedrock of the Sydney Basin. Surrounded by major waterways, the eastern boundaries are the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers, on the west are the Coxs River and Lake Burragorang, and to the north are the Wolgan and Colo rivers.     

 

Several towns are within the Blue Mountains region. They are Katoomba, Blackheath, Mount Victoria, and Springwood with the local government areas including the cities of Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Lithgow, and Oberon Shire.

 

In 1788, Artur Phillip called the north Carmarthen Hills and the south Lansdowne Hills. Today, the region gets its name the Blue Mountains because of its azure hue. One explanation for this phenomenon is the Raleigh Scattering. Lights with shorter wavelengths refracted by the tiny particles in the atmosphere. They allow the eyes to see the bluish-grey colour from a distance. The second explanation pertains to the eucalyptus forests. The huge amount of oil the eucalyptus forests emitted under the scorching Australian sun created the blue haze. Either explanation is valid. There is only one thing that is certain: under the azure sky, the mountains are blue.     

 

The Blue Mountains consists of two major mountain ranges and five smaller ones. The Bell Range and the Explorer Range formed the major mountain ranges. The Bell Range extends to the north of the Grose River near the Bells Line of Road; to the south of the Grose River is Explorer Range stretching towards Mount Victoria in the west. The smaller ones are the ranges of Caley, Erskine, Mount Hay, Paterson, and Woodford.

 

The peaks within the Blue Mountains vary in height with an average of around 1000 metres of which the highest is an unnamed peak standing at 1,189 metres high and the lowest is Mount Irvine at 850 metres. Peaks above 1000 metres in height are mounts Piddington (1,094 m), Boyce (1,093 m), York (1,061), Banks (1,049 m), and Wilson (1,008 m). The Kings Tableland and Narrow Neck Plateau both stand at 1,000 meters. Below the 1000 metres are the mountains of Solitary (950 m), Hay (944 m), and Irvine.

 

UNESCO listed the Greater Blue Mountains Area as a World Heritage Site citing the region’s geological formation and its eucalyptus forests, biodiversity, and endemism.    

 

Today, the Blue Mountains is a major tourist attraction near Sydney. Adventurers climb the rocks and mountains; hikers explore the wilds. Guided tours are also available. The most popular scenic spot is Echo Point where you can have wonderful views of the Three Sisters, Katoomba Falls, Mount Solitary, Narrow Neck Plateau, and Jamison Valley.