As our journey to see all 1000 Places To See Before You Die we made it to our next destination: The Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia. Even though we were freezing in our campervan and had our share of troubles with driving on the left side of the road, we got another fabulous report and amazing pictures for you.
The Blue Mountains are a national park about one hour west of Sydney. It is amazing, that only a short drive from the sizzling city, there is a nature which offers trekking, camping and sights you wouldn’t believe. We aren’t really the hiking type, but I guess for those seeking solitude and peace as a getaway from the city, this is the perfect place.
Strangely, the Blue Mountains aren’t really mountains like the Alps or the Rocky Mountains. They are more like a huge plateau with deep canyons. Imagine the Grand Canyon, but not as deep and with lots more trees and wildlife.
Although the book suggests that hotel and restaurant The Lilianfels is part of the Blue Mountains experience, we didn’t agree. However, before we decided not to go to The Lilianfels, we walked around the hotel. It does seem to be a very nice place.
Being backpackers (sort of) we didn’t feel like a fancy arrangement like The Lilianfels fits into our travel. First of all, we don’t have any clothes with us that could make us fit in with the crowd (not even remotely) and secondly, we didn’t feel like drinking $20 tea while wearing socks and thongs.
By the way, I never would have even considered the combination of socks and thongs, but I rather look ridiculous than freeze my toes of. And yes, I bought proper shoes yesterday since Melbourne is also quite cold, but I’ll tell you more about that some other time.
The 3 Sisters
The rock formation has a very high importance in Aboriginal mythology. The 3 rocks are supposed to be 3 sisters that have been transformed into stone by a sorcerer to protect them. As the myth goes, the sorcerer died before he could transform them back and so now they are there for the rest of time.
The best place to see The 3 Sisters is Echo Point in Katoomba, the biggest community in the Blue Mountains. Although The 3 Sisters are an interesting rock formation, the breathtaking part is the view of the valley in front of them.
We slept near Echo Point twice so we had the amazing chance to see The 3 Sisters at sunrise, at noon and at sunset. Each time we went to Echo Point, the view was different and managed to amaze us every time.
The other parts of the Blue Mountains
We spent a total of 4 days in the Blue Mountains, so we really had a good chance to see a lot. Even though most people only go to Echo Point and then move on, they should really take the time to see the area around Katoomba. We spent a whole day just walking around the different tracks to see the valley and the beautiful waterfalls from all different angles.
We also drove through the Megalong Valley – the name doesn’t really have anything to do with the fact that that it is long (it’s an Aboriginal name). The valley gave us a great chance to see the canyons from below and to see some more wildlife. We even saw our first kangaroos there.
The wildlife in the Blue Mountains National Park is really something special. We saw so many different birds with the most amazing sounds that we weren’t even able to take pictures of them all. But we did get a few great shots which we don’t want to keep from you.
The hidden gem: Mount Tomah Botanic Garden
Being on a tight budget, we always welcome places with no entrance fee. Luckily, the Mount Tomah Botanic garden is one of those places. This was even more stunning, once we walked through the garden.
The variety of different plants and trees is fascinating. There are areas for the different parts of the world which display the plants and trees of that region. Every plant has a little description so you can learn about them.
I guess that different birds like different trees, so every few meters you could see other birds sitting in other trees. Maybe sometime in the future I will get a book to finally be able to identify all those different birds.
If you are doing a trip through the Blue Mountains make sure you plan at least a few hours for a stop at Mount Tomah Botanic Garden. It is worth it!
Are the Blue Mountains really 1 of the 1000?
As I said before, I don’t think that The Lilianfels is so special that it is one of The 1000 Places To See Before You Die, but I guess there aren’t too many hotels that will make our list. There are just so many natural beauties that are just so much better than any hotel.
The Blue Mountains on the other hand really belong on the list. I guess you could spend weeks in the Blue Mountains and still find new places that amaze you. The sights of the valleys, waterfalls, cliffs and of course the wildlife should be something everyone should see at least once in his life.