Like most people who visit the Blue Mountains I rarely made it past the Three Sisters lookout in Katoomba. In fact, despite visiting the area at least 5 or 6 times, I had never actually gone further than this lookout point. That is until I discovered the incredible hikes led by Tread Lightly Eco Tours, which take you completely off the tourist trail and allow you to go hiking in the Blue Mountains in areas that tourists are far less likely to explore.
What are the Blue Mountains? Are they really blue?
The Blue Mountains are a World Heritage listed area that is only an hour or so outside of Sydney. It is over 10,000 square kilometres and has been home to Aboriginal groups for over 12,000 years.
This area is home to 13% of the world’s species of eucalyptus trees, which produce fine droplets of oil. This oil combines with water vapour, dust and rays of light that are mainly blue in colour… and voila, the Blue Mountains!
Where can you hike?
There are scores of hikes throughout the Blue Mountains area ranging in difficulty from easy to hard. This can make it very difficult to decide which one to choose, especially for a visitor!
Personally, I think your best option is to join a guided hike. Even though I am a Sydney-sider, I still learned so much on my hike with Tim and Tread Lightly Eco Tours that I would never have learned online or from reading a brochure. To get an idea of what hiking in the Blue Mountains is like, make sure you watch this video by my friend and fellow hiker, Mari, who made a video about our trip.
Another option is to hike on your own, however, it is best that you contact the tourism board for more information before you set out. Each year visitors to the Blue Mountains get lost, fall and sometimes even die while trying to explore this area without being properly prepared. Remember to take lots of water, preferably hike with a friend, and ALWAYS tell someone where you will be hiking.
What can you see?
As you can see from the video above, the natural landscape is spectacular. There are over 150 plant species that can’t be found anywhere else including one of the rarest species in the world. The Wollemi pine is a living fossil that dates back to the age of the dinosaurs! On our trip, we learnt about the unique characteristics of Australian flora and fauna that have allowed it to thrive. For example, did you know that many Australian plants actually need fire to spread their seeds?
It is surprisingly difficult to spot animals here, probably because they tend to avoid areas with people. But, there are over 400 different kinds of animal living within the Blue Mountains including the spotted-tailed quoll, koala, long-nosed potoroo and the green and golden bell frog. Sadly we didn’t see any of these but we were lucky enough to spot a raptor. While I was busy looking for dinosaurs, everyone else on our tour realised that raptors are birds and they were enjoying watching her soaring through the air to her nest.
On top of this, there are waterfalls, gullies, cliffs and swamps. Not to mention spectacular views!
I want to visit!
The most popular areas to visit in the Blue Mountains are Katoomba and Leura – both of which are accessible either by car or train. If you decide to drive from Sydney, try to take the scenic route along Bell’s Line of Road which stretches through the Blue Mountains National Park.
To get the most out of your stay, you might want to stay for a few nights in one of the many eco-lodges and hostels in the area.
Thanks to Tim for Tread Lightly Eco-Tours for hosting me on this hike. The opinions expressed in this article are my own and have not been influenced in any way.
Have you been to the Blue Mountains? Did you see more than the Three Sisters?
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