Favorite thing: One of the can't miss locations throughout the Blue Mountains National Park is definitely the Wentworth Falls location. With several hiking trails to explore, this is an adventure lovers dream, but even those who can not go hiking up the rock formations, don't fret... there are even beautiful views from the picnic locations!
One of the best things about the Blue Mountains National Park is the ability to look at some wonderful rock formations, where the pressing and molding of sedimentary rock has been going on for millions of years, all for you to enjoy....
Best of all... its free! (Except the bus ride out here!).
This photo was taken near Wentworth Falls.
This unbelievable view is of Mount Solitary, which is compiled of different layes of sediment buried and pressed hundreds of millions of years ago. Now it is out there for your viewing pleasure.
This site is located in the same viewing platform as the Three Sisters.
Along with Leura Cascades and Katoomba Falls, this is one of the three most famous waterfalls in the Blue Mountains.
It is easily accessed at the top with a carpark not too far away or you can, as I do, approach it on one of the trails where its overall beauty is impacted upon you far more thoroughly.
At 250 metres in height it's a fair climb up the side when you get there though the falls at Govetts Leap exceed these by another 50 metres.
Isopogon is a genus of around 35 species, all occurring only in Australia. They are found in the southern half of the continent in temperate regions. Most are small to medium sized shrubs having flower clusters arranged in globular heads. The fruits are also globular in shape giving rise to the common name of "drumsticks". Some are also called "coneflowers" although this name is more usual in the related genus Petrophile.
This particular specimen was on the National Pass Track about halfway to Wentworth Falls.
For those with interests in such things, I include the following:
I.anemonifolius is a small to medium shrub from about 0.5 to 2 metres in height and a similar width. The leaves may be up to 100mm long and are divided into many linear segments. The yellow flowers occur in late spring and early summer, conspicuously displayed on the ends of the branches. The flower clusters are around 35 mm in diameter and are followed by the spherical (barrel-shaped) seed pods which remain on the plant for an indefinite period.
This is an attractive species which is well known in cultivation. It was one of the first Australian plants to be cultivated in Europe in the late 1700s.
To feel the dominance and be in awe of the Blue Mountains you have to stand beneath one of those towering cliff faces.
Fondest memory: In this picture, if you look closely towards the bottom, you will see my youngest son on a trail. This gives you an idea of how insignificant you will be in the scheme of things when you actually get on the trails.
This happens to be the National Pass Track.
The overhanging sandstone with veil like waterfalls here and there splashing at the base and continuing the unending erosion that formed what you see today makes for a memorable passage.
The vastness of the park (247,000 hectares) means you won't get to see it all in your lifetime. In fact, there are places where I will confidently state that no man has walked, such as where the Wollemi Pine, a previously unknown tree, was recently discovered, a biological oddity that has now been saved from extinction by propagation.
This really is the activity to do in the Blue Mountains.
Fondest memory: This walk is part of the one at the back of Leura Railway Station. In its day it was a popular walk but, sadly in some ways for me, it is hardly used these days. It has two waterfalls and the other one has bench with fixed seating that you put your weight on at your own risk, such is its state of disrepair.
At another section there is a concrete stairway, constructed during the boom pre-war days of the Blue Mountains when people used to partake of this activity, that is now overgrown and barely visible.
It leads to even more overgrown shrubbery and is disused entirely these days.
Despite the above, it is a pleasant circuit ramble of between 1 and 2 hours, depending on your pace.
There is an obscure and, these days, little used walk out the back of Leura on the other side of the railway tracks.
This is where this shot was taken.
Fondest memory: Callistemon is its scientific name and it is the largest family of flowering plants with over 1000 varieties, the Myrtaceae (myrtles). Possibly the best known and widely grown of Australian shrubs. Hardy with tough leaves, often with paper bark, Flowers are produced in dense spikes at the end of the branches. The stamens are the most conspicuous part of the flower and are in colours of green, yellow, white and various shades of red and violet. They vary in size from one and half metre shrubs to small trees.
This flower, commonly known as a waratah, can be found in springtime at various places around the Blue Mountains if you know where to look.
This particular one was shot near Pulpit Rock on the Grose Valley side of the highway.
It also happens to be the State Emblem of N.S.W. Though it's not overly common, it isn't endangered either.
It's also often confused with the Gymea Lilly (see my Nelson Bay pages) but easily distinguishable as the latter has a very tall stalk and a much larger flower.
Fondest memory: In 1793 the English botanist, Sir James Smith, wrote in a publication "The most magnificent plant which the prolific soil of New Holland affords is, by common consent of Europeans and natives, the Waratah."
Aborigines used the seeds of several species as a source of food. Some species are toxic.
The original Waratah is native to a small area of the central coast of New South Wales, and it grows wildly in hilly areas near Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, and on the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, whilst other species grow in Victoria and Tasmania.
It was proclaimed the official floral emblem of New South Wales on 24 October 1962.
It is a slender, erect shrub, to 3 metres tall and about 1.5 metres across. It has stiff, wedge-shaped and usually coarsely toothed, dark green, leathery leaves to 15 cm long. In cultivation they can grow to about twice the size.
The NSW species normally flowers red, but many produce pink or even white flowers. A rare white-flowering form, ‘Wirrimbirra White’, is occasionally available from specialist growers.
The large, bright crimson flowerheads consist of many small flowers densely packed into conical or peaked dome-shaped heads to 15 cm across, and surrounded by a collar of large red, smooth bracts. The ‘flower’ is in fact a conflorescence that comprises, depending on the species, as many as 240 individual flowers. It flowers during spring, October to November.
It is a bird-attracting plant, providing large quantities of nectar for a variety of honeyeaters.
Yes, hiking here will invariably involve steps. Lots of them. Don't let that put you off. The rewards are worth it.
Fondest memory: As you descend on this particular stairway, there are weeping rocks, dripping sandstone and plenty of ferns until you reach the base where it all comes together and forms Empress Falls.
This is one of the four hour walks I have been on a few times that ends up at Wentworth Falls where you have to climb up beside them and return on the Undercliff (recommended) or Overcliff track to the carpark.
It's called the National Pass walk and you can get your guide map at the carpark where there is a National Parks and Wildlife Office on the ridge above the cliffs.
Poor old Lithgow, a town with an image problem. It's just on the wrong side of the mountains, in a valley and it's cold in winter!
The town has much history of interest. Once it had a small arms factory (opened 1912), that's as in machine guns and rifles etc. It also spawned one of our greatest Olympians, Marjorie Jackson, the Lithgow Flash, who won medals in sprinting and is now a deserving governor of South Australia. Frankly, if there were more people like Marjorie, there'd be no wars. She is one of the finest human beings I've ever seen. I digress!
The first substantial settler was Scotsman Andrew Brown who later founded St Andrew's College at the University of Sydney. He established 'Cooerwull' station at what is now Bowenfels in 1824 and built a water-powered mill which he later converted to steam power by using coal mined on his property, although the state of road transport over the Blue Mountains precluded commercial mining.
Construction of a railway line into the Lithgow Valley began in 1866. At that time there were but five landholders in the valley. When it was completed in 1869, the Zig Zag Railway was acclaimed worldwide as a major engineering feat. It was intended to link Sydney to Bathurst and the prosperous farming areas beyond the Blue Mountains. Furthermore, it enabled the industrialisation of Lithgow (and therefore the establishment of the town) by making the exportation of coal and iron commercially viable. Not surprisingly, the railways became the biggest customer for that coal and iron. Consequently, the road-town of Bowenfels declined and Lithgow emerged as the railhead for the western region and the major industrial centre of NSW in the latter part of the 19th century.
However, the constant change of direction required by the Zig Zag system imposed limitations upon the length of trains which could use the line. In the long run this affected the economic viability of the service and hence of the area's industry.
Fondest memory: Thomas Brown, whose property 'Eskbank' was the second-oldest in the valley (1835), commenced the first commercial coalmine the year the railway arrived. Iron was found on his property and iron smelting began in 1875. A blast furnace produced 100 tons of pig-iron per week but cheap imports made inroads. One of the company founders, James Rutherford, dynamited the blast furnace, protesting against the lack of protection.
The employees formed a co-operative and leased the works until William Sandford took over in 1886. He reorganised the plant, introduced Australia's first galvanising and corrugating works in 1894 and, in 1900, imported an open-hearth furnace and successfully puddled Australia's first steel. He built the nation's first modern blast furnace in 1907 but went into liquidation in 1908 when government assistance did not materialize
The next owners, G & C Hoskins, made a great financial success of the venture, employing 632 people by 1909, but poor industrial relations led to a nine-month strike in 1911 which ended in a riot when scabs were brought in. Nonetheless the demands of an expanding rail system and an encroaching war saw a second blast furnace opened in 1913. However, BHP opened a steelworks at Newcastle in 1915 with obvious advantages over Lithgow. There was an insufficiency in supplies of both good quality ore and coke at Lithgow. In order to compete Hoskins joined Australian Iron and Steel and relocated to Port Kembla in 1928. The blast furnaces were removed in 1932 making local unemployment during the Great Depression even worse.
Thomas Mort set up a slaughtering and meat refrigeration works in 1875 with the first chilled meat arriving from Lithgow in 1880. In 1876 the Lithgow Valley Colliery set up the Lithgow Pottery, manufacturing bricks, pipes and domestic items out of clay but it closed down in 1898 due to the depression, though pipes and bricks were still made.
The famous Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains... Go for a hike from here and you will see some wonderful waterfalls and sites!
There is also a suspension car (gondola?) going across from mountain top to mountain top and a 'train' going down to a viewing platform. I recommend the train if you're scared of heights like myself! See the tips in Must See Activities for more info...
A huge cliff somewhere in the Blue Mountains that we found while on a long walk...
I wouldn't go that close to the edge because I'm scared of heights but my crazy friends wanted this photo of themselves... Just below that cliff was a lot of nothing... ;)
(Hehe... Yes, I know...as someone has already said, how can I be scared of heights if I went sky diving?! Well, these heights are totally different...from a plane your brain can't comprehend the heights. ;) )
Katoomba has a pop of approx 8300 and has adjacent centres of Wentworth Falls and Leura (which has a great lollie shop).
Katoomba is where the Sydney "plains-dwellers" escape the summer heat, and has long catered to vistors. Despite the number of touriests and closeness to Sydney, Katoomba has an uncanny atmosphere; another time, another place, accentuated by its Art Nouveau and Art Deco guesthouses and cafes, it's thick mists and occasional early snowfalls.
Favorite thing: You'll find great views no matter where you look in the Blue Mountains... I'm told Govett's Leap was named after a bushranger who was 'cornered' by the police so he jumped over the edge rather than getting caught...I have never found out if that is a true story or not though...anyone else know??