If you want to get the best experience with cliffs up close and personal (other than abseiling) then this is the spot. The drama of the vertical drop is right before your eyes and somehow has a power that is reproduced nowhere else I’ve been. Of course, it’s all so much better if your camera is working properly. My main lens had died so I was reduced to using others.
The stunning piece of natural formation could never really be captured by a camera though, you really have to get out there yourself.
The views aren't that bad looking across Grose Valley either.
I remember a noted writer and T.V. presenter suggesting that you should always look back so as not to miss a photo opportunity. She cited an example in her book and had produced a wonderful shot of the Napalese foothills.
I mention this because I deliberately did the Grand Canyon loop in a different direction this time to my previous few trips and, lo and behold, as usual I saw things I hadn't noticed before.
I was mainly after a shot of a feature I call the shower. It's a waterfall that forms a wet curtain and looks so beautiful when it's running properly; i.e. when there's a lot of water around.
That aside, I also got to veiw other places from different perspectives and it backed up my view that it's the best day walk in the Blue Mountains, I hope you agree.
The 2 1/2 hour walk I managed in around 4 1/2. Of course, I did take around 250 photographs so I guess I have some excuse
Fondest memory: It was such a perfect day for pictures, almost 100% cloud cover and lots of water which makes it tricky when you reach the numerous creek crossings but excellent for the waterfalls.
Though I was focused on getting down the shower which was about 80% of the way through my trek; I was seeing areas in different ways and had to stop to take pictures constantly, passing by an English couple and about 15 canyoners on the way.
The lushness of the area was almost unprecedented and precipitation oozed from every second rock slab.
Then I eventually got to the shower and it was special and I finally managed to nail it to my satisfaction and later on saw some fungus which finally justified why I'd carried my macro gear around. Hope you enjoy.
There's a lot of bird life in the Blue Mountains. In different parts you'll find different species. For instance, you're likely to see yellow tailed black cockatoos along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk but not over at Govetts Leap.
The yellow tufted honeyeater can be spied on the western slopes but you're more likely to see New Holland honeyeaters around Katoomba.
There's cheeky wrens at Newnes that clamour around a warm campfire, rock warblers up near the Glow Worm Cave, wattle birds everywhere, as are eastern yellow robins.
The flashier robins like the scarlet and flame are also there for the viewing along with a score of other little birds like the red-eyed finch, blue wren, thorn birds et cetera.
The red rumped parrot puts in an appearance on the western side but you won't see it on the eastern and the most wondrous bird of all, for me, the lyrebird can more often than not be heard but not seen, such is its magnificent mimicry and excellent camouflage.
Fondest memory: While spending some time at Govetts Leap, in one tree I sat and watched and photographed all manner of birds.
There were rufous fantails, tree creepers, crimson rosellas, a kookaburra, scrub wrens, flame robins, spotted pardalotes and others I've forgotten. Such an array of colours, such a spectacle. When you're at the lookout, if you want to see birds, allocate an hour, ideally not long after dawn and you'll be surprised at just how many there are.
They are the iconic image of the Blue Mountains. Familiar around the world, this set of worn sandstone prominences certainly catch the eye when you're standing at Echo Point. Rest assured, whilst you're there, you won't be alone. Tourists come here by the busload but, if you're here just after sunrise or just before sunset, when it's best for photography, there is a chance there won't be too many people there,
I hope some of the images here convey the beauty of the place.
Fondest memory: This is what the World Heritage site has to say about them:
The Three Sisters is the Blue Mountains’ most spectacular landmark. Located at Echo Point Katoomba, around 2.5 kilometres from the Great Western Highway, this iconic visitor attraction is experienced by millions of people each year, the majority are foreigners.
The Three Sisters is essentially an unusual rock formation representing three sisters who according to Aboriginal legend were turned to stone.
The character of the Three Sisters changes throughout the day and throughout the seasons as the sunlight brings out the magnificent colours. The Three Sisters is also floodlit until around 11pm each evening looking simply spectacular set against the black background of the night sky.
Each of the Three Sisters stand at 922, 918 & 906 metres tall, respectively.
That's over 3000 feet above sea level!
The Legend: The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, 'Meehni', 'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo' lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe.
These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry.
The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle.
As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.
One of my favourites anywhere is at the carpark at Blackheath, just a little way down the road from Katoomba.
Fondest memory: When I visited in October 2010 I noticed the Butterfly Walk, a small access lane that had been beautified by the addition of several murals, some of which I share with you here.
The lane runs off the western side of the CBD in Katoomba Street.
Murals are a thing that have evolved in towns in Australia over the last 20 years. Yes, there were some before in various places but they have proliferated to a degree from towards the end of the 20th century.
Fondest memory: The first one pictured here really caught my eye. For me it captured the essence of the Blue Mountains, those wondrous cliffs. I also loved the colours the artist used.
The other one is fairly self descriptive but nonetheless still a nice rendition.
Both of these you can spy in the main shopping centre towards the top of the hill.
Grose Valley has claims to being the most spectacular of all the valleys. Every time I've been there it never fails to impress.
Fondest memory: The best place to view this spectacle is at Govetts Leap at the northern side of Blackheath, a town just a few kilometres west of Katoomba. You could even catch a train there to do this.
There are several options when you get there and checking the view from Govetts Leap is merely one of them.
You will have company as it's a very popular spot but don't let that stop you. A crowd here is no problem as there's plenty of room.
To feel the dominance and be in awe of the Blue Mountains you have to stand beneath one of those towering cliff faces. Ii is this kind of reverence that led to the Blue Mountains area being listed as one of Australia's first national parks.
Fondest memory: In this opening 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.
At one end is the famous Wentworth Falls and at the other the less well known Empress Falls (pic 2). Either way you have to climb down and up but don't be frightened, it takes a lot less time than you'd think.
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.
The Campbell Rhododendron Gardens (nee Bacchante, the street where they are located at Blackheath) cover eighteen and a half hectares of sclerophyl forest. As well as the whites, pinks and reds more common in coastal areas, the colours here include yellow, orange and deep violet.
Azaleas (related to the rhododendron) also proliferate in springtime.
What has happened here is that the whole thing is done on a voluntary basis. It's really quite extraordinary. Mostly older people with botanical experience who have either moved up here in retirement or always been here (not many other options I suppose!) tend this wonderful display. There are about eight of them.
Basically, the flowers have been planted intermittently throughout the forest so there are flashes of colour rather than a vast expanse of same.
If you're looking for them then the signs say "Rhodo Gardens".
Fondest memory: This project is under the control of the Blue Mountains Rhododendron Society and is for the study and growing of many hundreds of varieties and species of the really beautiful Rhododendron.
They look forward to your donation in the box provided as this project is maintained from the money visitors donate and the members' subscriptions as well as the support of citizens and local Clubs and Societies.
In the main valley an attractive lake and 5 pools have been constructed. The purpose of the Garden is to educate the public and interested groups who wish to delve more deeply into the Genus Rhododendron, and to conserve the natural features of the area for the pleasure of visitors and to encourage tourists to enjoy the beauty of the garden.
A feature of the Garden is the beautiful Natural Fern Glades and the abundance of Native Flora which we proudly protect for future generations to enjoy - please help to preserve it.
Visitors to the Garden are reminded that the flowering season for Rhododendrons is September, October and November but the peak period is the end of October and early November. Mollis Azaleas are a special feature at this time as well.
The Garden is a delight in Autumn when so many deciduous trees look their best during April. The latest project is the planting of a Conifer Garden.
Favorite thing: Not people have the chance to explore the valley floors of the mountains which is rich in wildlife, especially the eucalyptus trees which the volatile eucalyptus oil is said to give the bluish colour of the mountains. If you plan to stay long, you can try to do some walking on the valley floors.
Fondest memory: One of the things I enjoyed about Katoomba was coming across this beautiful mural in progress on a wall beside a Veterinary clinic, representing so much of the surroundings and flora and fauna.
Favorite thing: There are a number of breathtaking waterfalls in the Blue Mountains. You can see them if you trek along the trails.
Favorite thing: The mountain range are titled the "Blue Mountains" because of the blue haze the mountains mainly GUM trees give off.
Favorite thing: There are many waterfalls scattered through out the park, some big, some small. Plenty of photography hot shots.
Favorite thing: There are literally hundreds of lookouts around Katoomba that offer spectacular views of the rugged cliffs.