This is a good way to get familiar with the area.
It begins at the Carrington Hotel, Katoomba Street, Katoomba each hour travelling to 29 Great Local Attractions around the Katoomba and Leura World Heritage area. The tour runs daily and includes full commentary on the history of the Blue Mountains and will stop anywhere on route for photo opportunities, plus you can hop on and hop off at any of the stops and rejoin the the tour later!
Trolleys pass by each of the major attractions, resorts and hotels in the area including the Peppers Fairmont Resort, Leura Gardens Resort, Mountains Heritage, the Carrington Hotel, the Metropole and Lilianfels. Use the Blue Mountains Bus Co bus services to get yourself to Blackheath, Govetts Leap, Wentworth Falls and other areas. This service is included in your Trolley tour all day pass.
From Echo Point the Trolley returns to Katoomba Station to commence the next 1 hour tour or there are Trolley shuttle buses every 30 minutes to the main Katoomba shopping precinct. This is also the stop for shuttle buses to the Scenic Skyway and Scenic World.
Blue Mountains Trolley Tours and Scenic World provide wheelchair access. Give us a call to let us know your coming and we will look after your needs.
You can purchase your $25 Hop On and Hop Off All Day Pass from the Trolley Shoppe located at:
This cliff top walk, if done in its entirety, is probably all you'd want to do in a day. You'd certainly want to allocate 4 hours for the chore.
Having said that, most people opt to do just a part of it, as we did, and loop back on another trail.
It stretches from Scenic World all the way around to beyond Leura, en route taking in some of the best lookouts in the Blue Mountains.
The most popular sections are Scenic World to Echo Point or Echo Point to Leura. We chose to go down on the Dardanelles Pass trail from Leura but it was closed due to a landslide so we ended up going along the Prince Henry cliff top walk and returning on Cliff Drive after an excursion down to the Three Sisters.
At the Leura Cascades end there are several lookouts offering varied vantage points across Jamison Valley after you leave the cascades.
It took us about three hours for this round trip though at times we dawdled.
I've included more detailed information in the second tip I wrote four years later.
This is the most scenic of all the walks in the Blue Mountains and goes from Katoomba to Leura, covering the top of the cliff line and many of the major lookouts. With photogenic vistas and waterfalls all along the way, the views of the Jamison Valley are unsurpassed. Time should be set aside to dawdle along the cliffs and soak up the serenity of the cliffs.
The walk starts at the Gordon Falls lookout near Leura or the Scenic World and is a great way to soak in the mountain air and get some exercise. The concrete path at Leura commences near a large information sign (and map) but becomes rockier as it descends Leura Cascades towards Bridal Veil lookout.
The walk continues alongside the Prince Henry Drive, until it reaches a stunning lookout, Tarpeian Rock. This elevated vantage point has clear views of Mt Solitary.
If it's been raining, do not miss the short diversion to the Bridal Veil Falls lookout (there are two Bridal Veil Falls in the Blue Mountains); see other tips for more info.
From Tarpeian, the track becomes a little more challenging, climbing uphill and presenting some steps towards Olympian Rock and across a high concrete bridge to the interesting Elysian Rock.
From here, the walk follows the cliff line all the way to the adjacent Millamurra and Tallawarra Lookouts, both worthy of a pause and both presenting sweeping views over the valley while you catch your breath. You next climb and reach the stunning rock towers at Echo Point, known as the Three Sisters. This next climb is long but steady and the 180 to 270 degree view of the Jamison Valley on show from this lookout is seriously incredible, you can see for kilometres.
Then you carry on to Scenic World and there are another 6 lookouts en route as you scout around the back of Katoomba Falls on your way to the Scenic Railway.
The total walk is just under 9 kilometres but, remember, there are many diversions en route. I'd allow a minimum of 4 hours.
Apart from being such a wonderful huge area of Wilderness, these combined National Parks here including the Blue Mountains National park are a great place for "birdwatchers". Also spotting the many animal wildlife and also a lot of reptiles that are located within the National Parks lizards, wallabies, wombats, snakes, There are so many birds to choose from , there are parrots , Lorrikeets, Cockatoos, birds of Prey, smallbirds of the heath and with such an abundance of wildflowers, the birdlife is prolific...Many photo opportunities are available everywhere you point your camera. The parrots and cockatoos are particularly colourful.
ALWAYS WEAR GOOD COMFORTABLE HIKING /WALKING BOOTS.
A fantastic experience. Join a group of fun fellow adventurers to enjoy a site that not only offers a variety of abseiling, but spectacular Mountains views as well. Both jumps start with safety lessons and all guides are fully trained and certified.
In 1884, Katoomba was a small little mining village, and its main mine was deep in the heart of the Blue Mountains. This mine was responsible for 20,000 tons of coal that year, and it came with some significant challenges. How to haul the coal up to the top of the valley was the key concern, so they added a "skip" to carry the coal up. As the mine began to produce less and less, this area was used to showcase some of the lower valley, and hikers would hike down to the bottom and complain about the hike back up, sometimes begging the miners to jump on the skip. As money started being exchanged for these rides... an idea popped up. Charging to use the skip on the off days for the mine.
Out of this came Scenic World! The railway is now considered the steepest incline railway in the world. For more information, check out the website!
I push on until I come to the turn off to the left indicating the Grand Canyon walk but ahead of me there’s another. I decide to take it.
Veils of droplets descend in delicate crystal showers from fern roots desperately clinging to niches in the sheer sandstone walls. The blipping sound of the water into the pools beneath is interspersed by the gleeful croaks of frogs happy to see the water once again returning more regularly to the ponds they call home. Lichen clings to other sites and fungi occasionally makes an appearance on some long ago fallen tree.
A massive log jam on one side is a reminder of what force nature can unleash when unrestrained yet the soft moss carpeting the rocks seems to belie any such maelstrom. Here and there the brightness of the sky penetrates this eerie world, lighting walls that man has ne’r touched and dancing on the ripples below the numerous cascades.
Amazingly, probably only 1-2 kilometres away, as per the flying crow, Katoomba Airport is located yet down here it might as well be on another planet. The only flying thing you can hear is the occasional bird call bouncing around the sandstone walls.
Too soon my time is up and I turn around and head back, retracing my steps all the way to the motorhome with one or two stops on the way out. It’s not until I’m almost at the carpark again that the first of the weekend bushwalkers put in an appearance. I’m grateful to have had the 2 ½ hours down there to myself and vow to repeat the dose some time in the future.
This walk is one of the more popular in the Blue Mountains
I hit the trail well before 7 a.m. The wind was brisk and the red sunrise foretold of a day that was not going to be totally benign. A quick glance at the view across Grose Valley from Evans Lookout into the mist tinged floor and I began the descent, initially on the old stone stairs and then on the new, solid, almost shiny, rock stepping stones whose absence had caused the trail to be closed for months.
I moved through the wildflowers, predominantly yellow, purple and white, and the matchstick straight eucalypts and coachwood that were such a contrast to their bent and gaunt counterparts atop the wind ravaged plateau. Water was trickling through the small gully beside the track, gurgling with delight that the remnants of yesterday’s violent storm had given it life. The greater the number of steps the more the chasm narrowed; ferns became a dominant vegetation in this world where light has but a fleeting presence.
After half an hour I came to the intersection where you can go straight ahead to Beauchamp Falls or right to the Grand Canyon and Neates Glen. The former option was closed so it wasn’t really an option at all.
It’s also where two streams meet. Stepping across the stony creek bed I picked up the track again and pushed on into the surreal world of the Blue Mountains canyons.
(continued next tip)
Wow… Katoomba and the Blue Mountains… Fantastic scenery and every photographers dream.
The name, the Blue Mountains, derives from the blue mist above the area. It is caused by oil from Eucalyptus trees combined with water haze and special rays of light.
There are lots of walking tracks in the area, and we spend a whole day just walking from lookout to lookout. The view of the Jamison Valley is stunning!
This new ride is called the Scenicender (pic 2) although all the literature labels it the Flyway. It takes just 3 minutes and holds 84 passengers. If they were all adults and paying $8 a time, go figure how much money they make on a long weekend. I worked it out. The answer is heaps! Good luck to them I say.
For me the plus side is that at least it encourages people to go who may not otherwise go to get amongst the rainforest and may, in a few cases, prompt them to venture further. An example of this happened when a lady approached me about other possible walks in the valley, so enchanted was she with this. Why she approached me in particular I can only assume is because I had my camera mounted on my tripod and people have this misconception that you may be knowledgeable about things.
The other ride is the Skyway. It was totally rebuilt and has a Dopplemayr car with a see through floor. This is not recommended for those who may suffer from vertigo as it's a 200 metre drop beneath you.
The car does a horizontal traverse across the top of Katoomba Falls.
When you've finished all your excitement you can relax in Australia's first restaurant with a revolving floor. Constructed in 1962 it sits atop all the rides and gives a panoramic view over to the Three Sisters and beyond.
And it rolled in to such an extent that in 2001 the Hammon family built a cable car to a point lower than the Scenic Railway and constructed an informative and user friendly boardwalk in the rainforest.
At many points along the route it lists flora and key facts about same. The 2.2km raised boardwalk also has a Rainforest Room, Miners Hut and several storm shelters. This is the place to take your children and is also good for wheelchairs. Trivia-wise, it's the longest elevated boardwalk in Australia.
An alternative route to the bottom is the Gruber Stairs. Many people choose to either go to the bottom in one of the two rides and walk up or the reverse, an option seemingly easier.
Having been caught out once I should warn people that I was once told (on a long climb in N.Z.) that it's "heart up, knees down", meaning that you may huff and puff while ascending but your legs may suffer more going down.
Here (pic 2) we see Rosemarie trying to con her gym instructor by posing uphill when in fact we took the downhill route on the Gruber Steps.
In time I imagine the whole complex will be known as "Scenic World", its correct title today. However, icons die hard and the majority of Australians will still be saying the "Scenic Railway" for some time to come.
It is because of a coal and kerosene shale mining industry that we have this complex today. Without it, it is fairly likely it may never have happened.
Bushwalkers who had walked the Federal Pass Track, the most famous of the valley meanders, used to beg to be carried up in the coal skips rather than ascend around 1,000 stairs to the top.
Mine management saw a dollar in the idea and had a special passenger carriage built that used to carry 24 people.
Meanwhile the colliery closed down at the end of WWII but Harry Hammon fortuitously took over the lease.
Being an engineer he made an even better car and expanded the capacity. In 1958, with a lot of ex-mining parts again, he made the Scenic Skyway, a horizontal cable car that spans the Katoomba Falls. The money rolled in.
The Carrington has a long and rich history spanning almost a century and a quarter since her establishment by Sydney hotelier Harry Rowell.
Opened in 1882 as The Great Western, this Grand Old Lady soon became a popular mountain retreat for international visitors, the elite of Sydney and those eager to see the natural wonders of the Blue Mountains.
Renamed 'The Carrington' in 1886, in honour of the then Governor of New South Wales, Lord Carrington, the hotel was extended by its new owner, Mr F C Goyder who is credited with the creation of The Grand Dining Room. With its extended and upgraded facilities, The Carrington gained even more acceptance as a world class establishment.
By the early 1900's The Carrington's reputation as the premier tourist resort in the Southern Hemisphere was undisputed and the newspapers of the day often cited her as the only rival to Raffles within The Empire.
Sold in 1911 to Sir James Joynton Smith, who introduced the famous stained glass facade, The Carrington entered a new phase and quickly became known as the honeymoon destination of choice, and this remained so for the next half a century.
Although in a time of decline in Mountains tourism, The Carrington remained popular as ever through the 1950's and 60's and was bought by Theo Morris, a developer, in 1968. Despite the dwindling popularity of the Mountains in the 70's and the toll taken by time on the Hotel, her loyal clientele kept her afloat for nearly twenty more years.
The Carrington closed her doors in late 1985 and remained empty and derelict until 1991 when it was purchased with the aim of restoring and relaunching this Grand Old Lady of the Mountains.
The Carrington reopened her doors in December 1998 after eight years of restoration, and works are continuing on the restoration of the gardens, garages, stables, and powerhouse.
Weirder the Better and the famous Paragon Cafe are legendary shops on the main street.
The former is aptly descibed in its name. It supplies just what is says and the photo of the shop window might give you some idea of what to expect.
At the Paragon they have the original hand made chocolates as they have had for over the last fifty years.
Remember the old style cubicle milk bars? This is one of them. Go ahead, live in the past for an hour or so, you'll love it. A Katoomba icon..
Besides the beautiful scenery and the walking tracks, you also find the Scenic World in Katoomba. The Scenic World includes the Scenic Skyway, the Scenic Railway, the Scenic Walkway and the Scenic Cableway.
We took a ride with the Scenic Skyway - a 720 m journey, 270 m above the Katoomba Falls. There is a fantastic view and this is a recommendable ride. I didn’t try the other rides, so can’t comment.