The Three Sisters was to the left, and the vast Jamison Valley right below. I was stood at Echo Point, the most popular viewing spot in the Blue Mountains, but standing there, I just wished I could see the view that I came to.
As one of the most popular day trips to take from Sydney, the Blue Mountains is an area of renowned natural beauty, located about 2 hours away by train.
If you’ve read my post about my day in Sydney, you’ll know that I didn’t have much luck with the weather – but that was nothing compared to my time at the Blue Mountains. If you didn’t feel sorry for me in the thunderstorm then, you might do at the end of this.
It was already a little overcast when we left Sydney at 9 am, but as we got closer and closer to the Blue Mountains, the view from the train window became greyer and greyer. By the time we arrived at Katoomba, the main stop for the area, the mist had started to come in, and the rain began to drizzle.
Stupidly, I dressed for ‘Sydney weather’, in nothing but a pair of shorts and a hoodie. This was a big mistake, because it’s much colder in the mountains, meaning the first thing I did when I got off the train was go searching for something warmer. I didn’t want to spend ages looking though, so picked up the first thing I found which was a poncho that I fashioned into a skirt – not ideal, but good enough!
How to get to the Blue Mountains from Sydney
Unless you have a car, the easiest way to reach the Blue Mountains is by train. From Sydney Central station, it’s a direct train to Katoomba which runs only once an hour, so make sure you plan your trip in advance. Fares cost $4.93, so load up your Opal travel card beforehand.
The journey takes about 2 hours but goes quite quickly as there are some great views along the way, especially if you sit on the left of the train.
How to see the Blue Mountains
If you’re going self-guided, the easiest and fastest way of seeing the area is with the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus, a hop-on-hop-off service that stops at all the main sights every 30 minutes. The drivers onboard also provide live commentary of the area, and are there to help with any questions you have – a special shoutout goes to our driver Jimmy, who amazingly greeted everyone on board in their own language, made sure we all knew exactly where to go at each stop, and handed out umbrellas when the rain really picked up.
A ticket for the bus costs $44 per person, which can be bought on the day of your visit from their office right outside Katoomba train station. I did think this was slightly pricey, but it’s valid for up to 7 days so offers better value the longer you stay, and it’s also much cheaper than going with a tour group. You get a booklet which acts as your ticket, and inside is a guide to all of the stops they make in the area, and what you can do at each.
With only one day, I obviously didn’t have enough time to do it all, but what I did get to see only made me want to go back.
If you’re also there for a day trip, here’s my recommended itinerary for the best of the Blue Mountains.
Being short on time, stop number 8 on the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus is a great place to start your day. A quick walkthrough maintained pathways will lead you to a scenic view of Katoomba Falls, a beautiful waterfall flowing over the edge of the mountain into the valley below. I caught sight of it shortly before the mist really came in, and the view was just stunning, and only a taster of what was to come.
Stop number 9, the next on the bus route, is like the ‘theme park’ area of the Blue Mountains (for lack of better words). Here you’ll find Scenic Railway, the steepest passenger railway ride in the world, which was originally built to haul coal from the mines at the bottom.
There’s also Scenic Cableway and Scenic Skyway, which are two cable cars that travel across the Blue Mountains. From what I can tell, both rides are about the same, except the Skyway also terrifyingly has a glass bottom, just in case dangling over 270m above the valley wasn’t scary enough for you.
These are really popular attractions in the Blue Mountains, so consider booking your ticket in advance if you do fancy a ride – you can get it with your Explore Bus ticket for about double the standard fare.
Even in the fog we had that day, there was a queue of people waiting to get on board. I felt pretty bad for them though – there was a TV screen in the foyer which played a promotional video of the cable car ride on a sunny day, and people had their phones out taking pictures of the screen because that was the only photo we were going to get that day.
There’s also a cafe and gift shop here which is a good place to stop for some food, as by now it’ll be approaching lunchtime.
The next main stop on the bus route is Echo Point, the most popular viewing area of the Blue Mountains.
Instead of getting off here like everyone else though, I’d suggest staying on the bus until the next stop instead – Honeymoon Lookout. From here, you can enjoy bushwalking the Prince Henry route which takes about an hour, and goes all the way back to Echo Point.
But the best thing about this walk is it gets you really close to the Three Sisters rock formations. Incredibly, there’s a floating walkway that connects right into the middle of the biggest sister, and the steep steps leading down to the ‘Honeymoon Bridge’ offers some absolutely incredible (and seriously vertigo-inducing) views.
Even in the fog, this is not one to be missed.
If you complete the whole route, the Prince Henry Walk will take you right back to Echo Point, the main viewing area of the Blue Mountains. This is where you’ll be able to gaze out at some of the most beautiful sights in the area, including the Three Sisters where you’ve just walked into, and out into the Jamison Valley.
Well, that’s if you’re not unlucky like me because I saw no. Such. Thing.
I can only laugh.
Back on the bus, stay on until you reach number 17 for your last stop at the Blue Mountains – the Leura Cascades. There’s thick vegetation all around in this area, and the smell of eucalyptus really fills the air.
It’s a short walk on a well-maintained pathway to the bottom, which in about 10 minutes will take you to the foot of the beautiful Leura Falls, the sound of its crashing waves echoing louder and louder as you approach.
It’s possible to see the Leura Cascades within the 30 minutes the next bus rolls around, but of course, you can stay longer to enjoy the area if you have the time.
Heading back to Sydney
Much like the journey here, the train back to Sydney also runs once an hour. From the Leura Cascades, you don’t have to stay on the bus all the way back to Katoomba for the return train. If there’s a service coming soon, you can get off at Leura Village, and wander through the charming shops down the street to the station instead.
Even though my visit was a washout, I really enjoyed exploring the Blue Mountains – let’s just hope I get to see more of it next time!
Have you been to the Blue Mountains? Has the weather ever dampened your sightseeing? Tell me your stories!