If you have a plan to visit Australia at some point in your life, you probably already have a list of must sees. The Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bride, Melbourne- reportedly The world’s most livable city, Uluru, The Gold Coast.
Not many people think that they might head to Sydney for a bit of wilderness adventure. Australia has plenty to offer the outdoorsy types, but the typical information that comes out of Australia when it comes to the great outdoors is either ocean based, or perhaps a view at the dead centre, which is amazing and red, but not incredibly good for trekking.
In the state of New South Wales, however, and just outside its capital Sydney, you will find a World heritage park site that is a hiker’s paradise.
The Blue Mountains- named for the volatile oils emitting from the eucalyptus Trees that dominate the rea and are visibly give the mountains their hue- are a mere 150 kilometres outside of the city and are breathtaking in their size and beauty.
Australia is as big physically as The United States, and The Blue Mountains appear as enormous as anything you will find there, the only difference being that much of the area is still untouched by human footprint.
Aboriginals have lived in the area for 22,000 years, and there are cave carvings and paintings showing their inhabitance, but European explorers only managed to cross this mountainous barrier a little over 200 years ago.
The ridge of mountains that separate the fertile eastern seaboard from its dry centre is called The Great Dividing Range, and it is an astoundingly large series of mountains and plateaus.
Some parts of the Blue Mountains are so remote that in 1994, a Wildlife officer by the name of David Noble discovered a tree that he didn’t recognise while he was out on an intrepid bush walk so he took a sample of the tree to a scientist back in the office, and they discovered that he had uncovered a species of tree thought to have been extinct for hundreds of thousands of years.
The Wollemi Pine existed at the time of the dinosaurs, and has never been found anywhere else in the world. Now days you can look at them in Botanical Gardens in Australia, and even buy them in some Gardening shops. They are living fossils, truly odd when compared to trees of today, and up until a little over 20 years ago, never seen by humans before. That is when you know you have true wilderness in your backyard.
The most popular spot to visit in The Blue Mountains for the day tripper is Katoomba and the lookout points that take in The Three Sisters rock formation, as well as the stunning Jamerson Valley.
Katoomba is a busy little village well equipped for tourists, but it still retains a lot of its original charm. Busses and the train will get you up into the mountains, and if you have hired a car, it’s an easy drive.
If you have a little time, why not stay overnight at one of the many B&B hotels, mid range and 5 Star Internationals that are available and take yourself for a hike- a bush walk- through the valley.
There is a nice walk from Leura to Katoomba that takes a couple of hours. It is down, down, down at the start, then up, up, up at the end, but the middle bit is well worth the effort, Take good walking shoes, plenty of water, a camera and pay attention to any local warnings or guidelines.
Australia gets VERY hot in the summer, and it’s cold at night. Also, due to the oils in the trees, the area is prone to vicious bush fires, so stick to the paths and enjoy the earth and the fresh air.
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