Blue Mountains Australia ~ New South Wales Travel
Panoramic Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia
Somehow, I always had something else to see first. I finally made up for lost time, and booked four nights at the Leura Gardens Resort. Hoping for good weather, I hopped on a train heading for Katoomba. Though the weather didn't fully cooperate, I had a great time.
The first day, I took got an overwiew of the tour bus route, picked up some food, juice etc in Katoomba. The next day, since a heavy fog blocked good mountain views, I explored Katoomba and Leura.
I could easily have spent a week here, happily exploring trails and shops. I could have happily spent several days at Jenolan Caves, too. If you are going to Sydney, and have time to go the Blue Mountains, do. It's a wonderful part of this amazing country.
Where are the Blue Mountains? About 2 hours by road or rail west of Sydney. 'Blue Mountains' is also the name of a ski area north of Toronto, Canada, near where I live. When I told people I was going to the Blue Mountains, they assumed I meant the one in Ontario. To avoid confusion, I said I was going to Katoomba. Less confusion, more fun to say.
How Long to Spend in Blue Mountains:
If you have only one day, and are not renting a car, take a day tour from Sydney. Tours leave early (6 a.m. is not unusual) and get back late, around 6 p.m. You can also take the train and tour bus for the day.
If you are self-driving, (remember they drive on the left), try to time your arrival in Katoomba - Leura as early in the day as you can. Traffic around Sydney and suburbs can be heavy at peak hours. At the Blue Mountains, there is parking near the major attractions (note they close around 5 p.m.), though parking fills up fast on busy summer weekends.
If you have time to stay several days, then do, especially if you enjoy hiking and exploring the rainforest and watching for 'exotic' birds. There are lots of places to stay, from bed and breakfast to hostels and hotels. Stay for one or even two weeks, and you'll have lots of trails to walk and sights to see.
How Much Do Tours to the Blue Mountains Cost ? Organized day tour excursions prices vary according to what's included, of course. Expect to pay upwards of $100/day to start for a day trip; and upwards of $300 for a multi day trip. If you have three days, then look for City Rail (train) Blue Mountains Explorer packages. I came by train from Central Station in Sydney, for a round trip special rate of about $8 US.
How Much to Scenic World Rides Cost? There are several packages available at Scenic World, and some tour companies will offer packages of their own, based on the most popular rides. My one-way ticket on the Trainway cost $11 AUD (about the same in USD or CAD, at the time of my visit). See Scenic World site for pricing information.
Best Time to Travel: The Australian summer months (December, January, February) are when most visitors and locals head for the Blue Mountains, especially on weekends. Leura is a charming little town with lots of cute shops, trendy restaurants, a golf course. Katoomba shows its coal town roots. Both areas have wonderful older homes and gardens.
Related pages: What to pack for Australia.