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Blue Mountains
BlackheathThe Blue Mountains are located on the western fringe of the Sydney basin. The centre of the region, Katoomba, is just over 100 km from the Sydney CBD, making Blue Mountains towns suitable for day trips, though there is so much to see and do a longer stay is easily justified. For many years Sydneysiders have flocked to the mountains to escape the summer heat, and for a time it was a spa resort. Temperatures in the Blue Mountains average from 12 to 22 degrees Celsius in the summer, and from 3 to 9 degrees in the winter.

Why the name the Blue Mountains? This is down to the interaction between light rays and the fine droplets of eucalyptus oil from the pristine forests of gum trees, resulting in distant objects appearing a shimmering blue.

The centre of the Blue Mountains is Katoomba.Apart from Katoomba, the other main towns of the region are Blackheath, Leura, Lithgow, Medlow Bath, Mount Victoria, Oberon, Springwood and Wentworth Falls. Most of the accommodation is available in these towns, but more choices, including charming B&Bs, grand old hotels and modern resort-style hotels are available.

For our full list of accommodation available in the region click here.

The region is renowned for its natural attractions, with forests, rock formations, bushwalks, lookouts, waterfalls and more. In addition to the Blue Mountains National Park, there is Wollemi National Park to the north and Kanangra - Boyd National Park to the south, vast expanses to explore. The most popular spot in the region is Echo Point, near Katoomba, with its spectacular views over the Jamison Valley and of that icon of the Blue Mountains, the Three Sisters. Nearby is the Scenic Skyway and Scenic Railway complex, where you can catch a steep ride to the bottom of the Jamison Valley. Also nearby are Katoomba Falls, brilliantly floodlit for night viewing. Also in Katoomba is the Edge Cinema, with its six-storey screen, one of its films a 38 minute virtual tour of the Blue Mountains wilderness.

Of course there is far more to the Blue Mountains than Katoomba. Falconbridge is home to the Norman Lindsay Gallery, where works by the artist are displayed in his former residence. Govett's Leap, near Blackheath, has one of the finest viewing points in the region. Also in Blackheath is the National Parks and Wildlife Service's Heritage centre, with an art exhibition, educational displays, maps and information on walking tracks. To the north, near Clarence, is the Zig Zag Railway - here you can learn how rail engineers solved the difficulty of getting a steam train down a steep descent. South-west of Katoomba visit Jenolan Caves, with 9 caves available for viewing, all spectacularly lit, and with guided tours available. If you have time to spare take the Grand Circular Tourist Drive, which begins at Penrith, follows the Great Western Highway before circling back via the Bells Line of Road, ending in Richmond. This route will take you past the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens, which houses amongst its many specimens some Wollemi Pine saplings, that recently discovered, highly protected living fossil.

The mountains are a popular destination in winter, as a regionwide Yulefest celebrates mid-year Christmas Northern Hemisphere-style. If you're lucky, you might catch a sight of Santa Claus, practising for the real thing. Many local restaurants are involved, most running both lunches and dinners on the winter weekends. You can find out all the current events, as well as more things to do and see in the Blue Mountains, at the Visitor Information Centres, located in Glenbrook and Katoomba.

How do I get there?

The Blue Mountains are an easy drive west of Sydney. Follow the Western Freeway past Homebush Bay. Once past Penrith, the road starts to climb and wind as you enter the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Katoomba is just over 100 km from the Sydney CBD and can be visited for a day trip although there's so much to do in the Blue Mountains you may want to stay longer.

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