You really don’t have to go to much effort to be wowed in the Blue Mountains. At every turn there are lookouts and short walks where you can gaze over the deep dark valleys and those familiar golden cliffs peeking through the mist. But in a 270,000 square kilometre national park, the opportunities for new experiences, physical challenges and deeper exploration are too good – and too abundant – to pass up. Here’s some of our picks.
Explore on two wheels
Flower-lined fire trails, technical single tracks and village cycling routes flow through some of the most beautiful areas in the Blue Mountains, and exploring on two wheels allows you to see more in less time. Depending on your experience level you can tackle distances of more than 35km in three to five hours, such as the Great Blue Mountains Trail from Leura to Blackheath or the stunning tracks that follow the Narrowneck ridge line and into Megalong Valley.
It’s a relatively short and easy ride to the incredible Hanging Rock, while the fast 28km Oaks Trail from Woodford to Glenbrook clocks more than 1000m of downhill, with the convenience of the train to take you back up to the start. There are also mazes of single tracks in Yellomundee and Knapsack Reserve if you’re looking to tackle some tighter turns. No bike? No worries. Check out Blue Mountains Biking Adventures for bike rentals, guided e-bike tours and a heap of local knowledge (you’ll find them on your CamperMate app) You can also ask about overnight hike-and-bike experiences when a single day just isn’t enough.
Level up your bushwalking skills
When the mood for adventure strikes, forget the more popular half-day tracks and head to a remote campsite with a pack on your back. With the right knowledge and gear it’s not hard to strike out from the crowds, watch the sun sink behind the escarpment and spend the night under the stars. It can be pretty wild out there (the most beautiful places generally are) so if you’re new to the region or remote camping in general, you can always join a guided adventure to gain some confidence and eliminate risk.
Most outdoor adventure companies run trips from autumn to spring and will take you to areas seldom-seen by tourists. On a two-day trip you’ll learn some great bushcraft and survival skills, such as identifying bush tucker, making fire, building shelter and navigating using the sun and the stars.
Scale the cliffs
Surrounded by vertical sandstone some 300m high, it’s no surprise the Blue Mountains have bred one of Australia’s most passionate climbing communities. Whether it’s a tough multi-pitch or bouldering for beginners, there’s nothing that screams “Blueys” louder than a day at the crag. The local mountaineering school and commercial operators should be your first port of call if you’re looking for an introduction to the vertical world. You can learn the ropes or sharpen rusty skills with half and full-day abseiling and rock-climbing trips that cater to newbies and intermediates.
Rappel down a waterfall
When everyone else is keeping cool in their AC, local canyoneers are swimming through flooded slots and sliding down creeks to access the Blue Mountains’ hidden world of green. The canyons in the area have been carved over millennia by the relentless flow of water, sculpting delicate cathedrals decked out with vibrant mosses and vertical fern gardens. They’re tricky to find and even trickier to negotiate, usually with a mix of abseiling, scrambling and swimming required. The popular Empress Canyon is beginner-friendly and seriously impressive with its 30m waterfall abseil!
Unless you’re mates with a pro you’ll want to check out some canyoning tour operators and book your adventure on CamperMate.
Capture golden hour
Photography is a much-loved pastime in the mountains and the subject matter certainly doesn’t make it hard to take a decent snap. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to phenomenal sunset and sunrise spots, interesting rock formations, wildflowers, glowing caves and more waterfalls than you can poke a stick at. Jump on a photography workshop and you’ll find yourself in some jaw-dropping locations – some even take place in the aforementioned canyons if you’re keen on some adventure shots.