7 myths about the Blue Mountains

Ancient rainforests, giant rock formations and bushland the size of a Caribbean nation? Who knew there was so much to this popular destination near Sydney!

There's more to the Blue Mountains than just the Three Sisters
  • Caro Ryan
  • April 2019

It is as popular as it is misunderstood. The Blue Mountains, a World Heritage site that’s home to more than 180 native animals and birds, is a must visit destination that has a lot more going for it than you’d think. We sort the fact from fiction.

There’s only one mountain

The tabletop plateau of the Greater Blue Mountains Area rises from the Sydney plains to cover a space nearly the size of Jamaica (which actually has its own Blue Mountains). Not defined by one specific peak, this region stretches over 10,300 square kilometres and is known for its rock formations and sandstone escarpments that let you gaze down into ancient canyons and gorges. Unlike most mountain hikes, treks here often start at the top and descend into the rainforest.

There’s nothing to do during wet weather

While the misty phantom falls phenomenon – where mist creates a waterfall effect over the cliff tops – may hide the views, locals will tell you that venturing down into the valleys (including Fern Bower and Leura Forest) on a rainy day is the best time to wander the ancient Gondwana rainforest. If staying dry is your preference, you can head west to Jenolan Caves opens in new window to shelter underground and see some incredible limestone formations, join in the open mic sessions at the The Gardners Inn Hotel at Blackheath or roll a jaffa down the aisle of historic cinema Mount Vic Flicks opens in new window.

The mystical Jenolan Caves are just one of the many unique attractions of the region
The mystical Jenolan Caves are just one of the many unique attractions of the region.

You can “do” the Blue Mountains in a day

With 27 towns and villages, a daytrip will leave you wishing for more time. If you get an early start, you’ll be able to see rainforests and waterfalls in the morning, towering cliffs at lunch and farmlands in the afternoon – but there will always be more to explore so staying overnight is a good idea. Accommodation ranges from budget to luxe to the downright quirky Love Cabins opens in new window.

It’s packed with tourists

It is undoubtedly a big tourist draw but go off the beaten track and you can experience the Blue Mountains like a local. Catch the sunset along Narrow Neck Peninsula or go camping around the ghost town ruins of Newnes to beat the crowds. Wandering markets, checking out the latest exhibitions at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre and then eating gourmet pizzas at Station Bar opens in new window are also local faves.

Quiet Narrow Neck Peninsula has views that rival Katoomba
Quiet Narrow Neck Peninsula has views that rival Katoomba.

It’s a little bit old-fashioned

If you visit during one of the many vintage events such as The Roaring 20s Festival, you might think the area is behind the times. But it’s shedding its old-school image with a modern food and arts scene. Eateries such as Fumo opens in new window, galleries and the colourful Katoomba Street Art Walk opens in new window are just some of the highlights. When shopping, look for the MTNS MADE logo, which marks pieces crafted by local artists.

The Three Sisters and Scenic World are all there is to see

Most people are familiar with the Three Sisters and Scenic World opens in new window but there’s much more to the region. Take a guided canyoning trip down Empress Falls Canyon opens in new window, find more than 6000 plant species at The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden opens in new window, do a cooking class in a Wentworth Falls homestead opens in new window, pick your own fruit at Pine Crest Orchard opens in new window or taste local wines at Dryridge Estate opens in new window.

Get wet while abseiling down the stunning Empress Falls
Get wet while abseiling down the stunning Empress Falls.

The region’s history started with the European explorers

Blaxland, Wentworth Falls and Lawson are named after the explorers who crossed this area in the 1800s but walking the Red Hands Cave track near Glenbrook connects you to the deeper past of the Darug people, who, along with the Gundungurra, have been living and exploring here for thousands of years. An Aboriginal Blue Mountains Walkabout opens in new window tour is the perfect way to learn about Indigenous culture.