Only an hour and a half west of Sydney, Katoomba is the perfect place to base yourself for any trip to the Blue Mountains. Not only is it surrounded by stunning geological features, waterfalls, and lush rainforest, but the relaxed vibe of the town itself is, for me, one of the biggest drawcards.
Park: Blue Mountains National Park
Eating & Sleeping: If you’re after some creature comforts on your trip to the Blue Mountains (as we were), I can recommend staying at Three Explorers Motel. It was extremely nice for the price. For a tasty, affordable meal, try Pomegranate Cafe, or the awesome courtyard at Vee’s Cafe.
My lady and I had three glorious days in the Blue Mountains last week; some increasingly rare alone-time in one of our favourite places. It was blissful, and equal parts relaxing and outdoorsy.
On our final day we walked the famous Grand Canyon loop, which Lori has offered to write a guest post about (coming soon). We actually visited Wentworth Falls, Katoomba Falls, and Echo Point over the first two days, but they could easily be squeezed into one.
There are a veritable shitload of walking tracks around Wentworth Falls, all teeming with views of the falls, Jamison Creek, and across the Jamison Valley to Mount Solitary. We chose a short walk, just to check out the falls.
Take your first glimpse of the falls from Wentworth Falls Lookout, before heading east on Wentworth Falls Track. This takes you down a series of log steps, through increasingly dense rainforest. There are turn-offs but the falls are well-signed.
Before long you’ll find yourself at Queens Cascades, where Jamison Creek tumbles into a sandy waterhole before falling 187 metres, over two drops,to the valley floor. Providing water levels aren’t too high, the creek can be crossed here on stepping stones. We chose to continue a short way beyond the creek crossing, for another view of Wentworth Falls.
Heading back towards the carpark on Wentworth Falls Track, a short detour at the first turn-off (Weeping Rock Track) affords a close-up view of Weeping Rock, a small waterfall where Jamison Creek cascades over a rock overhang. Be careful here as the rocks are slippery. Continue along this track to return to the carpark, as it loops back around to join Wentworth Falls Track.
Length (km): approx. 2 km.
Time (hrs/min): 1 hour.
Return / Circuit / One-Way / Partial Circuit: Partial Circuit.
Grade: Easy (with quite a few steps).
Access: If travelling by car, turn south off the Great Western Highway onto Falls Road. Follow it to the end and turn right into Sir H Burrell Drive and the car park (where this walk begins). Alternatively, this is approximately 30 minutes walk from Wentworth Falls Station.
Katoomba Falls & The Scenic Railway
Dropping 55 metres over a rock escarpment into Jamison Valley, Katoomba Falls is another one of the area’s most beautiful and easily-accessible attractions. Head through the small park to find the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, and follow it for about 5 minutes, turning left to find Vaniman’s Lookout, which offers a brilliant view of the falls and the Jamison Valley.
Lori at Vaniman’s Lookout, taking in the Jamison Valley (taken from the top of the Katoomba Falls track)
From here the track descends steeply on narrow staircases, through thick rainforest foliage. You’ll pass several lookouts (including Juliets Balcony) and optional detours along the way. The first detour would make for a 20 minute loop-walk back to the car. We had decided to check out the Scenic Railway, and were only just going to make the last train for the day, so we continued the rapid descent down Furber Steps to the valley floor.
We were expecting the scenic railway to be a bit craptacular, and it didn’t disappoint. We even knew it would be overpriced, but I still got quite the shock when we made it to the top in all of 90 seconds, and were asked to pay $28. Crikey… They must be raking it in. We were well and truly ready for a nice dinner and some chill-out time though, so considering the alternative climb back up those stairs, we’re still not regretting our decision to go with it.
Length (km): approx. 1 km (returning via the Scenic Railway).
Time (hrs/min): 1.5 hours.
Return / Circuit / One-Way / Partial Circuit: Circuit.
Grade: Easy (but it includes a total descent of about 200 metres on steep staircases).
Access: The walk begins from the park next to Katoomba Falls Kiosk, which is on Cliff Drive in Katoomba.
The Three Sisters are undoubtedly one of the Blue Mountains most famous geological features, and Echo Point is one of the best viewing points. With Mount Solitary in the background, this makes for a beautiful vista, but being so close to town it is very busy.
This isn’t a walk, obviously, but if you’re in Katoomba you’d be silly not to check it out, since it’s right near the centre of town. There are walking tracks surrounding the lookout, so you could probably make this part of a hike with some planning.
Have you visited the Blue Mountains? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.