Category: Blue Mountains

Category: Blue Mountains
Well wanderers, Downunder I learnt that the blue haze comes from something called ‘Rayleigh Scattering’ a phenomenon investigated by Lord Rayleigh that causes rays of light that impinge on small particles to scatter in various directions. As the atmosphere is laden with dust and water particles, the eyes receive a blue, scattered reflection of the distant object (mountains in this case), and therefore! Are the mountains blue 😀.

Sydney is a huge tourist destination with gorgeous beaches, several major landmarks, gardens, parks, art galleries and more. Some of its most popular claims to fame are the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and Bondi beach, which are all beautiful and definitely worth visiting. However, the swarms of tourists in Sydney can be overwhelming. Also, I’m a bit of an adventure junkie, so when I travel I jump at any chance to get out of the city and go for a hike, swim in a secluded location, or do something a little more physically challenging than posing for a photo with a statue.

A slightly less well known destination outside of Sydney is the Blue Mountains. One of my friends here told me about them because she was able to visit them with her aunt who lives in the area, and she said it was a great experience. I figured it’d be fun to go hiking and see some wilderness and get out of the city for the day, so I started looking into making the trip.

There are a few ways to get to the Blue Mountains. You can drive if you’re comfortable with renting a car, you can take trains or buses to several different towns in the mountains, or you can book a tour with a guide. Considering I still almost get hit every time I have to cross the road because I can’t remember to look right and then left, I didn’t think driving was a great idea. I also didn’t want to waste time wandering around trying to figure out where to go and which trails to take and end up missing things, so I decided to book a tour, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made since I got to Sydney.

I booked with Barefoot Downunder, which is a boutique tour company owned by a husband and wife who live in Sydney, and to be honest, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. The owner, Adam, was actually our tour guide. He picked me up about a block from my hostel, and after picking up the rest of the passengers for the day, we set off for the Blue Mountains. During the drive there, Adam had us all introduce ourselves and get to know each other a little, and gave us a laundry list of things to do and see throughout Australia that would save us from overpaying for regular tourist traps.

The drive to the mountains was about an hour and a half, but it was full of information, and it was great to see some Australian countryside and learn a little about the towns we passed along the way. The hike itself was definitely not for beginners. Adam takes a much longer route than other tour companies, which we know because we saw other groups only go about half the distance we did, but it’s because he wants his customers to get their money’s worth.

blue mountains tours
You get to climb down these,
blue mountains tour tripadvisor
hop across these
blue mountains tour tripadvisor
and see a dozen of these!

Instead of going straight down to the biggest waterfall and back up, he took us on a two and half hour loop that starts with a descent through the forest into a canyon, passes by at least a twelve waterfalls, and ends with a steep climb up a stairway built into the side of a mountain. It was both invigorating and exhausting. The scenery was incomparable to anything else I’ve seen here, but by the time we got back to the top my legs I almost couldn’t walk to the bus.

blue mountains tour tripadvisor
The views are amazing,
best blue mountains tour
and the waterfalls never end,
best blue mountains tour
there’s another one around every corner, *

 

best blue mountains tour
but they keep you going… *
* PHOTOS BY POOJA JARADI
best blue mountains tour
until you have to climb these

The tour didn’t end there though. After the hike, we had lunch at a great café in Leura, where everyone with the tour got 10% off their meal, then we visited the Three Sisters, and  went to Lincoln’s Rock to hang our feet over the edge of the world.

best blue mountains tour
The three sisters
best blue mountains tour
Lincoln’s Rock
best blue mountains tour

When we got back to Sydney, the tour ended with Adam taking us to a bar to treat us all to a drink and by that time it was like sitting down for a drink with a group of old friends. My one beer turned into three, and I was still one of the first people to leave.

best blue mountains tour

Overall, it was definitely one of the best days I’ve had in Sydney. It was exhausting in all the right ways, but more importantly, I felt like I got more than what I paid for. As a natural adventurer, I don’t usually do guided tours or group activities because I like to push myself and I don’t want to be held back, but this was definitely a trip designed for people who want to get out and really experience nature, and challenge themselves, and learn a little something along the way.

If you’re planning a trip to Sydney and you want to get out of the city, away from the hordes of tourists, and connect to the great outdoors, I would definitely recommend booking a trip to the Blue Mountains with Barefoot Downunder. You could technically get there by yourself, and the trails are clearly marked once you reach the mountains, but there really is no replacement for a knowledgeable guide who is passionate about their work and the land. If you’re feeling daring, they actually offer an overnight trip to the mountains too! Plus, it takes a pretty special experience to turn a group of 20 complete strangers into friends in less than 12 hours.

best blue mountains tour

Sydney’s Blue Mountains; an adventure traveler’s paradise

blue mountain tours

BLUE MOUNTAINS- BAREFOOT DOWN UNDER, NEW SOUTH WALES

**********

The Blue Mountains is a mountainous region located in New South Wales, around a two hour drive from Sydney’s CBD.

blue mountains day trip

Thus, the best way to visit them if you are a tourist, without your own transport, is through a guided tour. As usual, Nathan and I only went to book our Blue Mountains tour the night before and unsurprisingly almost all of them were sold out. Luckily, we found one website which still had places- Barefoot Down Under. The website promises that this is not your average bus tour, in that it is more active and ‘off the beaten track’. This could not have been more true!

We arrived at our bus at half 7 to be met by our tour guide, Adam- who was possibly the most Australian person I have ever come across. We were pretty exhausted and slumped into our seats ready to fall asleep for the ride. But Adam had other ideas. As we waited for the rest of our group, Adam placed a black rubber snake on the pavement next to the bus. There were some brilliant reactions from passers by and we knew we’d let ourselves in for a hilarious day.

As we drove along, Adam told amusing stories about his own life in Australia and pointed out our surroundings along with fun facts and personal anecdotes about them, that your standard tour guide just wouldn’t do. He even pulled over to show us a spot where tonnes of wild kangaroos were grazing- his local knowledge was insanely good. Although my photography of the moment was insanely bad.

blue mountains see kangaroos

The first official destination on our Blue Mountains adventure was Wentworth Falls- a beautiful cascading waterfall. We had an intense hike down some very steep and uneven old stone steps and I was wondering why we couldn’t have gone to somewhere more easily accessible. However, all my negativity evaporated the minute I saw the breathtaking falls and the incredible view out over the valley beyond.

hiking tours blue mountains

blue mountains tours

It was 100% worth the trek (although I would’t have admitted that on the intense hike back up), my glutes and calves were on fire, but my eyes were in heaven.

hiking in the blue mountains

On our ascent back up, we went along Charles Darwin walk and passed a smaller waterfall there which was also stunning- I could never tire of seeing natural wonders such as waterfalls.

hiking blue mountain tour

Once we finally made it back up to the top, we collapsed back onto the coach and headed to the Three Sisters- three rugged sandstone peaks set among the cliffs of the Jamison Valley. The view from Echo Point, where we were dropped off, was unbelievable. We also walked along the track to stand right next to the Three Sisters, where the history and natural beauty of them feels truly special.

blue mountains hiking tour

blue mountains hiking tour

Adam’s incredible knowledge also spanned into aboriginal culture and dreamtime stories- he told us the fascinating beliefs of the aboriginals, who believe that the Three Sisters were turned to stone by a witchdoctor, for their own protection, during a major tribal battle. They remain in stone forever as the witchdoctor was killed in the battle. I’m obsessed with mythical stories and the aboriginal dreamtime stories that Adam told us were absolutely magical and enhanced our experience even further.

blue mountains tour echo point

Whilst in the Three Sisters area, we also headed to an aboriginal cultural centre, where Adam taught us how to play the Didgeridoo- an indigenous Australian wind instrument that can produce some lovely music but also sounds very amusing if you can’t play it well. And we definitely could not play it well!

echo point waradah cultural centre

Our final stop of the day was at ‘Scenic World’. Scenic World has the steepest railway in the world and some other rides and general tourist attractions, which most tours would take you on. Adam offered us the option, but also said that they were very overpriced and not worthwhile when you could trek through the stunning scenery on foot for free. We took his advice and headed down to Katoomba Falls.

Although it was still a very active walk, Katoomba falls was more easily accessible than the first stop and you hardly noticed the walk, as by this point everyone had made friends and we were all enjoying chatting away and getting to know each other. Adam also made a mission of finding a Funnel Web spider to show us- a huge deadly Australian native, that although gross, was definitely cool to see.

blue mountains hiking

When we arrived at Katoomba Falls, it too was just as beautiful as the other waterfalls. It was made even more beautiful as a swarm of cockatoos came to greet us all the way up there. Adam was definitely some sort of animal whisperer as the birds just flock towards him on instinct.

blue mountains hiking trip

blue mountains hiking trip

wildlife tours blue mountains

Our final stop of the day was at Lincoln’s Rock- Adam’s favourite spot which he had been hyping up all day. At Lincoln’s Rock, he showed us how to ‘safely’ take a picture hanging off the edge, with the most stunning backdrop imaginable. Not everyone was up for the dare, but both Nathan and I thought it was too good of an experience to miss out on.

blue mountains fun tour

best blue mountains tour

I was certain I was going to blow straight off the edge and although I was shaking uncontrollably, the view was the best ever and I was so proud of myself for once again stepping out of my comfort zone- something which has become common place for me now!

The tour was definitely one of the best days we have had in Australia so far. It was completely full-on, exhilarating, and exhausting, but so worth every second, every step and every penny.

If you are thinking about exploring the Blue Mountains- please do head onto Barefoot Down Under’s website– run by Adam himself and his partner. The company is just a year old but we couldn’t have asked for a better and more fulfilling experience. Adam’s knowledge of plants, indigenous animals, aboriginal culture and the history of the land, along with his natural Aussie humour, was unbeatable.

best blue mountains tour

**********

PUBLISHED BY SHAKIRASACKS

Shakira Sacks is an England-based lifestyle blog with a huge emphasis on worldwide travel and a heavy dose of fashion and beauty thrown into the mix. Many travel blogs show beautiful images of mesmerising landscapes and cultural experiences; this blog is more than that. To entice you into the deepest realms of wanderlust, Shakira Sacks will combine travel, beauty, fashion, food and a sprinkling of more serious lifestyle posts to reveal exactly what travelling can be like for modern women in her twenties.

Blue Mountains- Barefoot Down Under, New South Wales

Scenic World, Katoomba Blue Mountains

IF you have heard of the place called Scenic World while researching your Blue Mountains tour and are wondering what this place is all about then read on for a quick intro. I am not going to get in depth on the historical facts etc. just a brief overview of what you can do there.

Scenic World is located up in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains which is almost 2 hours drive from Sydney. Think of it as a mini theme park and when I say mini, I mean there are only 3 rides total at Scenic World!

Besides the rides, Scenic World also has a cafe and dining area where you can buy food, drinks and a big gift shop if you want to grab a few souvenirs. It can get very busy up in the Blue Mountains at Scenic World during Christmas and school holidays, with heaps of visitors and long queue’s so keep this in mind if going.

 

Here is a quick overview on the rides:

Scenic World in KatoombaScenic Railway

The Worlds Steepest passenger railway train with a steep incline and descending 310 meters down into the rainforest. It can be a good option if you want to hike down to the Katoomba Falls as you can ride the Railway back up to the top if you have had enough hiking for the day OR take the fun ride down to the bottom as they allow you to adjust your seat position up to 20′ if you want making it a more exciting ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scenic World Katoomba Blue MountainsScenic Skyway

This is probably my favourite as you are up 270 metres high taking in 360′ views of the Blue Mountains which is pretty amazing.  The ride is 720 metres long and you are in a glass carriage with a glass floor as well on a cable suspension taking you from the ‘East Station’ to the main park entrance. You can see views of the Jamison Valley, Katoomba Falls and the Three Sisters so bring your camera as it’s a scenic place for photos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cableway Blue MountainsScenic Cableway

The Worlds Steepest cable car journey in the Southern Hemisphere, you ride 510 metres down into the rainforest valley.  The views again are great as you can see the Three Sisters, Orphan Rock, Mt Solitary and Katoomba Falls on it.  Try to get on it first so you can be up front for the best views while heading down the mountain.

 

 

 

Scenic Walkway

Obviously not a ride but a very well constructed boardwalk in the Blue Mountains. This walkway spans 2.4 kilometres around lush rainforest to the Jamison Valley floor with various walking path options. The trees and bush act as a canopy for the path and you can usually spot native birds and wildlife on this track. One is the Lyre Bird, I haven’t been down yet without spotting a few.  You can also catch up on the history of the old coal miners from the area with replicas and signage around.

Cost:
Rides for all 3 are $39 for Adults which gives you an unlimited pass, or $19 for the one-way train if you want to do a bit of hiking.

Scenic Railway Blue MountainsKatoomba Scenic WorldSkyway Scenic World

To check them out online head to http://www.scenicworld.com.au/

(Scenic World is not offered on tour)

Some days we get to meet absolute legends on our tour to the Blue Mountains, although I am not talking about our guests this time. (Because we think they are all the greatest!) This time it is the random folklore Ukuleleists that we ran into while in the Blue Mountains.

After our last hoorah and stop up at Scenic World in Katoomba, we piled back in the bus and started our journey back to Sydney. Seeing as we made great time on our trip, I had one more place I wanted to show everyone that’s off the beaten track. Lets just say I call it my ‘Secret Spot’ as you get one of the best views of the Blue Mountains and it’s far from the popular tourist areas i.e. Echo Point.

Walking up to the spot we soon were met by 2 blokes just singing and jamming out on their Ukuleleis enjoying the beauty around us all. What Legends! Thanks for the tunes and for letting us capture this random but very cool moment that will be one to definitely remember. 🙂

 

 

It is not every day you come across a snake while on tour in the Blue Mountains. Listen, you might often get the odd one slither away in front of you while hiking in Wentworth Falls on a hot summers day but even that can be a rare occasion.

But on this particular day in the Blue Mountains our local tour guide was showing his guests the famous 3 Sisters rock formation at Echo Point, a popular destination where hundreds of international visitors flock to daily. He was just finishing up telling the dreamtime stories of the Blue Mountains to his group of backpackers when all of a sudden he saw something come at him from the corner of his eye!

It was outright frightful, scary and entertaining all at the same time….

 

With a variety of snake species up in the Blue Mountains including the eastern brown, copper head, red bellied black and yellow faced whip snake, we think it may have been a never before seen species in Australia called the line snake. I don’t know, ill leave it for you to decide.

What I can tell you is that there is never a dull moment with Barefoot Downunder and our adventure tour guides in the Blue Mountains! 🙂

Waradah

The Blue Mountains is Located just 90 minutes out of Sydney in the Blue Mountains at Echo Point, Katoomba, Waradah Aboriginal Centre is a great place for travellers and visitors to get an introduction to Australia’s Indigenous culture.

With an emphasis on sharing Indigenous culture, guests can enjoy a 25-minute production put on by professional local Aboriginals. It is a great introduction to learn about the culture of the Dharug and Gundungurra tribes through an informative and memorable performance that includes traditional dance and didgeridoo playing.

The centre also showcases beautiful authentic and original artwork and paintings and here one can also pick up a handmade authentic didgeridoo if they choose amongst other unique souvenirs.

Waradah Aboriginal Centre gives you a quick insight into the Indigenous Australian culture and a place that is definitely worth visiting while taking a trip or on tour to the Blue Mountains.