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