Australia’s Blue Mountains

Australia's Blue Mountains, with its famous landmark the Three Sisters, have long been a favoriate tourist destination and weekend getaway for Sydneysiders.
Blue Mountains Australia
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Australia has some incredible landscapes, but its mountains don’t hold a candle to those on other continents. At only 7,310 feet, Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko, is less than half the height of the next continental highest peak (Western Europe’s Mont Blanc at 15,771 feet). And it’s positively squat compared Asia’s Mount Everest (29,035 feet) or even Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet).

The Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney, have long been a favoriate tourist destination and weekend getaway for Sydneysiders (it’s often cooler in the mountains, so a good place to escape the summer heat). They’re part of a long string of mountain ranges running almost the entire east coast of Australia known as the Great Dividing Range.

The most famous landmark in the Blue Mountains is a trio of rocky spires known as the Three Sisters. Standing next to Katoomba and clearly seen from Echo Point, they look out over a scenic landscape of thick eucalyptus forest (or, as Australian’s would call it, the bush), dramatic gorges, and rolling mountain ridges. Mountain ranges in the distance often look blue thanks to haze (and thanks to a phenomenon known to scientists as Rayleigh scattering), the effect is amplified here by the dense gum tree forests with their blue-green leaves.

Interestingly, finding a way through the mountains was a very difficult challenge for early white settlers of Sydney. Conventional exploring wisdom at the time held that to find a way through mountains you followed the waterways. But that doesn’t work here because so many dead-end into cliffs and waterfalls–instead, they had to learn to follow the ridges. But once a way was found through, usually credited (probably erroneously) to Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson, and William Charles Wentworth, the vast plains of western New South Wales could be exploited for farming (at the expense of the native wildlife, flora, and indigenous peoples, of course).

Photos of the Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains Three Sisters
This famous rock formation is known as the Three Sisters. There’s a clear view of it from Echo Point in Katoomba.

Blue Mountains with Gum Trees

Blue Mountains Three Sisters Echo Point
The Echo Point lookout at Katoomba.

Blue Mountains George Phillips Lookout

Blue Mountains Three Sisters Panorama
A panoramic shot with the Three Sisters at left.

Map

Where to Next?



Travel Advice for Australia

You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Australia (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.

The British Government offers its own country-specific travel advice for Australia here.

Health & Vaccinations

The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Australia here.

Guidebooks for Australia

If you're looking for a guidebook to make the most of your visit, these are some of the most popular ones currently for Australia. Some are available in both paper and e-book formats.

Lonely Planet Australia 21 (Travel Guide)
  • Bain, Andrew (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Fodor's Essential Australia (Full-color Travel Guide)
107 Reviews
Fodor's Essential Australia (Full-color Travel Guide)
  • Fodor's Travel Guides (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
DK Eyewitness Australia (Travel Guide)
92 Reviews
DK Eyewitness Australia (Travel Guide)
  • DK Eyewitness (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
Frommer's Australia (Complete Guides)
35 Reviews
Frommer's Australia (Complete Guides)
  • Mylne, Lee (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Travel Insurance For Your Trip to Australia

I never travel without travel insurance, and I've run into several situations where I've had to make claims. I consider it essential.

But shopping for travel insurance can be a pain and confusing. Thankfully, there are some travel insurance comparison sites that show you a wide range of plans, make it easy to compare coverage, and can save you money at the same time. And the coverage can be much better tailored to your specific needs than the checkbox offering at travel booking sites or through your credit card.

These are some good places to shop for travel insurance for your next trip to Australia :

Hopefully, you won't need it, but if something goes wrong, you'll sure be glad you have it!

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