A long time bucket list item for me has been to go to the Blue Mountains National Park and visit the iconic Three Sisters a stunning rock formation. I was admittedly enchanted with the unique formations and the gorgeous backdrop of mountain and trees I had seen in all the photos which gives you the impression of being alone in the stunning remote and rugged Blue Mountains National Park.
The reality of the situation is, that the Three Sisters are on display at the end of a car park and a whole 10 meters from a tour bus drop-off. The viewing platform can easily be obscured from view by simply aiming your camera in the correct direction and you can get any panoramic view you desire. I can’t say the experience is particularly fulfilling but there is good news.
Luckily, the viewing platform for the Three Sisters (named Echo Point) is connected to several trails. There is an information office about them located there at Echo Point. Walking less than one kilometer allows you to leave the majority of the congestion behind. The notable exception being the endpoint of a gondola ride, where you will once again have to fight your way past noisy tourist trying to get their perfect picture! Once you’ve reached that point it’s not difficult to appreciate the beauty of the cliffs, trails, and waterfalls. The gorgeous backdrop of mountains and trees is a reality with that impression of being (mostly) alone.
The town of Katoomba is a great base to use as you explore different aspects of the Blue Mountains National Park. We walked from our accommodation in town to Echo Point, and took public transport to and from various other starting and stopping points of the trails such as the Conservation Hut.
There are several trails that all connect to each other making it great to customize your adventure based on age, fitness level, and enjoyment of hiking, how much time you have, etc. We did parts of each of the following:
- Charles Darwin Trail
- Cliff Top Circuit
- Prince Henry Cliff Walk
- Katoomba Falls
- Federal Pass
- Empress falls
- National Pass from the Conservation Hut to Wentworth falls
- and much more!
If we weren’t avid hikers (or simply not fit at the time) we still could have reached the highlights because there are car parks and cut through trails.
As you’re walking about there are several turn off and loops that I haven’t named explicitly here but we hiked them. Everything is fairly well signed with difficulty posted. We accidentally ended up on a track that was labeled hard it was not well maintained (so we turned back). We later learned that had we continued on that track there would have been parts to climb up sheer cliffs face (not what I signed up for) so make sure you have an idea where you’re going and will end up before you take off. When I go back I will purchase a high quality map of the trails in the area so I don’t accidentally have an experience like this again.
Safety: People get lost and go missing while out bush walking in Blue Mountains National Park. At the time we visited, the police station had Personal Locator Beacons (PLB) available free of charge. I don’t know much about them because we opted for the alternative provided by our accommodation, a sheet with our names and where we were going and when we planned to be back. If we didn’t turn up, then they could alert the authorities. To learn more about safety considerations for hiking in the Blue Mountains National Park and visit the New South Wales Police Website here.
Pictures: Whatever your photography style you’ll want to be sure to bring your camera and a tripod. As mentioned, Echo Point is a fabulous place to take a panoramic photo and, I’ve noted before, that for this trip I had a high end point-and-shoot camera. For my trip around the Blue Mountains taking photos of Waterfalls I procured a small flexible tripod so I could leave the shutter open for longer amounts of time (allowing for a blurred/flowing water effect).
Shoes: Be sure to wear good durable hiking boots. I was wearing my good tread high quality (broken in) hiking boots the whole time. There are parts of the trail in more congested areas that are paved and gentle, but otherwise you’re out near cliff face, going up or down track trails, and it can get very slippery (even if there hasn’t been rain recently you are near waterfalls often). As it was, I lost my balance slipping down some track stairs (wood and dirt). I was very lucky my only injury was minor.