The Blue Mountains’ new Visitor Pay Smart Parking system is slapped with time restrictions and high hourly rates with rates as high as $3 for 15 minutes parking.


Since July 2023, Blue Mountains’ residents have seen ‘smart’ parking meters installed in busy town centres, picnic spots, lookouts, and popular trailheads across the Blue Mountains.

The Blue Mountains City Council introduced the parking system to fund the critically required renewal of infrastructure across the region, and modelling shows the system could generate up to $20 million per annum. The Blue Mountains, which attracts four million visitors a year, has suffered from five natural disasters since 2019 and maintenance of damaged natural attractions is ongoing.

There are avid hikers and business groups who understand the council’s good intentions to support the maintenance of the Blue Mountains infrastructure.

One hiker on Facebook said, ‘As a regular hiker in the mountains, I actually don’t have a problem with paid parking. Takes money to take care of these tracks; clearing fallen trees, rocks. Last year’s floods damaged a lot of trails. People leave rubbish behind that needs cleaning up’.

However, not everyone is in favour of the paid parking scheme.

Locals and visitors have expressed their disappointment in the system, with one business owner, Nick Schwarz, saying that ‘it is one of the worst ideas out of council ever’.


smart parking blue mountains

Photo thanks to Ask Roz Blue Mountains on Facebook

How much are we talking?

Parking can cost anywhere from $4-$6 per hour for town centres and $10-$12 per hour for key visitation sites. There’s also the option to purchase a $38 day pass through the PayStay phone application.

Paid parking systems have now been implemented in the following areas:

  • Blackheath town centre
  • Katoomba town centre
  • Leura town centre
  • Wentworth Falls town centre
  • Glenbrook town centre
  • Cahill’s and Boars Head Lookouts
  • Echo Point Precinct
  • Leura Cascades
  • Falls Rd adjacent to Wentworth Falls Lookout
  • Fletcher St and Valley Rd adjacent to Conservation Hut
  • Lincolns Rock
  • Gordon Falls Leura
  • Wentworth Falls Lake, Wentworth Falls
  • Blackheath Memorial Park, Blackheath
  • Narrow Neck Lookout, Katoomba
  • Katoomba Falls off-street parking areas, adjacent to Cliff View Lookout and Katoomba Cascades
  • Sublime Point, Leura
  • Knapsack Viaduct car park, Glenbrook

Paid parking areas are also restricted by time limits and fines apply to those who go over them. This means visitors will have to enjoy the scenic lookouts, walking trails, and swimming holes within the confines of the parking time limits in place.

In some cases, the parking time limit is shorter than the recommended time it takes to hike the nearby trail. For example, hikers at Echo Point will pay $20.57 for 2P parking and will be forced to return within two hours despite it often taking three hours to complete the walk.


The 15 Best Natural Wonders To Visit On A NSW Road Trip, Leah Furey

The Three Sisters at Echo Point | @mydreamadventure

Locals Fear Business Will Slow Down

A petition was created before the first parking meters were rolled out which currently has over 1400 signatures. Many locals believe that ‘the laid back atmosphere of our beloved Blue Mountains is under threat’, turning the entire region into one giant parking station.

Residents, shopkeepers, and employees are exempt from parking costs if they applied for a permit before the 1st of December 2023. However, all drivers, whether locals or visitors, still need to adhere to the timed parking restrictions throughout the city.

‘I agree paid parking in popular areas is necessary but I don’t agree with some of what they’ve done. Permit holders should be fully excepted 24/7 near homes and businesses’, said one local on Facebook. ‘ I’m not going to go and move my car every hour or two.’

A string of local business owners are worried that the high parking rates will deter visitors, ultimately affecting shopkeepers that rely on the high foot traffic of tourists, such as businesses around Wentworth Falls and Glenbrook.

‘Drive away the tourists and you drive away the dollar’, said one comment on social media.

Many also fear that visitors will choose to park on unmetered side streets, causing grief to residents, and avoiding town centres for shopping or food, as it becomes too stressful to time manage.


parking in blue mountains

Photo thanks to Ask Roz Blue Mountains on Facebook

Concerns With a Digital Payment System

Although smart parking is common across the globe, a number of people have raised concerns that the digital payment system could be an issue for people who don’t use online banking or for elderly visitors of neighbouring towns.

‘I’m worried about my elderly customers getting access to parking. 80-year-olds using an app to park is ridiculous’, said Mary Coin, a local bookshop owner.

Blue Mountains City Council will continue to refine the process

The council will consult with residents of the affected precincts regarding the new rollout to manage overflow parking. Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said that the region ‘doesn’t have many other options to raise revenue, given we are surrounded by a national park and have growth restrictions’. Mayor Greenhill assures residents that the council’s objectives have the best interest of local businesses at heart.

For more information on parking in the Blue Mountains, visit the Blue Mountains City Council website.


Feature image thanks to Destination NSW