The Blue Mountains Adventure Company (BMAC) know a thing or two about their beloved Blueys. They know their way around them better than anyone for that matter. As prime sponsor for the Explorer Challenge, they share the Top 6 Things to Do when you come to this stunning part of the world. (And don’t forget, if you complete and submit a challenge, you stand a chance to win an epic custom canyon trip led by the BMAC team!)
The Blue Mountains is our backyard and we absolutely love exploring the region and sharing our favourite spots with like-minded adventurers. Here are a few of our top picks – including some of the activities we guide, of course 😉 – for you to file away for your next trip to the Blueys.
Spend a day out canyoning in the Blue Mountains and you’ll never see those iconic valley views the same way again!
Far beneath the golden cliffs and green gums you see from all the lookouts is a hidden world of waterholes and creeks weaving through dark, twisting chasms. Formed over millions of years, Blue Mountains slot canyons are a truly unique natural wonder and a real treasure for adventure seekers in New South Wales.
Canyoning in the Blue Mountains will call on your daring, endurance and sense of adventure, with a mix of bushwalking, scrambling, exciting water jumps and abseils, sometimes right through rushing waterfalls.
Rope in some friends who have the skills and gear (you’ll need a wetsuit, helmet and harness and descender at least), or book in with the professionals for your first canyoning experience.
2) Jenolan Caves
The underground wonderland of the Jenolan Caves is part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Listed Area, less than two hours from Sydney. The beautiful limestone stalagmites, stalactites and crystal formations of Jenolan have been attracting adventurers and tourists since 1866. Today the caves receive over 250,000 visitors every year – and 250,000 tourists can’t be wrong.
Here are some more numbers for you: there are eleven caves which are open to the public, surrounded by more than 40km of rarely accessed underground passages with 300 entrances. People are still exploring unknown reaches of the caves today.
If you’re feeling adventurous, the River Cave and Off Track Tours will take you into some of the more inaccessible, rarely visited caves. Alternatively you can take yourself on a self-guided tour and discover the ancient natural hallways yourself.
Every year thousands of tourists pile in and out of buses to see the famous Three Sisters at Echo Point. And it’s quite a view. But some of us prefer to see these amazing pinnacles from a slightly different perspective.
Only a few kilometers away huge cliffs beckon, and we listen. It only takes a day to abseil from the top of the valley all the way into the forest hundreds of meters below and it’s an awesome way to experience the most visited part of the Blue Mountains from a whole new angle.
So what’s abseiling? Abseiling (or rappelling in the U.S) is a way of descending a rope in a safe, controlled manner. It is used in climbing, caving, rescue, scientific field research and in the military. It’s also pretty fun, and a great way to get into an awesome position for some impressive hero shots of you hanging out high on one of the most beautiful cliffs around.
4) Secret Creek Sanctuary
At the risk of sounding sentimental, Secret Creek is a really special place. This charming restaurant-café and wildlife haven is set amongst Aussie bushland on the outskirts of Lithgow, just 90 minutes from Sydney.
This is a lovely, relaxing place to dine and unwind after some serious adventuring. Sit down to a homely pot of tea or sample some quality Aussie cuisine as you look out over the leafy 200 hectare property, home to breeding and conservation programs for vulnerable native animals like the pure-bred dingo, spotted-tailed quoll, brush-tailed rock-wallaby, swamp wallaby and emu.
Animals protected within the Secret Creek Sanctuary are threatened species native to the local area. A percentage of the cost of every meal goes towards conservation efforts at the sanctuary.
5) Megalong Valley
No trip to the Blue Mountains is truly complete without a jaunt down to the green, fertile Megalong Valley. Just south of Blackheath, the Megalong Valley is a short drive and a world away from the dramatic cliffs and old world charm of the high plateau.
More of a country town experience than a mountain one, the Megalong is the perfect place to slow down and relax. See the mountains from a whole different perspective, with the sandstone cliffs towering high above you.
There’s so much to be discovered in the Megalong – the horse-riding history of the region (recently featured in The Man from the Cox’s River movie – see it at Vic Flicks), trail rides, high tea and orchard visits. Top off your day by camping out under the stars at the Dunphys Camping area. If you don’t have your own gear you can rent it from the fine folk at Bear Rentals.
Almost everyone who visits the Blue Mountains plans to go bushwalking. And why wouldn’t you? It’s fun, relaxing, adventurous and best of all it’s free.
The big question is: which walk to choose?
Well, one of our favourites is the Grand Canyon, near Blackheath. It pretty much has it all. It starts down a sandstone staircase which takes you down into a rainforest of bright ferns, trickling creeks and impressive rock shelters. Then hop across bridges and stepping-stones as you make your way towards the Grand Canyon. You will walk along the top of the deep chasm, peering down into the dark chasm. There are a couple of peaceful waterholes where you can stop for a dip before the steep walk back to the top. The walk finishes at Evans Lookout with a stunning view of the Grose Valley.
The whole walk takes 3-4 hours (or more if you stop for lunch, photos, swims) and you can download a FREE map of the whole thing here.