Things to See and Things to Do in the Blue Mountains | New South Wales, Australia
Credit: Destination NSW
Sydney is by far the most visited city in Australia, known best for its Harbour and Opera House. But just two hours outside of the city is the Greater Blue Mountains Area. This natural wonder is truly a must-visit on your next trip to Sydney. There are so many things to do in the Blue Mountains that you could easily spend an entire trip trekking through it.
The Greater Blue Mountains Area is a largely untouched, mountainous forest landscape. The huge expanse covers more than two million acres just west of the hustle and bustle of Sydney. It was named a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its unique geological rock formations, forest and waterfalls. This ecological diversity provides a wide range of habitats for more than 400 different types of animals. Several species considered rare or under threat of extinction call the park home.
The name “Blue Mountains” is no misnomer. Legend has it that when the temperature rises, the essential oil from the eucalyptus forest evaporates and disperses in to the air. This causes sunlight to filter through the mist in the air and scatter blue light over the canopy and vista. This natural phenomenon casts a spectacular bath of blue-light over the region.
Credit: Masaru Kitano snaK Productions
Credit: Andrew Smith / Tourism Australia
Within the Greater Blue Mountains Area are seven official National Parks of New South Wales. These include Blue Mountains, Gardens of Stone and Nattai National Parks. Blue Mountains National Park is the most popular of all parks in the Blue Mountains Area. In fact, it is one of the most visited national parks in all New South Wales.
Visitors and local Aussies alike flock to Blue Mountains National Park for strenuous hiking, easy walking, rock climbing and more. Numerous viewing areas called “lookouts” are accessible to visitors. They offer up some of the most sought after and breathtaking views of the area’s natural expanse in the entire region.
Before you even enter the park’s trailhead you will be immediately blown away by the view from this lookout. From here, you’ll be able to gaze upon The Three Sisters. This three-towered rock formation is one of the most fascinating sites in the entire Blue Mountains Area.
The Three Sisters are viewable from several vantage points in the park. Eaglehawk Lookout tends to be less populated than sites like Echo Point, so you get a solemn ambiance like no other. Eaglehawk Lookout offers up some of the best views in the park and is one of the best things to do in the blue mountains.
Eaglehawk Lookout, Blue Mountains
Take one look at the massive expanse over Govetts Leap and you’ll say to yourself… Well, probably nothing actually because this is a view that will truly leave you speechless. As your eyes remain transfixed on the sheer size of the valley below, you’ll begin to see the details that make up this view of the World Heritage treasure. Look one direction and see the dancing spray of water falling 180m down a sheer-face cliff to the valley below. Look another direction and spot a yellow-tailed black cockatoo swooping down to the trees. Govetts Leap is one site that must be seen to be believed.
Credit: Susan Wright / Destination NSW
Check your fear of heights at the door before beginning this 3-mile walk. The National Pass treks through sheer Blue Mountains cliff-sides at dizzying heights. As soon as you begin this walk you are rewarded with a magnificent view from Jamison Lookout. It’s an instant payoff in a walking trail that only gets better from here. As you continue on you’ll be serenaded by the sounds of Wentworth Falls, a multi-tiered waterfall cascading down from Jamison Creek above.
Credit: Sue Wright / Tourism Australia
From here you’ll descend the Grand Stairway. The stairway was built by hand more than a century ago. In recent years, the National Pass has been retrofitted with modern safety features like handrails along some of the more difficult paths and sheer faces. But the Grand Stairway is still a a steep climb down, so be sure to watch your step along the way!
Arrive at one of the ultimate lookouts on the National Pass and you’ll come face to face with a narrow edge over a sheer cliff face. If your knees weren’t shaking before, prepare yourself for this grand view that feels like you’re at the edge of the world overlooking the valley below.
The summit of Mount Banks is the highest point in the park. You can see the peak of Mount Banks from nearly every spot in the park. Explore this peak up close for a view that truly overlooks all Blue Mountains National Park. Climbing the tallest mountain in this park luckily doesn’t involve any extra equipment or increased danger and the summit is accessible via footpath. Once you arrive at the top, fill your lungs with the clean, ozone-laden air the area provides (called a health tonic since the early 1800’s). Gaze out on a 360-degree panoramic view, unimpeded by any handrails or fencing.
This mountaintop is as natural as it gets and if you’re looking for one of the best views in the park, it doesn’t get any better.
Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens
Just on the outer edge of Blue Mountains National Park, the Botanic Gardens at Mt. Tomah is a great stop on the way back from the inner Blue Mountains Area. Established in 1972, the garden contains 69 acres of public grounds. An additional 320 acres of land was also set aside, solely dedicated to the conservation of trees and other plants. Walk the grounds and marvel at more than 40,000 native, rare and exotic plants that dot the landscape.
Stunning mountain views and vistas surround the walk through the gardens. You could easily spend an entire day trying to see it all. Get lost in the garden and see the beauty of meticulously cared for, colorful flora.
Credit: Destination NSW
While technically not inside Blue Mountains National Park, the Jenolan Caves just south-west of the Greater Blue Mountains Area is well worth the side-track to visit. Jenolan Caves is Australia’s largest underground, limestone cave network
tucked inside a valley of Kanangra-Boyd National Park. Self-guided or fully escorted tours of the cave network take you through a number of the sites caves, rock formations (including the majestic Grand Column) and subterranean rivers.
Visit the Blue Mountains
With so many things to do in the Blue Mountains, you’re never far away from having an amazing time.. As soon as you see the calming, blue-haze of the mountain range you’ll be in awe at the untouched natural world before you. Make a stop over in Blue Mountains National Park from nearby Sydney for a quick nature retreat. We have plenty of trips with stopovers in Sydney and free days to explore or let’s work together and plan the perfect trip for you.
BONUS TIP: Stop by Featherdale Wildlife Park on your way up to the Blue Mountains. There you can see some of Australia’s amazing wildlife up close. Take a photo with a koala, feed some kangaroos and see Australia’s amazing native birds!
Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney
Featherdale Wildlife Park, Sydney
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10 Amazing Things to Do in Tasmania
Sitting just south of the main continent, Tasmania is a microcosm of Australian life and culture in a landmass about one-tenth its size. Tasmania combines the rugged, natural landscapes of the mainland Outback, populous city-centers like Hobart, pristine coastal beaches and a storied history that lends to a culture that is distinctly Tasmanian. Take a look at some of these must-see places and things in our list of 10 amazing things to do in Tasmania.
Cradle Mountain National Park
Lake Dove and Cradle Mountain. Photo: Tourism Tasmania & Andrew McIntosh Ocean Photography
Start off with a venture in to one of Tasmania’s most renowned natural treasures. Cradle Mountain National Park is one of the most visited parks in Tasmania, which is no surprise when you first lay eyes on the mountainous expanse and wild landscape. The park combines rugged trail terrain with ancient rain forest, glacial lakes and some of Australia’s few sites of alpine vegetation.
Take a relaxing stroll around Dove Lake, about a 2-circuit nestled in a mountainous valley beneath Cradle Mountain itself. Or if you’d prefer more of a challenge, trek to the Summit for unprecedented views of the park’s vistas. This 6-hour return walk takes the road less traveled, straight up the steep side of the mountain.
While you trek through various hiking trails, you’ll want to be on the lookout for the deciduous-beech. Found only in Tasmania, this tree is best known for its brilliant color transition in the autumn months and in fact one of very few trees to lose its leaves in winter in Australia.
Established in the mid-1800’s as a penal settlement for prisoners and convicts, Port Arthur has a dark and storied history. Situated just on the south-east end of the Tasman Peninsula, the site now acts as an open-air museum to its troubled past. Most buildings have been maintained in their original state, as they would have been seen nearly two centuries ago.
Credit: Tourism Tasmania
The historical significance of Port Arthur earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Distinction and it continues to attract more than 300,000 visitors annually. Port Arthur reigns year after year as the number one tourist destination in all of Tasmania and is surely a can’t miss attraction.
Carve out at least a full day in your itinerary for exploring all that Port Arthur has to offer. You’ll want to take the guided tour to learn the most about Port Arthur’s history. There is so much packed in to Port Arthur it’s hard to appreciate it all without an expert giving you the inside scoop. Check out this full day tour that takes you from Hobart to Port Arthur, including a guided walking tour of the Historic Site and a cruise around the harbour.
Feeling spooky? For those looking for a scare, this tour tacks on a night time ghost tour. If the stories of Port Arthur seem grim by day, just wait until you walk the grounds at night and hear tales of its haunted history!
See a Tasmanian Devil
You didn’t think you came all the way to Tasmania to miss out on seeing it’s most famous animal, did you? See the Tasmanian devil in a habitat that is as natural as it gets at the Tasmanian Devil Unzoo. An “Unzoo” is an inside-out take on a traditional zoo where the devils roam free in their natural habitat, unencumbered by cages or fences. See how the devils would interact in the wild and witness the feeding frenzy that happens several times a day.
Credit: Tasmania Devil Unzoo
You’ll also get a chance to feed kangaroos and wallabies by hand, but don’t think this is your average petting zoo experience. Instead of putting your hand full of feed up to a hole in a chain link fence, you’ll get to experience these friendly foster-marsupials hop right up and eat from your hand.
Having fun and showing support for a good cause go hand in hand at the Unzoo as they work closely with the Tasmanian Devil Conservation Project to protect and proliferate this native endangered species. The Unzoo works to breed healthy devils that can be released in the wild to bring up the population of this dwindling native creature.
Tip: The Tasmanian Devil Unzoo and Port Arthur Historic site make a fantastic back-to-back, full-day excursion.
Garnering some new-found attention this year after being featured in the Oscar nominated movie “Lion”, Mt. Wellington is quickly rising to one of the top tourist destinations in Tasmania. The more than 4,000-foot mountain is impossible to miss. Its jagged summit imposes high above the city of Hobart that rests in the valley beneath. Wilderness that seems a world away is just minutes from the city.
Credit: Chris Crear / Tourism Tasmania
An easily accessible lookout atop Mt. Wellington allows sweeping panoramic views of Hobart and its surroundings. Check out Mt. Wellington’s incredible rock formations including the towering dolerite columns called the Organ Pipes. Along the 21-kilometer drive to the summit of Mt. Wellington keep an eye out for the diverse range of local plants, from rainforest-like to sub-alpine flora. In fact, the summit is regularly capped with snow during the winter months.
The overall Wellington Park area in which Mt. Wellington is located offers up a plethora of outdoor activities. Trail walking, rock climbing, mountain biking and more are available in this amazing mountain destination. See Mt. Wellington, Russell Falls (an amazing 3-tiered waterfall) and Bonorong Wildlife Park in one great nature tour.
Taste Local Wine
Nearly 200 wineries dot the landscape of Tasmania. Its temperate climate has put Tasmania on the global map for cool-weather wines like white, sparkling white and dessert wines. Luckily, most vineyards in Tasmania are located just a short distance from the cities like Hobart and Launceston, making them easily accessible even if you have only a short stay in Tasmania. Wine trails or wine routes combine several of the best of Tasmania’s wineries in a countryside wine tasting road trip.
Wine trails are the perfect way to sample the different region’s wines that make up Tasmania’s rich winery culture. Vineyards in Tasmania are lush and beautiful. Taste your way through some of Tasmania’s best vintages and see why this up-and-coming wine scene has finally arrived.
Visit the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)
This eclectic gem of a museum is an expansive, subterranean vault of art that ranges from ancient Egyptian mummies and relics to thought-provoking, contemporary art. Upon entering MONA, descend the seemingly endless staircase to the depths below where you begin your journey. MONA is privately funded by David Walsh, a professional gambler, businessman and art collector who built his fortune by using his educational background in mathematics and computer science to develop a system of gambling, placing bets on horse races and other sports.
Walsh’s eccentric professional history is reflected in the work shown at MONA, which he once described as a “subversive adult Disneyland”. He personally curates some of the most cutting edge international modern art pieces, displaying them alongside works from his own private collection.
Leave yourself a decent amount of time to check out MONA, as each visitor is provided with a digital tour guide that uses GPS to give information about each piece as you walk around. Commentary from the owner, the artist and interviews allow an in-depth, informative experience.
No trip to a museum is complete without a glass of wine to go with it. Moorilla is MONA’s own winery and vineyard. Every step of the small-batch wine making process is done in house for purely local Tasmanian wine. Combine your tour of MONA proper with a tour of Moorilla Winery. See the wine making process from start to finish, from the picking of local grapes, to bottling and aging and taste ten of Moorilla’s prestigious vintages.
Located in Freycinet National Park tucked away from main roads and highways, Wineglass Bay is a beautiful, secluded beach area that is a must-visit in Tasmania. Wineglass Bay is a hugely popular site, despite the 45-minute walk from the parking lot to the Lookout. Check out the bird’s eye perspective of the Bay and its unique, crescent-shaped beach, from which it derives its name, set against mountainous peaks.
The view is incredible, but you’ll want to take the time to trek down to the Bay itself. From the Lookout, walk down to the shore and you are rewarded for your efforts with the pristine turquoise water and white-sand shore that has given Wineglass Bay the distinction of one of the top-ten beaches in the world.
Credit: Daniel Tran / Tourism Tasmania
In the warmer months, take a dip in the crystal-clear water surrounded by an incredible mountainous backdrop. If it’s a little bit too cool for a swim, simply enjoy the serene coast and beach area. You may even have the beach to yourself as far fewer tourists make their way down in the colder months.
If you’re looking for a unique and distinctly Tassie shopping experience, look no further than Salamanca Market. More than 300 market stalls flood the Hobart waterfront every Saturday, selling food, local crafts, artisan jewelry, clothing, plants, flowers and more. Salamanca Market is a perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. Grab a cup of coffee and peruse the vendors selling their wares, see buskers playing music, chat to the locals and just enjoy the general atmosphere of this famed market.
Credit: Poon Wai Nang / Tourism Tasmania
Plenty of stalls offering breakfast and lunch options are around, so make an event of your morning or afternoon here and try out some local cuisine while you shop. A trip to Tasmania wouldn’t be the same without a stop at Salamanca Market which is considered one of the best and most popular cultural experiences in Tasmania.
Ferry to Bruny Island
Another striking example of Tasmania’s iconic landscape is Bruny Island. Technically two land masses, a narrow isthmus called “The Neck” separates North and South Bruny. Bruny Island is well known for its amazing geology and unique rock formations. Towering cliffs like “Monument” and “Breathing Rock” are some of the tallest natural cliff formations in the world. As you ferry out to Bruny, you’ll be dwarfed by these geological wonders that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Credit: LION Movie
Some of Tasmania’s best wildlife live and thrive in and around Bruny. Starting with the ferry ride over to the island, you may spot dolphins, whales, and other marine life that swim near Bruny. Once you’ve made landfall, the island itself is home to seals, albatross, eagles, and an array of wildlife so impressive it rivals national parks around the world.
After your amazing wildlife spotting excursion, you’ve probably worked up a bit of an appetite. Luckily, there is no better place to dine on local cuisine than Bruny Island. Try out local, fresh-caught seafood and cheese made from the local dairy in this combination wildlife spotting and foodie tour. Bonus tip – the tail end of this tour includes a visit to the Bruny Island House of Whisky where you can sample some of Tasmania’s finest single-malt whiskies.
See the Southern Lights
You’ve no doubt heard of the Northern Lights, but did you know the southern hemisphere has its own light show in the sky?
Credit: Dietmar Kahles / Tourism Tasmania
Best seen in the winter months, the Southern Lights are visible from basically all over Tasmania. All you need to do is wait until dark, make your way to a spot free of trees and tall mountains and look up. The Southern Lights aren’t as well-known as Aurora Borealis up north, but the light show is equally incredible. Trek out to locations with the least amount of light pollution like South Arm Peninsula, only 25 miles south east of Hobart, during the southern hemisphere’s winter months and you’re in for a spectacular astral showing.
Visit Beautiful Tasmania
Let us help you fall in love with Tasmania. With so much to see and so many things to do in Tasmania, planning it all out can be a job in itself – that’s where we come in. Our passion is spreading the beauty and culture of Australia to as many people as possible and it’s all we do; all day, every day. We can give you the ins and outs and ups and downs of Tasmania and all of Australia. Our travel experts can make your arrival at point A, B and C completely effortless. With a continent as massive as Australia (roughly the same size as the U.S. ) and the fact that all it takes to ruin a good vacation is a missed flight, ferry connection or shuttle, you don’t want to leave anything to chance. Create a trip with us and make memories that last a lifetime.
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