Two hours west of Sydney you’ll find the Blue Mountains, a World Heritage-listed wilderness area and home to the Three Sisters rock formation.
By Stephanie Williams
The soaring weathered sandstone cliffs of the Blue Mountains will make you feel small, especially when you consider they’ve been here for more than 50 million years. This rugged range to the west of Sydney is home to the much-loved Three Sisters, the towering rock formations that constantly change as the sun crosses the sky, casting beautiful shadows and creating a spectacular colour palette as the day goes on. The best views of the Three Sisters are from Echo Point Lookout but you can also head out hiking and abseiling to experience some truly memorable angles on these formations and you can visit the Three Sisters year round.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Three Sisters are at Echo Point in Katoomba, on the cliff edge overlooking the Blue Mountains National Park. It’s well signposted around Katoomba and there is a carpark on site. It’s an easy two hour drive or train trip from central Sydney to Katoomba. There are buses leaving Sydney daily, as well as various tour operators offering day trips in the mountains. A local public bus service in the Blue Mountains area can take you from Katoomba train station to Echo Point.
- Learn about the Aboriginal storytelling connected to the Three Sisters at Waradah Aboriginal Centre
- See the Three Sisters from a new angle, hiking or abseiling
- Stay the night nearby at Lilianfels Resort and Spa and take a short walk to see the Three Sisters at night
Blue Mountains highlights
TOP THINGS TO DO NEAR THE THREE SISTERS
Visit the Waradah Aboriginal Centre
The Three Sisters watch over the land of the traditional country of the Darug, Gundungurra, Wiradjuri and Dharwal Aboriginal people. According to one Aboriginal legend, the pillars were once three beautiful sisters named Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo who were turned into stone by a powerful tribal elder. The women had fallen in love with three brothers from another tribe, but were forbidden to marry under tribal law. The brothers decided to capture the three sisters, causing a major battle, and the elder turned the women into stone to protect them. He had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, but was killed himself. The sisters remained in their magnificent rock state as an eternal reminder of this battle. You can learn more about how the Three Sisters were formed at the Waradah Aboriginal Centre at Echo Point. Aboriginal dancers and musicians perform on the hour from 10am until 4pm, telling the story of the Three Sisters and an introduction to Australian Aboriginal culture. Wander through the gallery which features prominent Aboriginal artists or enjoy the pretty wildflower display and traditional artefacts.
Explore the walking tracks at Echo Point
Echo Point is also the gateway to many fascinating nature walks. Soak up the scenery, streams, waterfalls, forests, ravines and sheer cliffs on one of the 140 kilometres (87 miles) of heritage walking tracks throughout the region. Get closer to the Sisters on Three Sisters Walk, a quick one kilometre (0.62 mile) walk from the main lookout. If you’re feeling more energetic descend to the valley floor on the Giant Stairway, a trail of more than 800 steps that leads to the base of the Three Sisters. At the bottom, follow the Scenic Walkway, a meandering 2.4 kilometre (1.5 mile) boardwalk that will take you through ancient rainforest dating back to the time of the dinosaurs. If you don't feel like walking, you can ride to the bottom and back again on the thrilling and steep Scenic Railway, or glide between the cliff tops and gaze at the rainforest canopy through the glass floors of the Scenic Skyway or giant aerial cable cars of the Scenic Cableway.
See the Three Sisters from a new angle
While you can get a fantastic view of Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo from Echo Point, adventure seekers will love the chance to abseil down Malaita Point to see them from a whole new perspective. Blue Mountains Wild Adventures offer half and full day abseiling adventures to Malaita Point. You don’t have to be experienced to try abseiling here, but you do need to be comfortable with heights because you’ll travel up to an incredible 200 metres (656 feet) down the sandstone cliff walls in a series of pitches. Or if you’d like to head up rather than down, the Australian School of Mountaineering offer guided climbs up from the Jamison Valley floor, on their Sweet Dreams climb.
Experience the Three Sisters by night and in luxury
As dusk falls, the Three Sisters change their look yet again, this time all lit up by glittering floodlights. Check in to the lavish Lilianfels Resort and Spa and enjoy an indulgent high tea or spa treatment, then take the short 15 minute walk to see the Three Sisters after dark. Against the backdrop of the black night sky, the Three Sisters sparkle until 11pm each night. Head back to Lilianfels for dinner in the hatted Darley’s Restaurant, or Echoes Restaurant nearby.
Grab a bite to eat at The Lookout
Once you’ve taken in the spectacular views, linger over coffee, lunch or a drink at The Lookout. Try the Milkbar for casual coffee, Bar NSW which features only New South Wales wines and an outdoor beer garden, or Restaurant 1128 for casual dining overlooking the Jamison Valley. The Echo Point Visitor Information Centre is also nearby, for local tourism information and maps.
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