Not everyone is into beach holidays. Some of us need to walk and climb to feel fully rejuvenated, and for that we go to the Blue Mountains. In as little as an hour’s drive from Sydney (depending on where you’re headed), this world heritage-listed region and its endless terrain of eucalyptus forests, cliffs and waterfalls are a haven for adventurers. Here are five activities to try on your next trip.
After a million-dollar renovation in 2017, the Grand Canyon Track is looking sharp. A 6.3km loop that starts at Evan’s Lookout near Blackheath, this hike takes you deep down into a canyon and through valleys, creeks, waterfalls, rainforests and bushland. It’s a moderately challenging walk that officially takes around four to six hours to complete. You’ve been warned: once you descend into the canyon you’ll have to walk back up many, many stairs to get back out. Walking tracks in the Blue Mountains can be affected by closures: make sure to check the website and safety conditions before you head off.
Instead of rugging up inside when the sun goes down, head out into the night with Blue Mountains Stargazing: a local business that offers tours of the region's pristine night skies, free of light pollution. Astrophysicist Dimitri Douchin will lead a group out to Wentworth Falls lookout and teach you how to identify stars and patterns in the sky, the Milky Way and, depending on the time of year, the rings of Saturn and Jupiter. It’s a 90-minute tour and there are two times available: one at twilight and one two hours after sunset. Bring your warmest jacket.
Slow-paced adventurers should check out Happy Buddha: a homey retreat centre near Wentworth Falls that runs affordable getaways based around yoga, meditation, creativity and music. The popular two-night ‘inner joy’ retreat is more affordable than most (around $399 for two nights) and includes multiple yoga and meditation classes, a drumming session and incredible home-cooked meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The retreat centre has a pool and is next to a walking track to a hidden waterfall, which makes for a refreshing swim.
Abseiling into one of the Blue Mountains region’s many canyons is an experience you won’t forget. Some of them, like the Tiger Snake Canyon, are slots in the earth that are barely one metre wide. On a canyoning tour with High and Wild, you’ll learn to abseil and canyon safely in a group. One tour starts with a walk through Wollemi National Park, then continues with a couple of abseils into a canyon (one long, one short), a wade through ankle-deep water and a plentiful lunch among the ancient ferns. Then, get ready for the walk out. It’s a steep one-hour track up. If you like hiking, take it to the next level.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Destination New South Wales.