It’s easy to remember the iconic Blue Mountains landmarks that draw tourists from all around the world. Natural wonders such as the Three Sisters, Wentworth Falls and Echo Point Lookout. But this World Heritage-listed destination just two hours out of Sydney is brimming with hidden camping spots offering unspoilt wilderness to explore at every turn.
The next time you’re getting off the grid, be sure to pack your tent and swag with food and drink and make a beeline for Blackheath, and Perrys Lookdown campground. A little further out of the main townships, you’ll find the perfect balance of solitude and relaxation perched on the western cliffs overlooking Grose Valley.
Here’s where to go and what to do.
Before escaping the city, pack the essentials: hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes at the minimum; layers for warmth if you plan on travelling in cooler months; binoculars for birdwatching; and a map. There’s no drinking water at the campground, so bring plenty of your own. There is also a strict no-fire rule, so you’ll need to pack your own camp stove.
Make your way onto the Great Western Highway. Once you’ve passed Katoomba and Medlow Bath, you’ll find Blackheath. Jump off the highway, turning right onto Hat Hill Road. After a couple kilometres of sealed road, you’ll follow the five-and-a-half kilometres of unsealed gravel roads to the end, where you’ll find Perrys Lookdown campground. Don’t worry, a 4WD isn’t required.
The camping here is free and there’s space for five tents. You don’t need to book ahead, but note there isn’t room for caravans.
The panoramic views over Grose Valley and the sandstone cliff faces of Mount Banks are stunning. But for the more adventurous, the campground is the entry point to the Blue Gum Forest walking track. Tip: take a moment to fill in the trip intention form with NSW National Parks, hire a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), and bring your GPS. Stay safe, kids.
The descent to the bottom of Grose Valley is challenging even for experienced bushwalkers. But getting into the thick of Blue Gum Forest is breathtaking, and a must-do for keen adventurers, photographers and bird-watchers. You’ll spot king parrots, rosellas and, if you keep an eye on the skies, wedge-tailed eagles. While only four kilometres return, it usually takes three to four hours to complete because of the steep climb.
For the unflinching campers who have a couple nights up their sleeve, hike while carrying your supplies and spend your second night nestled deep at the bottom of Grose Valley at Acacia Flat campground. Make the return journey to Perrys Lookdown after rewarding yourself with a good night’s sleep to the sounds of the bush.
If you’re looking for an easier walk, or a warm-up to the Blue Gum Forest hike, head one kilometre back up Hat Hill Road to the exit for Anvil Rock Walk. The climb is steep but only takes 15 minutes return, and the reward is sweeping views across the valley. Tip: make sure to check out the hidden gem that is Wind Eroded Cave, just 400 metres west. You’ll be engulfed in the cliff side, which has been naturally worn away over time by high winds blasting at its surface.
For those into mountain biking, hit up the 10-kilometre-return Burramoko Ridge cycle track off Ridgewell Road in Blackheath for a different view of the valley and the cliffs that surround it.
Whether you’re after peace and quiet, or action and adventure, a trip to these lesser-known parts of the Blue Mountains will stir the spirit. Returning home is hard, but now you’re in on a secret just two hours from home.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Wild Turkey.