Blue Mountains – nature, hiking & waterfalls, near Sydney, Australia
A short trip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains by train
Travelling on my own, I just wanted to get an impression of the Blue Mountains and booked one night at a little hostel in Katoomba, which seemed to be a good starting point for a hiker without car. They don’t mind an early check in at No14 Hostel, which is ideal if you want to stay only for one or two nights. I took an early train around 7:30 am from Sydney, brought my breakfast in my tupperware in the train to save time, did a nice little meditation with headphones and watched the landscape change the further we left Sydney.
The Three Sisters and down the Big Staircase
The early check in was uncomplicated after the short walk from Katoomba train station, they even offered me some breakfast and welcomed me warmly at my hostel. Without asking, the receptionist gave me a little map (see route here) a told me the best hiking options for a short trip. So I left the hostel half an hour later and crossed Katoomba to get to the Three Sisters tourist office from where a few hiking paths start. The beautiful viewpoint is crowded by bus tourists and accessible for everyone. As soon as I went down the Big Staircase it got quieter, I kept climbing down the cliff towards the forest. I like how they created these special paths with the stairs, it gives you the possibility to experience the rocks like a climber.
The forest towards Leura
At the end of the stairs I reached the forest and went left in direction of the Leura Cascades, from here on I was pretty much on my own and met only three other people. Still in meditative mood from the meditation in the morning in the train, I walked on my own and soaked in the whole Blue Mountain atmosphere – the forest air, the sounds of small springs and the birds, the green of the plants and the softness of the ground. I didn’t even really need the map, there is a few signs along the path and several resting places.
Up the waterfall stairs
After maybe half an hour, I reached a small waterfall and took my first break. Not used to wearing shoes anymore here in Australia, I took off my shoes and enjoyed the ice cold water. The whole forest seemed to have abundant water, I saw already several streams and small springs here in the Blue Mountains. Normally I like to walk with music or podcasts in my ears, but that day I felt really connected with nature and didn’t want to miss any sounds. From the waterfall on the path continued up the stairs next to the little falling stream, I decided to walk barefoot for a while and slowly climbed up on the side of the many little cascades.
Higher and higher along the stream I made sure I followed the path towards Leura Cascades (Amphitheatre Walking Track) and slowly I met more people again. Around midday I reached the huge Leura Cascades after many middle and small sized waterfalls, beautiful rocks, fern forest and viewing points. The place at the huge cascade is wonderful, the streams is widely washing over the tall rock.. I rested and ate my lunch, around me people who posed for pictures. By then I had climbed quite a lot of stairs and only walked about 4-5 kms, but already felt my legs. I wasn’t sure which path to take next and just walked higher towards Prince Henry Cliff Walk, I think I took one or two wrong turns and had to walk 2 kms more, my legs started hurting.. But then I found this place where you can see the cascade from the top!
Prince Henry Cliff Walk
Finally I found the path that would bring me back to the Three Sisters on top of the cliff and it was a quite easy and enjoyable hike back with several viewpoints overlooking the valley. After all the stairs I was happy to just enjoy this easy track and again met only a few people on the way. I reached the busy area around the Three Sisters after about an hour in the afternoon. Now I had one problem: I really wanted to wait for the sunset here, but that would be a wait of more than 3 hours. Walking to the hostel and back wasn’t an option because my legs felt really heavy at that point. So I decided to lie on the grass near the parking, listening to some podcasts and doing some light yoga and meditation. The last 1,5 hours before sunset were suddenly quite cold, but in the end it was worth the wait – what a sunset over the forest and blue mountains!
The next day I just went for a little walk towards the right of the cliffs, my legs still hurt.. Afterwards I enjoyed a small shopping tour in Katoomba, this little town is really a nice place to hang out: Theere are a good number of small OP shops, little creative stores and outdoor shops, even Aldi and Target. The streetart street is also definitly worth a look! I also saw a few nice cafés and restaurants, but I went back to my little hostel to chill at the (fake) fireplace and eat some bananabread by donation! Leaving my luggage there after check out was super easy by the way and they still let me use the common area.
I could have visited probably 100 places in the Blue Mountains but this short trip was perfect to get out of the city for two days and go for this extraordinary beautiful hike! I felt ready to move on and spend the next ten days in the next town in a meditation retreat at Dhamma Bhumi Vipassana Centre.1