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The 3-Day Backpackers Guide to the Blue Mountains

3-Day Blue Mountains Experience

If you're looking to explore and like a bit of adventure, and enjoy getting off the usual tourist trail, then the Explorer Bus is your key to see the most of the Blue Mountains.

With the recent inclusion of an afternoon shuttle service to Wentworth Falls you can now reach all the walks you want with the Explorer Bus.

So with the total freedom to go where you want, when you want. With the luxury to spend longer at the places you want to, and skip the ones you don't. And with a bus every 30 minutes, you can plan your day to suit yourself.

Time:

Highlights:

Best pass:

2 - 3 days

Bushwalks, Waterfalls, Aboriginal Culture & History, Get Off The Beaten Track.

Explorer Pass (valid for 3 days)

Stops:

DAY 1 - Let's Go Exploring!

Staying a couple of nights means you can make the most of your Blue Mountains adventure. Trust us you wont regret it.

“Our trip to the Blue Mountains was amazing. We truly wished we knew how spectacular it really was, we would have planned to stay overnight to hike another day. Many thanks for an amazing experience”– Trip Advisor.

Arrive in Katoomba and collect your great value Explorer Pass as you get off the train. Our shop is at the top of the train station stairs. Don't forget to tell our friendly team to validate your ticket for your 3-day stay.

TIP: If you’re staying at one of the hostels, hotels or B&Bs on our route, leave your bags at our shop and start your adventure right away. We'll take care of getting your luggage to your accommodation!

Katoomba Cascades Bushwalk & Cliff Tops Tour

Drop your bags off and climb aboard the Explorer Bus, grabbing top-deck seats for the best views.

Take the Explorer to Katoomba Cascades (Stop 7) to enjoy a scenic but relatively easy walk from here to Stop 8.

The walk takes in the cascades and includes excellent views of the Jamison Valley & Three Sisters from Reid's Plateau. Then descend partway down the cliff on well constructed & maintained tracks - past Witches Leap - and onto the Round Walk. The highlight of this track is Juliet's Balcony. From there it is steep stairs back up the cliff top and around to Stop No.8 opposite the Caravan Park.

Next, to further whet your appetite for your Blue Mountains adventure, ride the bus on the Cliff Top Tour of lookouts around to Narrow Neck Lookout. Hop off for photos of the Landslide sandstone cliffs, Narrow Neck Escarpment and the wilderness of the Jamison Valley, including Mt Solitary and the Ruined Castle. To the west you can see beyond the Megalong Valley to the Great Dividing Range of mountains.

If you have any questions about the history or geography of the region be sure to ask your driver. He's the expert and only too happy to share his knowledge with you.

Honeymoon Lookout to Echo Point Bushwalk

Hop off at Honeymoon Lookout (Stop 15) for this easy-going bushwalk – a perfect way to experience the Blue Mountains wilderness. The views are great, the tall eucalyptus forest is full of wildlife, and you get to arrive at the Three Sisters by the “path less travelled”.

Climb down to stand on the first of the Three Sisters, then follow the main track to Echo Point. Spend as long as you like here – but be sure to keep your eye on the time and check your timetable for when the next bus comes around.

Waradah Aboriginal Centre

If you want to learn about and experience some of the pre-European Aboriginal culture, then Waradah Aboriginal Centre (Stop 14) is the place to go. They have a wide selection of Aboriginal Art sourced from around the country, and the dance performances are lively and full of interesting information.

Lyrebird Dell & Pool of Siloam Bushwalk, then Leura Village

From Stop 20 you can make your way to the start of this walk, which is filled with Aboriginal history and sparkling waterfalls.

A highlight of this walk is the sandstone overhang that contains Aboriginal carvings. It is thought that the cave was used as a shelter by the local Aboriginal tribes.

You can then continue on the the Pool of Siloam, and when the weather is warm cool off under the waterfall there. Or just enjoy the tranquility of this secluded area of the Australian bush.

From the Pool you can either head back to Gordon Falls (Stop 18) or return the way you came to Stop 20.

By now you will probably want to be putting your feet up and enjoying a refreshing drink. We suggest you ride the Explorer Bus and stop in at Leura Village and check out one of Australia's most beautiful village streets, complete with cherry trees and an unusual park that runs right down the middle of the road. This little shopping precinct is famous for its bespoke specialty items and homewares.

One place that's definitely worth checking out here is Megalong Books, a brilliantly stocked independent bookshop.

There are also some good cafes which are worth stopping in for a quick bite to eat.

We also recommend Bygone Beautys Treasured Teapot Museum with the largest privately owned teapot collection in the world.

There is a supermarket if you need to collect some supplies for tomorrow's adventures.

DAY 2
Bushwalk: Three Sisters, Giant Stairway, Furber Steps

There’s no better way to explore the Blue Mountains than on foot, and this bushwalk is one of the best – it's got excitement, amazing scenery, lots of wildlife and a variety of ecosystems to explore. And you don't have to be an experienced bushwalker to do it.

Hop on the bus and enjoy the ride around the Cliffs Tops & Valleys circuit and through to Echo Point (Stop 14).

Walk down to the Three Sisters, and take the Giant Stairway – all 998 steps of it – down to the bottom of the cliffs. Turn right and follow the path that snakes around the base of the Three Sisters, leading through dry sclerophyll forest to the bridge over Kedumba Creek. Take a good long look at the huge drop of Katoomba Falls – because you're about to climb to the top of them.

Now, if you're feeling the stairs may be too much for you, there is the option of riding the Scenic Railway back up the cliffs to meet the Explorer Bus at Scenic World.

Note that fares apply and will be charged when you reach the top.

For those that enjoy a good walk and new challenges, then the climb out of the valley via the Furber Steps gives you awesome views of Katoomba Falls and across to the Three Sisters.

At the top, if you have planned well, take a well earned rest and walk out to Reid's Lookout and take advantage of the views as you enjoy a picnic.

Alternative spots for a picnic are close by if you wish to stretch out on some grass, you can do so next to Katoomba Falls Cafe or across the road there is a large public park with some shady trees, taps with drinking water, and toilet facilities.

Outside the Caravan Park is Explorer Bus Stop 11, so once you have rested and feasted, hop on the Explorer Bus for the next 'not to be missed' event on your itinerary - Leura Cascades!

Leura Cascades

As you rest your legs on the ride past Echo Point, keep looking out the right side windows as superb views open up over the Kedumba Valley.

Hop off at Leura Cascades, and walk down the beautiful track beside the creek. Chill out by the waterfalls for as long as you want, take lots of pictures, and look out for big water dragon lizards. The grassy picnic area near the car park is also good spot to have a little siesta.

Gordon Falls Lookout to Olympian Rock Bushwalk

Not finished yet! After the cascades we have an easy stroll for you along the cliff tops visiting lookouts along the way. So ride the Explorer Bus around to Gordon Falls (Stop 18). From the Gordon Falls Lookout follow the signs towards to Olympian Rock with its fantastic views of the Jamison Valley and its rippling forest ridges, you can see the Eastern Face of the Three Sisters, also Mount Solitary, the long finger of Sublime Point, and a distant slice of Lake Burragorang. When you get to Olympian Rock, climb up the stairs to Stop 19. The Explorer Bus will be along soon to ferry you back to the bright lights of Katoomba.

Blue Mountains Cultural Centre

What tale will your driver tell as you cruise back along the highway to Katoomba? Will it be the one about a group of bushwalkers who fought to save a patch of forest from being cut down, and ended up creating the Blue Mountains National Park? Or maybe the one about William Cox and his team of 30 convicts, who hand-built the first road all the way across the Blue Mountains in just six months way back in 1815?

Hop off at Stop 1 in Katoomba Street and walk across the road to the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. The fascinating World Heritage Exhibition here has the full lowdown on both of those stories and many more – it's a great place to learn about the nature and history of the Blue Mountains.

Afterwards, check out the Art Gallery or hang out in the city library, where you can connect to free wi-fi and look out of the big windows at a great view over Katoomba and the wilderness beyond.

Katoomba Street - Food and Pubs

Katoomba has plenty of food options, so if you take some time to stroll along the main street you will find something that will reward you for your hard work out in the Australian bush today, and reload you for tomorrow's challenges!

Celebrate your day out with a drink in one of Katoomba's pubs. They're friendly places, and it's not hard to get into conversation with a local. Check out the history inside The Carrington Hotel, have a drink by the fire in the lounge.

Live music can be found at various venues around Katoomba. Try out The Station Bar or Hotel Gearin. For more of a nightclub scene, check out the Baroque Room, opposite the station above the Harp Bar.

DAY 3
Wentworth Falls and Valley of the Waters and National Pass Bushwalk

Get up early and catch the 9:00am Explorer Bus from Stop 1. This is your gateway to one of the most exciting bushwalks in Australia.

This 9:00am circuit picks up from accommodation houses and shuttles passengers to Scenic World then heads out to Leura to do the same. It stops at Fairmont Resort which is your jump off point for a remarkable walking experience.

Ask the driver to point you towards the start of the track, then head down into Lilian’s Glen and cross the narrow bridge over Empress Canyon.

Descend through the stunning waterfalls of the Valley of the Waters, snake your way across the cliffs on the National Pass, and emerge at the Middle Falls of Wentworth Falls, where the water pools into shallow waterholes before continuing its crashing descent to the valley floor. Then we have the climb up the incredibly hand-carved rock stairs of the Grand Stairway.

At the top of the main falls you'll find a smaller waterfall that tumbles into a pool with a wide sandy beach – a great place to eat your lunch and enjoy the view down the Jamison Valley.

From here follow the signs back to the Jamison Carpark, via Princess Rock Lookout (for great shots of Wentworth Falls and the Grand Stairway - show your friends where you climbed up), and Explorer Bus Stop No.30. There is a midday service (check your guidebook timetable) for you early bushwalkers that got the best of the tracks. This will take you back to Leura Mall to join up with the main Explorer Bus circuit.

Leura Village

Another chance to explore Leura Village, or grab a bite to eat.

At the top of the Mall is the station, and just behind this is the Alexandra Hotel. This is one of the best surviving traditional railway pubs in New South Wales, and a brilliant place to watch trains go past with a drink in your hand. The Explorer Bus can pick you up right outside the door (Stop 27).

(If you decide to stay at the Alexandra Hotel for food, your Pass gets you a 15% discount in the restaurant.)

Or if you want to travel onto Katoomba then stay at Stop 21 for the next Explorer Bus, which will be along shortly.

Katoomba Street Art Walk

Leave Leura by mid afternoon and hop on the Explorer Bus into Katoomba. Ride down to Stop 2 at the bottom of Katoomba Street, and walk round the corner to check out the Katoomba Street Art Walk.

From here, you can take a short walk into the suburbs of Katoomba to discover a fascinating piece of Blue Mountains history.

We recommend a stroll down to 'The Gully' to experience some of the local Katoomba History. It is a moving and rewarding experience.

The Gully

The Gully is about a 10-minute walk downhill, to the west of Katoomba town centre.

This was home to the Katoomba Aboriginal community from the middle of the 1800’s until the 1950’s – when a group of local businessmen lobbied council to build a race track. As the inhabitants (including non-Aboriginals) had no ‘title’ to the land they were forcibly removed, and until recently nothing was left of it but the stories held by a few surviving elders.

Then in 2002 the land was handed back to the Aboriginal community. The Gully is now an important landmark for local Aboriginal people, and you can learn more about their story through the signs that stand along the walkways. You can also see remnants of the track now slowly being reclaimed by the bush.

What a great trip! You've seen the best scenery in the Blue Mountains, done some awesome bushwalks, and visited places most tourists don't reach.

But there's still lots more to see in this vast and fascinating wilderness – so why not stay a bit longer and explore more?

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