May 11 19
Less than half an hour’s drive away from Sydney you can reach the evocative Blue Mountains region of New South Wales – a million hectares of national park cramming in rainforests, sandstone cliffs and gorges, crashing waterfalls and wild bushland famous for its eucalyptus trees. This UNESCO World Heritage site sees more than three million visitors each year, pretty much all of them flocking here to enjoy the scenery – but many also hoping to embark on some outdoor adventures and take in the region’s rich Aboriginal heritage.
Adventures in the Mountains
All backpackers will need travel insurance in Australia, but if you’re planning to get stuck into some outdoor activities during your trip you will need to check that your policy covers you for this.
The Blue Mountains are made up of a variety of landscapes which provide opportunities for a whole host of adventure sports – ranging from abseiling and canyoning to horse riding and climbing – although it is bushwalking that is the most popular of all. Bush walks let you take in the incredible vistas at your own pace along the way, exploring rainforests and passing waterfalls, the blue haze of the eucalyptus trees, Aboriginal sites and deep canyons. There are dozens of bushwalks to choose from, from a quick half an hour stroll through to walks lasting five or more hours. The various tracks cater for all levels of fitness and experience, including easy and fully accessible trails for those with pushchairs or wheelchairs, through to medium and hard walks for the more adventurous – and some for experienced walkers only, which require a high level of fitness and navigational skill. A fantastic resource for those planning hikes in the Blue Mountains is Wildwalks, a free online bushwalking and camping guide for New South Wales.
From the legend of the Three Sisters to ancient art and ceremonial sites, the Blue Mountains are home to Aboriginal heritage dating back more than 22,000 years.
The most famous site is the dramatic Three Sisters, a set of three rocky outcrops created by erosion, towering above the Jamison Valley; they are shrouded in Aboriginal legend and are visited and photographed by millions of visitors every year. The local sandstone encouraged a large number of Aboriginal rock carvings in the area, too, and you can see hand stencils in Red Hands Cave near Glenbrook, protected from the worst of the elements for thousands of years.
The best way to get the most out of your trip is to hire a local bushwalking guide with knowledge of the sacred sites, so they can take you on a tour and tell you the ancient legends that surround each one.
Preparing for Your Trip
If you’re planning on a backpacker trip in Australia, it’s worth looking into specialist travel insurance that will offer you adequate cover, such as the new Backpackers Insurance from InsureandGo.
Once you’re there, you’ll find many trails venture high up into the mountains – so research routes well before you set off, keep away from cliff edges, and stick to the tracks. A good supply of drinking water, a hat, and sun protection cream are all essentials for your day pack, and it’s also worth taking waterproofs for longer hikes because weather changes can be swift and dramatic.
Start slideshow with these images