Sydney is a huge, sprawling city. Its only boundaries are physical: the ocean to the east, rivers to the north and south, and to the west, mountains. The Blue Mountains, to be specific. They’re part of the Great Dividing Range that run along the coast of much of the eastern seaboard of Australia, but they’re known as the Blue Mountains because as you approach them from the city, they rise up in misty grey-blue peaks.
It is World Heritage Listed with many national parks and significant landmarks, as well as being very important to Aboriginal heritage. The Gunundurra and Darug people occupied the land for millennia before European settlement, and their stories and sacred sites are integral to the landscape, most famously at the site of the Three Sisters – three strikingly large natural sandstone columns that tower above Jamison Valley.
When Sydney was colonised in the late 1700s, the mountains were believed impassable and therefore a deterrent to any convict who would attempt to run away. It is thought that several convicts and freed convicts may have made the difficult journey, but officially the first Europeans to cross the range were Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth, whose names are remembered in the mountains in towns and landmarks in the area.
The climate of the Blue Mountains is very different to that of Sydney, despite being so close by – summer is much shorter and less fierce, but winters are more like the UK: there is snowfall every year, and the days get colder and shorter for quite a long period of time, with 0 degrees a not uncommon reading on the thermometer.
These days, the Blue Mountains are a haven for artists, craftspeople, writers, artisans, families and retirees – people looking to get away from the hassles and noise of Sydney but still remain fairly close to the action (the Mountains are easily accessible by car and train). People going to visit will be impressed not only by the scenery and opportunities to experience the great outdoors, but also the independent shops, excellent food, art galleries, museums, antiques and collectibles.
A popular tourist destination for Sydneysiders and tourists alike, it’s a great place to hire a cottage to retreat to for a few days but it’s also the perfect daytrip. Anyone visiting Sydney should take some time to experience the Blue Mountains and all they have to offer.
Vivienne Egan writes for Now Health who provide international health insurance, should you be thinking of moving to Australia…