The Best Natural Places to Visit in Sydney for First-timers

The Blue Mountains was named for a reason - Do you know why the Blue Mountains are blue?
The Blue Mountains were named for a reason – Do you know why the Blue Mountains are blue?

Sydney is always one of my favorite cities. Cutting-edge infrastructure, advanced development, beautiful harbor, amazing beaches, friendly people, and nice weather. It’s constantly at the top of any list of the most livable cities in the world. Above it all, I love Sydney the most of how the city and nature intertwined and embrace each other nicely – the city is surrounded by green and the country made a great effort to preserve and protect the natural environment. Furthermore, the country has a great collection of marsupial animals (animals that are mostly endemic to Australasia), and oh, how adorable are the Koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and Tasmanian devils – and much more. So, there was a day we embraced nature by visiting the Blue Mountains and the Featherdale Wildlife Park which allow us to appreciate the incredible fauna and flora in the city’s suburbs.

We took a boutique luxury tour with Blue Diamond and departed from Sydney early in the morning; Passed Richmond, we enjoyed an intimate breakfast with freshly baked Scones with jam & tea overlooking the Blue Mountain National Park. After that, we visited the Scenic World (A combination of fun rides and scenic trails in the Blue Mountains) and secret viewpoints with breathtaking views of the Jamison Valley. We went to the wildlife park after lunch and had so much fun with the Koalas and baby wallabies!

Something about the Blue Mountains…

The Blue Mountains is a mountain range located in New South Wales, Australia, and it’s a popular attraction for tourists in Sydney. Although to me, the scenery is not the most jaw-dropping sight as compared with other famous scenic sites in the world, the mountain has its own specialty and a coal mining history that hold dear to the native Australian. Today, the Blue Mountain is part of the Greater Blue Mountains Area which covers 10,300 sq. km of a forested landscape on a sandstone plateau. Visiting spots include the Cahill’s Lookout to the iconic Three Sisters (and do you know in fact there were seven?), Empress Falls, Fuber Steps, National Pass walking track, Golden Stairs, and more.

Why “Three sisters”? It was because the legend has it, the native Australian believed that three sisters, ‘Meehni’, ‘Wimlah’ and ‘Gunnedoo’ lived in the Jamison Valley, were three beautiful girls and they fell in love with three brothers from the Napean tribe. Sadly, they cannot get married due to tribal law and it became a battle. To protect the three sisters, a witch doctor from the Katoomba tribe used a spell and turned the three sisters into stones to avoid detection. Unfortunately, the witch doctor was killed in the war and so no one can break the spell and the three girls remained like a rock forever.

Kings Tableland is located beside lake Burragorang. The Blue Mountains were lifted up from a plateau a few million years ago. Streams once flowing seawards along a gradual gradient, now plunged dramatically over the edge of the mountains. The sandstone cliffs of the Kings Tableland from the eastern side of the Jamison Valley are also known as “Muggadah” to the aboriginal people and Megalong canyon. Check out the Wentworth Falls along the way, and it is also a perfect spot for stargazing at night.

Chief town Katoomba is a good starting point for a day tour in the Blue Mountains. There’s basically where the Scenic World is, and that’s what we did. Before boarding the fun rides we drove to Cahill’s Lookout, a little bit earlier than the crowd came in, and had a great overview of the Jamison Valley. There, it was the best time in the morning to view the “blue haze”.

Now, why… the Blue Mountains are blue?

Well, it was not exactly that the trees are blue in the Blue Mountains. Yet, when we were on the lookout, it really seemed that the entire valley was covered with a blue tinge!

I did just look it up online, but try not to be so “scientific” (which I am not… remotely possible to), I am sticking with my guide’s “layman” version: It was because the Valley has an abundance of eucalyptus (a tree mainly native to Australia and it’s the major food source of Koalas), which emits large quantities of Terpenoid (a hydrocarbon), caused an optical phenomenon (umm, like a rainbow) when sunlight hits the valley. Only in this case lights with shorter wavelengths are reflected (you know it, the blue), and that’s why the Blue Mountains look “blue-greyish” from a distance. By the way – the scientist called the phenomenon Mie scattering.

The Three Sisters… had four more sisters! The Three Sisters is an iconic landmark of the Blue Mountains. It’s a unique eroded ridge formation and in fact, there were once seven pagodas of stone jutting out into Jamison Valley at Echo Point! The Seven Sisters has profound spiritual significance for Aboriginal people – it was sacred to them and so currently it is not allowed to climb the rocks as it would seriously damage the soil.

Scenic World Blue Mountains Australia

Call it “touristy” but the Scenic World is a way for tourists to experience the Blue Mountains from above and below. We chose the “Unlimited Discovery Pass” which allowed us to assess four “ways” the Scenic World has to offer: Scenic Skyway, Railway, Walkway, and Cable Way.

Starting with the Scenic Skyway, a glass floor cable car that glides through the forest while the Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, and Jamison Valley are in view. The length of the skyway is about 720 meters and 270 meters above ancient ravines, it offers an open and unobstructed view of the entire area – the Skyway stations also connect to the lookouts along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, and more!

The steepest passenger railway in the world!

Next, the Scenic Railway is the steepest passenger railway in the world! With a 52-degree incline, we were literally lying down on our seats as it slid down the cliffs, and we could see the view of the valley through the glass roof of the carriages. The railway that we were riding was a redesigned version for tourists, yet the railway was first used in the late 19th century. It was part of the transport system of the Katoomba Coal Mine in 1880 of which coal was transported in skips carrying half a ton of coal from the mine to the mountains via the incline railway.

Followed by the 2.4-kilometer Scenic Walkway, a leisure hiking trail through the trees in the Jurassic Rainforest where we had some encounters with the birds and squirrels under the shade of eucalyptus (Mountain Blue Gum) which is over 100 years old. They are easily recognizable with the white and smooth shaft and they sprouted son after the coal mine was abandoned in 1895. We could see large sandstone rocks that fell from the cliffs approximately 10,000 years ago, too!

The end of the walkway connected with the Scenic Cableway, which brought us back to the Scenic World entrance and we head to the lookout for the Three Sisters!

Featherdale Wildlife Park

For those who are fans of cute animals, I think you would love the park. It was on the way from the Blue Mountains back to the city center, and we had an intimate experience with a lot of Marsupials and barnyard animals without a crowd. They have a lot of Koalas (which was so fun just looking at them), we took pictures with koalas and feed the baby Wallabies with hay in a cone! I learn a lot about the behavior of habits of these animals and I enjoyed the park very much!

Some of the most popular marsupials:

  • koalas are native to Australia (precisely, Eastern Australia), and of course, the most iconic animal in the country. They are the few animals with fingerprints and eat mainly eucalyptus leaves, which are very low in nutrients, causing them to sleep 16-18 hours a day to conserve energy.
    While they can be seen in zoos around the world, you can only see them in the country. Today, the San Diego Zoo has the largest colony of koalas outside of Australia, with 20 living in the Zoo and more than 30 on loan to other zoos in the US and Europe. But of course, the best place to interact with this adorable creature is in Queensland, where you can hug and hold them!
  • kangaroos are basically another icon of Australia and you can see it as the logo of Qantas. What’s the difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby? First and foremost, there is a huge size difference.
    There are 63 types of kangaroos and the most common types are red kangaroos, grey kangaroos, tree-kangaroos, wallaroo, and pademelons. The kangaroos can leap can a speed of a maximum of 70 kilometers per hour!
  • wallabies are generally smaller than kangaroos as mentioned above. Besides, you can distinguish them by looking at their hind legs. The knees and ankles of kangaroos are set wide apart for them to run fast on flat ground. The legs of wallabies are compact so that they can move in dense forest areas with great agility.
  • opossums are the only marsupials found north of Mexico. While there is only an O more between opossums and possums – they are not the same animals. One distinctive feature of the animal is that they like to “play dead” in front of predators, which is an involuntary response triggered by stress.
  • wombats look big and sweet, and they are the second-largest type of marsupials. One thing that you may not notice about wombats, is that their poops are literally in a cube shape. This is to prevent them from rolling off their marked territory. Talking about poops, the wombat’s way of defense is diving down their burrows and blocking off the entrance with their butts. Their butts mainly consist of cartilage that will protect them from scratches and bites.
  • Tasmanian devils are loud, active, and equipped with a powerful bite that can crush bones. They are also the largest carnivorous marsupial, and out of all these, you will see them always running in circles – sadly, this is said that the reason for doing so is due to stress, anxiety, and lack of mental stimulation from being caged.

The thylacine is extinct, and some other lesser-known marsupials include the dunnarts, potoroos, and the cuscus.


The Katoomba Falls from the Scenic Skyway and the voice of Koalas…

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