Lisa Owen

A road trip away from the centre of bustling Sydney lies beautiful natural landscapes filled with majestic waterfalls, soaring cliffs over endless landscapes of green, and yawning caves.

Sydney National Park

The Blue Mountains and Kanangra-Boyd national parks are only a few hours drive west of Sydney and can be done as a day trip or better yet, a long weekend to soak it all in. So grab your hiking shoes, get in the car and head out exploring. Here’s a guide of how to get to the parks and some of the trails you can head out on for breathtaking views.

 

Blue Mountains National Park

The Blue Mountains National Park is located about a 90 minute drive from Sydney heading west. The national park has dozens of walks to choose from so it’s worth more than a day trip if you can. The towns of Katoomba, Leura, Lithgow and Mt Victoria are among some of the starting points for walking trails throughout the region - and also places to look for accommodation options.

One of the most scenic hikes I’ve ever been on is the Valley of the Waters trail. This path connects with the famous National Pass trail and takes you past Empress Falls, Wentworth Falls, under cliff faces, and through spectacular scenery at every turn.

Blue Mountains waterfall

You can start the Valley of the Waters Trail from the Conservation Hut on Fletcher Street near Wentworth Falls (follow the signs for Wentworth Falls). As you head down into the valley, you’ll pass waterfall after waterfall. Every spot is beautiful and if there’s been recent rain, the roar of the waterfalls can be heard on most parts of the walk.

National park steps  

The National Pass trail in the Blue Mountains can only be described as fascinating. Built into the side of a cliff, the trail was made in the early 1900s using hand tools and dynamite. The trail is never boring. There’s lots of stepping stones, you’ll have to duck to get under cliff overhangs and then you’ll get glimpses of the beautiful Wentworth Falls before reaching the base of the falls.

National park rock wall  

You’ll be challenged by the steep Grand Stairway up to the top of Wentworth Falls, but amazed that it was carved out of rock in the early 1900s. But there are plenty of places to catch your breath and enjoy the views from cliff sides. 

For more information on trails in the Blue Mountains National Park, check out the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service page at www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/blue-mountains-national-park

 

Kanangra-Boyd National Park 

The Kanangra-Boyd National Park is on the western side of the Blue Mountains and is near the town of Oberon. On the way there from Sydney, you’ll pass by the famous Jenolan Caves. Entry to the caves is by guided tour only and prices start from $38 NZD. Cave tours are run on a timetable so it’s best to plan ahead, decide which cave you want to see and check the timetable so you don’t miss out or have to wait hours for the next one. The timetable is available on the website atwww.jenolancaves.org.au. If you don’t want to enter the caves, there are a number of walks around Jenolan Caves such as the Blue Lake Loop.

Past the caves, follow the signs to Kanangra Walls. From Sydney, this trip will take about three hours.The last 29km to the carpark for Kanangra Walls is a dirt road but a very good one. Even in drizzly rain, a 2WD should be able to easily make it through, but there might be a few potholes and slippery mud patches if there’s been recent rain so just take it slow and steady.

Kanangra Boyd National Park 

There are three scenic spots to choose from at Kanangra Walls – and you can do them all in a few hours. There’s the lookout point only 10 minutes from the carpark which provides beautiful views along the cliffs and down into the valley. 

Then there’s the walk to Kanangra Falls. It’s marked as hard but only because there’s lots of stairs. Anyone with reasonable fitness should get down and back up in about 30-40 minutes. Kanangra Falls is a nice spot and on a sunny, warm day would be a possible swimming hole.

Kanangra Boyd National Park

Once back up from the falls, you can do the plateau walk. This is a lovely and mostly flat walk through the rainforest. On the way up to the plateau, don’t miss the short detour to the Dance Floor Cave. This cave was once on a stock route and became a meeting place. Its name comes from the dance platform that was built into the cave in the late 1800s. 

From the plateau, you’ll get sweeping views of the trees below - or maybe just fog - but it really is beautiful either way as you stand on the soaring cliffs.

Kanangra Boyd National Park Plateau 

There’s a large camp ground only a couple of kilometres from the lookout and near the Boyd River if you want to stay the night. Kanangra Walls is a great spot for stargazing on a clear night.

 

Things You Should Know:

  • Weather in the mountains can change quickly so make sure you bring some warm and wet weather gear along with you.
  • If you’re planning on spending a couple of hours hiking, be prepared with water, snacks and proper shoes.
  • There’s plenty of accommodation options in the Blue Mountains. Check out Katoomba, Leura and Lithgow. You can camp at Kanangra-Boyd National Park.
  • There’s trails galore in the Blue Mountains and one day is not near enough time but will give you a good taster. Other than hiking, other activities in the Blue Mountains include the Three Sisters Lookout and the Scenic Railway - said to be the steepest passenger railway in the world.
  • Exploration of Jenolan Caves is by guided tour only and prices start from $38. Cave tours are run on a timetable so it’s best to plan ahead, decide which cave you want to see and check the timetable so you don’t miss out or have to wait hours for the next one. The timetable is available on the website atwww.jenolancaves.org.au

 

Lisa Owen is a pint-sized Australian following her dreams to travel to as many places as she can, and loves to share her photography, travel hacks, hiking adventures, and food discoveries along the way. At last count, she has travelled to more than 40 countries in between working in public relations and discovering hidden gems in Australia's great outdoors. Instagram: @_thelittleadventurer Facebook: The Little Adventurer Australia  

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.