Blue Mountains Panorama

World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park

The Blue Mountains National Park is in New South Wales, Australia, approximately 70 km West of Sydney, and covers 267,954 hectares. Despite the name ‘mountains’, the area is an uplifted sandstone plateau, dissected by a number of larger rivers and gorges up to 760 metres deep. The highest point of the range is 1,190 metres above sea level.

The Greater Blue Mountains Area was unanimously listed as a World Heritage Area by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) on 29 November 2000. The entire area totals roughly 10,000 square kilometres, and consists of seven national park areas and a conservation reserve.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance.

The reason why this site was chosen to be included on the World Heritage list is quoted below from the proceedings of the 24th session in Cairns, Australia:
“Criteria (ii) and (iv): Australia’s eucalypt vegetation is worthy of recognition as of outstanding universal value, because of its adaptability and evolution in post-Gondwana isolation. The site contains a wide and balanced representation of eucalypt habitats from wet and dry sclerophyll, mallee heathlands, as well as localised swamps, wetlands, and grassland. 90 eucalypti tax (13% of the global total) and representation of all four groups of eucalypts occur. There is also a high level of endemism with 114 endemic taxa found in the area as well as 120 nationally rare and threatened plant tax. The site hosts several evolutionary relic species (Wollemia, Microstrobos, Acrophyllum) which have persisted in highly restricted micro sites.”

Following European settlement of the Sydney area, the area was initially named the Carmarthen and Lansdowne Hills by Arthur Phillip in 1788. The Carmarthen Hills were in the north of the region and the Lansdowne Hills were in the south. The name Blue Mountains, however, was later widely adopted and is derived from the blue tinge the range takes on when viewed from a distance. The tinge is caused when incoming ultraviolet radiation is scattered by particles within the atmosphere creating a blue-greyish colour to any distant objects, including mountains and clouds. It is widely, but incorrectly, believed that this is created by light reflecting off vapours from eucalypt leaves.

The Three Sisters is a famous rock formation in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. They are close to the town of Katoomba and are one of the Blue Mountains’ most famous sights, towering above the Jamison Valley. Their names are Meehni (922 m), Wimlah (918 m), and Gunnedoo (906 m).

The Sisters were formed by erosion. The soft sandstone of the Blue Mountains is easily eroded over time by wind, rain and rivers, and the cliffs surrounding the Jamison Valley are being slowly broken up. Formations like the Three Sisters are created when water seeps into small cracks in the rock, gradually enlarging them over time to form large indentations. Eventually, the Sisters will be eroded away completely.

A panoramic view of the Three Sisters and Mount Solitary in the Jamison Valley.

Some 4K video images of the changing face of the majestic Blue Mountains.

Activity Tours Australia operates day tours from Sydney to the Blue Mountains for bushwalking and sightseeing in the area around Wentworth Falls, Leura, the Three Sisters at Katoomba, and further West. We hope to see you soon!