Blue Mountains, Three Sisters, and a Giant Staircase

The Three Sisters rock formations near Katoomba in the Blue Mountains

Standing on the edge of the cliff at Echo Point on a crisp, clear but chilly spring morning the valley opened up in front of me. Below the dark green of the forest floor rose up to met the rich, orange colour sandstone steep cliff tops and the in the distance the distinguishing blueish haze as the forest, sky and cliff top plateaus intermingled that give the Blue Mountains their name. 

The contrast of the orangey cliff face stands out against the sea of green of the valley floor and the blueish haze of the flat topped mountain plateau in the distance. This slate coloured haze that gives the UNESCO listed Blue Mountains their name comes from a fine mist of oil exuded by a dense canpoy of huge eucalyptus gums that grow across the steep and daunting valley eroded by thousands of years into chiseled sandstone outcrops that are over 1100 meters tall at the highest peak.

Looking out over the distinctive blueish haze of The Blue Mountains

Only 2 hours from Sydney but the mountain air felt cool and fresh and the sound of the birdsong amplified by the valley below. To the left of Echo Point lookout, towering over the Jamison valley stand the three sisters, rock formations that stand at over 3000 ft above sea level created by the erosion of the soft sandstone of the Blue Mountains by wind, rain and water over thousands of years and have special significance to the Gundungurra aboriginal tribe who feature the three sisters is legends and stories of the dreamtime. 

The Three Sisters feature in Aboriginal dream time legends

Following the cliff top walk winds through the gumtrees and rock and cliff faces at the top of the plateau and give views down the steep cliffs into the valley below. Winding down the Furber Steps the foliage changes into a temperature rainforest and ferns shielded by the protection of the valley between the rocky cliffs. The canopy gets thicker as we climb deeper into the valley and the sunlight shines through in shards, dappled by the rainforest canopy and feels a world away from the crowds at Echo Point and the small town of Katoomba above us.

Water makes rainbows in the sunlight over Katoomba Cascade

The steps wind down past beautifully trickling Katoomba cascade and past Witches Leap where you can just about make out a haggard face in the wet rock and further down still until the spectacular Katoomba falls cascades above. 

Beautiful Katoomba Falls

The streams of water at the top are just delicate wisps of water where the wind turns the water into a fine, rainbow coloured mist. The water runs down over many glistening mossy outcrops and exposes orange and purpley coloured cliff face until it continues falling ever further into the valley below. 

The UNESCO listed Blue Mountains were first discovered by Europeans by Wentworth, Blaxland and Lawson in 1813, coal was discovered in the valleys and now walking tracks for every ability criss cross the mountains and valleys from the small, mountain towns that surround them. Near to Katoomba Falls is Scenic World which makes the valley easily accessible via a modern glass bottomed cable car, scenic walkboards and an 1880s railway from the coal mining times that now boasts the steepest railway incline (52 degrees) in the world.

The coal train has been turned into an incredibly steep tourist train

But to really appreciate the view from the plateau and the 3 sisters the tracks winds through the forest to the Giant Staircase – 900 unrelentingly steep steps upward lead back to Echo Point.

Stopping to catch a breath gave gorgeous views as I climbed above the rainforest canopy and up onto the orangey rocks finally ending on a bridgeway between the 3 sisters and once again enjoying the ethereal view looking down at the rainforest I had explored and out over the blueish haze of the Blue Mountains valley.

The view from Echo Point over the UNESCO listed Blue Mountains

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