The Greater Blue Mountains Drive
The short discovery trails along this drive will take you to some of the best natural attractions in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. See Blue Mountains Botanic Garden at Mount Tomah, Grose Valley lookouts and walking tracks, Mount Wilson forests, lookouts and gardens.
Linked drives and discovery trails on Greater Blue Mountains Drive
The Greater Blue Mountains Drive includes 18 discovery trails that branch off the main route, each one taking you on a unique adventure. The common link is the network of national parks and conservation areas that make up the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area that stretches from the Upper Hunter, to Mudgee, Goulburn, the Southern Highlands and the Hawkesbury. Access from Sydney is easy via the Hawkesbury Valley, from Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains or Mount Annan Botanic Gardens near Campbelltown.
Sydney to Wentworth Falls: Drive west out of Sydney via the M4 Motorway, proceed through the pretty towns of Faulconbridge and Hazelbrook and continue to Wentworth Falls. Offering spectacular views over the Jamison Valley and excellent trails into the Blue Mountains National Park, Wentworth Falls is a great place to stop for a walk through the bush and some excellent photo opportunities before continuing on your way.
Wentworth Falls to Leura: Drive to lovely Leura and take some time to peruse the shops, galleries and craft stores on the charming tree-lined main street, and then stop for lunch in one of a number of gourmet cafes.
Leura to Katoomba: Next, it's just a short drive to neighbouring Katoomba with its diverse offerings including historic buildings, delicious restaurants, antiques stores and a wide range of local events and festivals. Start your Katoomba Tour at Echo Point to behold the incredible Three Sisters rock formation from the lookout, or get a different view from Scenic World's railway, walkway, skyway or cableway. Pay a visit to the John Wilson Art Gallery (open Thursday to Sunday) to discover the work of one of the country's best landscape oil painters, and be sure to catch a glimpse of the grand 19th century Carrington Hotel.
Katoomba to Blackheath: Back in the car, proceed about 15 minutes to Blackheath to explore its colonial cemetery, enjoy stunning views from Govetts Leap Lookout, walk along the Fairfax Heritage Track, or browse the village's antiques and bookshops.
Overnight: Return to Leura for the evening or stop in Blackheath or Katoomba to stay the night in one of countless accommodation options - from quaint B&Bs to luxury hotels.
Leura to Hartley Vale: Take the leisurely Bells Line of Road back to Sydney, and maybe try some of the 18 discovery trails to explore the wilderness further.
After breakfast in your accommodation or at a nearby cafe, drive about 40 minutes north to Hartley Vale. Here you'll find a quaint historic village, along with the remnants of early roads over the Blue Mountains, dating back to the early 19th Century - some of which have now been incorporated into walking tracks. Be sure to have a look at the 1879 Comet Inn - an old colonial pub which today operates as a guest house.
Hartley Vale to Mt Tomah: Continue to Mt Tomah through the heart of the Blue Mountains, passing the tiny town of Bell. Drive directly to the Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens, set on the summit of a basalt-capped mountain peak, and view over 5,000 species of cool climate plants. Recharge those batteries with lunch in the Gardens' Restaurant Tomah, before returning to the road.
Mt Tomah to Kurrajong: Drive to Bilpin and taste some of its famous apples, then to Kurrajong, stopping for a coffee or some goodies from Goodie Goodie Gum Drops lolly shop if the mood takes you.
Kurrajong to Sydney: From here it's an hour-long* drive back to Sydney. Take a deep breath as the mountain scenery is replaced by a backdrop of suburbia, and remember that with a charming getaway like this one at your doorstep, it's possible to escape as often as you like.
*All driving times are approximate.
Mountain Heritage Hotel, Katoomba, Blue Mountains. Image Chris Jones
Pearsons Lookout near Lithgow. Image Evolving Images
View from the top of the Kanangara Walls down into valleys and over surrounds, Blue Mountains National Park. Image Chris Jones
Native wildflowers at Mount Annan Botanic Gardens, near Campbelltown, Macarthur precinct
Picnic at 'Solitary' at Leura Cascades, Blue Mountains. Image Chris Jones
Avoid driving tired and reach your destination
When driving, always consider how tired you are - fatigue is one of the top three contributors to Australia's road toll.
Ensure you have had enough sleep before your trip and share the driving wherever possible. When driving on Australian roads take advantage of the many 'rest areas' available, regardless of whether it's a long-distance or short-distance trip.
Easily locate rest areas and plan your rest breaks for your next journey by visiting www.rms.nsw.gov.au