The Blue Mountains form the western boundary of the greater Sydney area. It is part of the Great Dividing Range that extends down much of the east Coast of Australia.
The Blue Mountains National Park lies around 60 km from the Sydney city centre and is a very popular day trip, especially to the centre of the Blue Mountains around the villages of Katoomba, Leura and Wentworth Falls. The Greater Blue Mountains was added to the World Heritage List in 2000.
They are called the Blue Mountains because from Sydney, they look blue. They are covered in forests of eucalypts, commonly called gum trees, which emit a fine mist of eucalyptus oil from their leaves in the hot sun that refracts light and makes the haze look blue at a distance.
The Blue Mountains have been inhabited for several millennia by the Gundungurra people and the Darug people. There are estimated to be over 1000 known sites of Aboriginal rock art and carvings, with one of the more well known being the red hands cave and paintings believed to be painted up to 1600 years ago.
The Jamison Valley is where the most well-known attractions can be found with the Three Sisters, Echo Pont and Scenic World all close together near Katoomba. Nearby Leura is a quaint mountain village with many artistic outlets. Close by are Wentworth falls and several other amazing water falls.
A bit further west, is the narrowneck escarpment, offering spectacular views as it separates the Jamison Valley from the peaceful Megalong Valley. Historic Blackheath and Mount Victoria were very popular holiday and health retreats in the last century, and further west the Jenolan Caves are the largest in Australia and some of the oldest cave systems in the world.
The Grose Valley to the north showcases stunning mountain scenery, rugged rock formations, pristine eucalyptus forests, abundant wildlife, waterfalls, ravines, and many hiking trails and heritage tracks which make this a haven for nature lovers.
Ironically, the area does not contain mountains in the conventional sense, but is made up of deep sandstone plateaus rising up to 1,300 metres above sea level (4,300 ft) at the highest point.
The first official crossing of the Blue Mountains by European settlers was the expedition led by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth in 1813. Prior to this, there were 10 unsuccessful attempts and colonial governors feared that the impenetrable barrier would never be breached. Now it is one of the most popular escape routes by road or rail from Sydney.
The best way to learn more about the spectacular scenic Blue Mountains of Australia, is to experience them for yourself with one of our award winning Guided Blue Mountains Wildlife Day Tours. Our very knowledgable tour guides will use their vast experience to ensure you get the most from your Blue Mountains experience, including plenty of opportunities to take pictures so you can relive the memories over and over.
The Hunter Valley, 2 hours north of Sydney in New South Wales, is one of Australia's oldest and well known wine regions, dating back to the early 1800s. Known for varietals such as Semillon and Shiraz, it is home to numerous wineries, including world-renowned brands and family-run boutique operations. Most are located south of the Hunter River around the Pokolbin area and offer cellar door wine tastings and vineyard tours.
There are over 150 wineries producing a wide array of exceptional wines. Hunter Valley Semillon is distinctive and acknowledged as the best in the world. The four leading grape varieties of the region are Shiraz, Semillon, Chardonnay and Verdelho.
There are several geographical regions within the greater Hunter area - the Upper Hunter, Pokolbin in the centre, and Broke Fordwich to the South West.
The Pokolbin area is also known as the Lower Hunter Valley, and is one of the most popular for day trips form Sydney and Newcastle. It sits near to the towns of Cessnock and Branxton, and is home to long-established names like Drayton, Lindeman's, Tulloch, Lake's Folly and Tyrrell, as well as newer plantings from the likes of Brokenwood Wines, Don Francois, Allandale, Petersons and Bimbadgen.
The main town in the Upper Hunter Valley subregion is Muswellbrook. One of the driving forces behind the emergence of the Upper Hunter Valley in the 1960s was the viticulturalists at Penfolds who determined that the area was most suitable for white wine.
Some of the oldest vines in the Hunter Valley were planted in 1924 around the village of Fordwich, near Broke. The area mainly produces white varieties including Chardonnay, Semillon, and Verdelho, as well as some lighter red wines including Shiraz, Pinot noir and Merlot.
There are also great boutique breweries and distilleries, as well as organic wineries in the area, however it would be selling the Hunter Valley short not to mention some of the other great attractions of the area.
Food and wine always go together, and there are many amazing gastronomic delights waiting for you in the area. Fantastic local produce, great ambience, and beautiful settings make for an indulgent experience to really savour.
Golf is another great attraction for the area, which is blessed with an array of amazing courses, headlined by The Vintage Golf Club in Rothbury, a Greg Norman-designed championship course on the grounds of the luxury resort, Chateau Elan. Other popular choices are the Hunter Valley Golf & Country Club in Lovedale and the Cypress Lakes Golf Course in Pokolbin, next door to the Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort.
The Hunter Valley has something for everyone, and the best way to experience them for yourself with one of our award winning Guided Hunter Valley Wine Tours. Our very knowledgable tour guides will use their vast experience to ensure you get the most from journey to the Hunter Valley.