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Charles Darwin walk

Blue Mountains National Park

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Learn more about why the Blue Mountains is special

Charles Darwin walk is in Blue Mountains National Park. Here are just some of the reasons why this park is special:

A diversity of rare or threatened species

Black cockatoos. Photo: K Stepnell

The diversity of environments across Blue Mountains National Park create habitats for wide range of native plants and animals, including many rare or threatened species. There are rare and ancient plants in its forests, and isolated animal populations tucked away in its deep gorges. Over 1000 species of flowering plants occur in the park, including the waratah, the floral emblem of NSW. Blue Mountains National Park also protects the habitat of 41 threatened animal species including the sooty owl, glossy black cockatoo, bush stone curlew, superb parrot, yellow-bellied glider and booroolong frog. Some of these threatened species are endemic to the Blue Mountains, including the Blue Mountains water skink.

  • Blue Gum Forest Blue Gum Forest is a fine, historic example of closed forest, situated in Grose Valley in Blue Mountains National Park. Get to it by walking track from Perrys lookdown or Pierces Pass.
  • Blue Mountains 5-day walk Join Life’s an adventure on a magnificent 5-day self-guided tour of Blue Mountains National Park. You'll see the iconic Three Sisters, and ride the thrilling Scenic Railway to Ruined Castle.
  • Blue Mountains 7-day walk Leave the noisy city behind on this 7-day self-guided walk of the Blue Mountains. Departing from Mount Victoria, you'll journey past breathtaking waterfalls, sandstone cliffs and eucalyptus forests.
  • Blue Mountains adventure and hike Be taken into the heart of the Blue Mountains for a big day of hiking and exploring on this full day tour. Pass impressive lookouts and waterfalls before visiting the iconic Three Sisters near Katoomb...
  • Grand Canyon track Setting out from Evans lookout near Blackheath in the Blue Mountains, be met with a series of waterfalls, creeks and spectacular views along the challenging Grand Canyon track.
  • International student tour: Blue Mountains Immerse yourself in the majestic environment of Blue Mountains National Park, a special World Heritage-listed site on the doorstep of Sydney.
  • International student tour: Grand Canyon Experience this magnificent rainforest environment in the Blue Mountains National Park. Descend into a special slot canyon, past creeks and waterfalls, and learn about local wildlife along the way.
  • WilderQuest Bug hunt adventure Are you keen to learn all about bugs these school holidays? Join in the WilderQuest fun in the Blue Mountains area and explore the many types of bugs living right under your feet!
  • WilderQuest Sticks and stones These school holidays come along for some WilderQuest fun and discover your creative and adventurous side. There'll be some nature-based games led by our NPWS rangers in Blue Mountains National Park.
  • WilderQuest WildThings Come on a WilderQuest WildThings excursion for Stage 1 students, focusing on science and technology. Investigate the living world in Blue Mountains National Park, home to the world famous Blue Gum For...
  • WilderQuest WildTracker Come on a WilderQuest WildTracker school excursion for Stage 2 students, focusing on science and technology. Students will carry out investigations and explore the living world in Blue Mountains Natio...
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A walker's paradise

National Pass Walk, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Craig Marshall Copyright:NSW Government

The Blue Mountains boasts one of the most complex track systems of any national park in Australia. Dating from as early as 1825, many of the constructed tracks have national, state and regional significance and several are named to commemorate significant periods or events in Australia's history. The National Pass is one of the Blue Mountains iconic walking tracks. Constructed in 1906-1907, the track was built with shovels, crowbars and dynamite. In 2002 the track underwent major restoration works that included helicopters depositing sandstone blocks along the trail and heritage stonemasons perching on cliff faces to set sandstone inserts into steps eroded over the years by weather and walkers. It's an inspiring walk, with fantastic views of the Jamison Valley and beautiful waterfalls at either end.

  • Conservation Hut Conservation Hut at Wentworth Falls is a great spot for a bite to eat. Enjoy a view of the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park from the café’s balcony.
  • Echo Point lookout (Three Sisters) Take a day trip to Echo Point lookout in Katoomba for stunning views of the valley and the iconic Three Sisters.
  • Greater Blue Mountains drive Greater Blue Mountains Drive takes in the iconic scenery of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Explore Glenbrook, Wentworth Falls and Katoomba and beyond.

Ancient connections

Red Hands Cave, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Nick Cubbin

Blue Mountains National Park is part of the traditional land of the Gundungurra, Darkinjung, Darug and Wiradjuri peoples, who have been here since time began, living off the sea and the land. The Aboriginal sites in Blue Mountains National Park are important to Aboriginal people today; they are the physical evidence of a link to their ancestors. As you walk through this area, take some time to think about Aboriginal people and their strong attachment to this ancient landscape and all it contains. Some sites within the park, such as Red Hands Cave, are marked and other sites are not, so please take care when you're exploring the park.

  • International student tour: Living country, living culture Come and explore the rich, innovative and sustainable culture of Australia’s First People. Watch a hands-on presentation to learn about traditional and contemporary Aboriginal culture.
  • Living country, living culture - Aboriginal discovery Living country, living culture is a Stage 2 (Years 3-4) school excursion in Blue Mountains National Park, focusing on HSIE. Understand and appreciate traditional and contemporary Aboriginal culture wi...
  • Living Country, Living Culture: Aboriginal Discovery Living Country, Living Culture is a Stage 1 (Years 1-2) school excursion in Blue Mountains National Park, focusing on HSIE. Students will explore and appreciate traditional and contemporary Aboriginal...
  • Red Hands Cave Red Hands Cave in Blue Mountains National Park is one of the best showcases of Aboriginal rock art in the area. The walk starts at Euroka campground or Glenbrook carpark.
  • Red Hands Cave walking track - Blue Mountains National Park Red Hands Cave walking track, in Blue Mountains National Park, offers impressive Aboriginal stencil art with picnicking and birdwatching, near Glenbrook.
  • Three Sisters Walk Three Sisters Walk, in Katoomba, offers some of the most iconic views in Blue Mountains National Park, and takes you up close to the famous Three Sisters.
  • WilderQuest Tree painting Express yourself through art these school holidays and join in the WilderQuest fun of tree painting at Blue Mountains National Park.
  • WilderQuest WildThings Come on a WilderQuest WildThings excursion for Stage 1 students, focusing on science and technology. Investigate the living world in Blue Mountains National Park, home to the world famous Blue Gum For...
  • WilderQuest WildTracker Come on a WilderQuest WildTracker school excursion for Stage 2 students, focusing on science and technology. Students will carry out investigations and explore the living world in Blue Mountains Natio...
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Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area

 Narrow Neck trail, Blue Mountains National Park. Photo: Steve Alton

It is truly amazing to think that a city the size of Sydney has the extraordinary one million hectare Blue Mountains just a couple of hours away. It is part of a World Heritage - listed area of amazing values - geographic, botanic and cultural with six Aboriginal groups having connection to the country of the area. 

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The forests of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area have been described as a natural laboratory for the evolution of eucalypts; more than 90 different eucalypt species are found here, some 13 per cent of all eucalypt species in the world. They grow in a great variety of communities, from tall closed forests, through open forests and woodlands, to the stunted mallee shrublands on the plateaus. Try the overnight hike to Blue Gum Forest where you can camp beneath the stately tall trees with their smooth white-blue-grey bark.

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Plants and animals you may see

Animals

  •  Superb lyrebird, Minnamurra Rainforest, Budderoo National Park. Photo: David Finnegan

    Superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae)

    With a complex mimicking call and an elaborate courtship dance to match, the superb lyrebird is one of the most spectacular Australian animals. A bird watching must-see, the superb lyrebird can be found in rainforests and wet woodlands across eastern NSW and Victoria.

  • Satin bowerbird. Photo: Ken Stepnell

    Satin bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)

    With vibrant blue-violet eyes and curious antics, the satin bowerbird is a favourite for bird watching and easy to spot as it forages for food in open forest. Relatively common across eastern Australia, in NSW they’re found in coastal rainforests and adjacent woodlands and mountain ranges.

Plants

  • Smooth-barked apple. Photo: Jaime Plaza

    Smooth-barked apple (Angophora costata)

    Smooth-barked apple gums, also known as Sydney red gum or rusty gum trees, are Australian native plants found along the NSW coast, and in the Sydney basin and parts of Queensland. Growing to heights of 15-30m, the russet-coloured angophoras shed their bark in spring to reveal spectacular new salmon-coloured bark.

  • Old man banksia, Moreton National Park. Photo: John Yurasek

    Old man banksia (Banksia serrata)

    Hardy Australian native plants, old man banksias can be found along the coast, and in the dry sclerophyll forests and sandstone mountain ranges of NSW. With roughened bark and gnarled limbs, they produce a distinctive cylindrical yellow-green banksia flower which blossoms from summer to early autumn.

  • Waratah. Photo: Barry Collier

    Waratah (Telopea speciosissima)

    The beautiful waratah is not only the NSW floral emblem, it's also one of the best-known Australian native plants. This iconic Australian bush flower can be found on sandstone ridges around Sydney, in nearby mountain ranges and on the NSW South Coast. The waratah has a vibrant crimson flowerhead, measuring up to 15cm across, and blossoms in spring.

Look out for...

Smooth-barked apple

Angophora costata

Smooth-barked apple. Photo: Jaime Plaza

Smooth-barked apple gums, also known as Sydney red gum or rusty gum trees, are Australian native plants found along the NSW coast, and in the Sydney basin and parts of Queensland. Growing to heights of 15-30m, the russet-coloured angophoras shed their bark in spring to reveal spectacular new salmon-coloured bark.

Environments in this park

Education resources (1)

School excursions (16)

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Charles Darwin walk, near Wentworth Falls, Blue Mountains. Photo: Elinor Sheargold/OEH.