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  • Facts about Katoomba and surrounding areas

    In 1788 the Blue Mountains were originally named Carmarthen Hills and Landsdowne Hills by Governor Phillip, however, it wasnt long after, that the distinctive blue haze surrounding the area saw the change in name to the Blue Mountains.

    Why are they called the Blue Mountains?

    The Blue Mountains is densely populated by oil-bearing Eucalyptus trees. The atmosphere is filled with finely dispersed droplets of oil, which, in combination with dust particles and water vapour, scatter short-wave length rays of light, which are predominantly blue in colour.

    Archaeological studies indicate that the Blue Mountains were formed around one million years ago as part of the Kosciusko Uplift during the Pliocene Epoch.

    When were the Blue Mountains Formed?

    Pressure from the east raised the area upwards in a monoclinal fold, reaching an elevation of around three thousand feet to the top of the Blue Mountains where Mount Victoria is today.

    Did you know The Three Sisters are 922, 918 & 906 metres tall, respectively. That's over 3000 feet above sea level!

    The Three sisters Rock Formation

    The Legend

    The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, 'Meehni', 'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo' lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe. These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry.

    The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle. As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.

    The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area:

    The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area Fast Facts

    was accepted onto the World Heritage List on 29 November 2000 was listed for its superlative representation of Australia's unique and characteristic

    eucalypt vegetation is one of 17 World Heritage sites in Australia, and 851 in the world (in 2007) covers more than 10,000 square kilometres stretches for 220 km from north to south lies only 60 km from the centre of Sydney is made up of eight adjoining conservation reserves - Jenolan Karst Conservation

    Reserve and Yengo, Wollemi, Gardens of Stone, Blue Mountains, Kanangra-Boyd, Nattai and Thirlmere Lakes National Parks

  • protects 70 different vegetation communities, more than 1,500 species of higher

    plants (representing 10% of Australia's total) and at least 100 species of eucalypt (13% of the world's total)

    protects at least 150 plant species that are found only in the Greater Blue Mountains

    saves one of the largest areas of protected forest in Australia has been inhabited by Aboriginal people for at least 12,000 years overlaps the traditional Country of at least six indigenous language groups - the

    Wanaruah, Darkinjung, Darug, Wiradjuri, Gundungurra and Dharawal protects 700 known places of Aboriginal significance, and many others yet to be

    recorded includes one area (Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve) that has been continuously

    protected since 1866 ranges in elevation from near sea level on the Hawkesbury-Nepean River to 1,334

    metres on the Boyd Plateau is in such good natural condition that 51% of it has been classified as Wilderness for

    extra protection includes the largest wilderness (Wollemi Wilderness) in eastern Australia between

    Cape York Peninsula and Tasmania provides vital clean water to Sydney's main water supply catchment of Lake

    Burragorang, as well as many smaller catchments http://www.greaterbluemountainsdrive.com.au/world-heritage-facts.php

    Due to the rough terrain and lack of resources, the Blue Mountains were seen as an impassable barrier for future exploration from the time of Captain Cooks landing in 1770 through to 1813.

    Crossing the Blue Mountains

    In 1813, Gregory Blaxland, William Charles Wentworth, and Lieutenant Lawson, along with four servants, four pack horses and five dogs, set off on an exploration which was to create history. On the 11th May 1813 the explorers departed from Emu Plains reaching the foothills of the Blue Mountains, or Glenbrook as it is known today.

    For Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson, the trip across the Blue Mountains was a tremendous struggle. Having insufficient food for their journey, they recorded the trek required constant hacking through thick scrub and treading through "damp dew-laden undergrowth". They were also in fear of attack by aborigines. These factors, in combination with sickness, nearly saw the men defeated by the rugged terrain.

    Eighteen days later, on the 29th May 1813, the Blue Mountains were no longer considered an impassable barrier following the discovery of the gently sloping mountains to the west.

    Today, just west of Katoomba you can see the remains of a Eucalyptus tree marked by the famous explorers Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson. The Marked Tree, along with Caleys Repulse at Lawson, are the only remaining marks of the early explorers. A cairn of stones was also placed at Linden, however, we can not be certain if the existing cairn at Linden is the original.

    In the 1850s Gold was discovered in the Bathurst district. This discovery resulted in a lot of travellers across the Blue Mountains.

    The Chinese in the Blue Mountains

    The Gold Rush attracted many Chinese people who were not so much interested in Gold as they were in selling their skills and merchandise across the Blue Mountains.

    Springwood, with its pleasant climate, became the camping ground for hundreds of Chinese around this time.


  • Surprisingly enough Katoomba was little known in history until 1879 when J.B. North opened the Katoomba Coal Mine. Coal was obtained from the side of the mountain near Orphan Rock using a cable car to bring the coal to the top. The now famous Scenic Railway operates in the original cutting in the mountain side. The first hotel in Katoomba was erected in 1882 by Mr. Harry Rowell. Known as the Great Western Hotel this establishment attracted many visitors and tourists to the area. The hotel was sold in 1886 to Mr. F. Goyder who performed major alterations on the building and renamed it "The Carrington" after the reigning Governor.


    Along the Blue Mountains railway line in 1874, there was an area where stone was quarried to provide ballast. The area was given the name of "Crushes". It was at this point trains stopped to adjust the brakes of the carriages to allow for the descent to Springwood. The name "Crushes" was changed to Katoomba in 1877.


    Once you leave Blaxland near Penrith and make your way up the mountains you will not see any fast hamburger joints, pizza parlours or chicken chains such as red rooster or KFC.

    Fast food or Slow Food

    The residents of Katoomba have fought hard to keep fast food chains out of the mountains. The community got together some time ago and protested against a McDonalds wanting to set up in Katoomba. It sent a powerful message to the council that the residents did not want fast food chains.. The only fast food chain is a Subway in Katoomba.

    So much so they are now a Cittaslow. Slow Food.


    The City of the Blue Mountains has won endorsement as a Cittaslow*, highlighting the region's qualities as an outstanding source of fine food and quality produce, and as a thriving artistic environment. Being declared a Cittaslow will add to the Blue Mountains' already high status as a UNESCO World Heritage Area and one of Australia's top tourist destinations.

    Delegates from Cittaslow headquarters in Orvieto (Italy) visited the Blue Mountains on 16 March. A full itinerary ensured that they gained a taste of the region's magnificent natural environment, diverse cafes and restaurants, artisan bakeries and other small businesses, vibrant arts community and unique domestic architecture.

    The visit by the Italian delegation capped a feverish few months' work by a dedicated Blue Mountains group to gain support from local government and tourism authorities and prepare a massive submission for Italy's Cittaslow HQ emphasising the region's eligibility.

    The visit culminated in the announcement at a Civic Reception at the historic Carrington Hotel of successful endorsement as CITTASLOW KATOOMBA BLUE MOUNTAINS. The luncheon event featured food of the region ranging from Hominy sourdough bread to Bathurst wines, Oberon bio-dynamic lamb, in-season chestnuts from Mount Irvine, cheeses, and gourmet cakes and chocolates. The food was prepared and served by Carrington staff and students from the Blue Mountains Hotel School.

    Cittaslow (literally 'Slow City', pronounced CHITTA-slow) is an extension of the worldwide Slow Food movement. Since beginning in 1999, Cittaslow has seen the establishment of networks involving around 100 cities, mainly in European countries, and is spreading further afield including to South Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The foundation of the Australasian Cittaslow Network is being established and it will be driven by Blue Mountains and Goolwa, SA.