The Blue Mountains are a mountain range in the Australian region of New South Wales 50 Kilometers (30 miles) west of Sidney. Some of these mountains reach 1100 meters height. Their name is due to the blue haze that hovered above the mountains, which is produced by the oil from the plentiful Eucalyptus trees. The Blue Mountains extend from the west side of the Nepean River to westward until Coxs River.
The Blue Mountains are a great spectacle to lovers of the nature; because, they offer to the visitors a wonderful scenery full of wildlife. The area is composed by a sandstone plateau of 1.03 million hectares; there are also many escarpments and gorges of up 760 meters in depth, cascades and many other amazing landscapes. Most part of Blue Mountains area is within the Greater Blue Mountains National Park, which is a World Heritage Site and one of the seven national parks of Australia.
This region is considered one of the most popular tourist destinations near Sidney. The Blue Mountains are especially popular amongst people in summer, when they prefer to avoid the heat of the coast; since, in the Blue Mountains, it can find spectacular rock formations, cliffs and ravines and enjoy a mild climate. The region is dominated by the temperate eucalypt forest. The Blue Mountains park is one of the best representation of Australia’s biodiversity; since, this place is home of many endemic species of life such as the Wollemi pine, the Sydney peppermint, the turpentine or animals, like the eastern grey kangaroo, the red-necked wallaby, the wombat and many other species. This National park offers some of the most wonderful walking trails of the country. It is an excellent place by the lovers of the adventure tourism; since, it offers also activities such as rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing and a nice hotel infrastructure.
There are many interest and marvelous points in the Blue Mountains, such as the Red Han Cave (where scientists found several Aboriginal hand stencils), the Jenolan Caves, the Mount Boyce, the Mount Piddington, the Mount York, the Mount Wilson, the Three Sisters or the Wentworth Falls; some of them are located in the road between the small town of Leura and Katoomba.
There are two main routes to explore the Blue Mountains. These routes run through the Great Western Highway or along the beautiful Bells Line of Road. A great way to know the Blue Mountains is using the train from Sidney to Katoomba, which is available every hour and stops at several places along the Blue Mountains. There are also some bus services that offer a tour for some of the most famous attractions in this wonderful site.
The region of the Blue Mountains has been inhabited by several millennia by the Australian Aborigines. The oldest vestiges of human presence in this zone were found in the Red Hands Cave, a place near Glenbrook. In this cave was found a rock shelter with stencils made by adults and children. On the other hand, archeologists have discovered some grinding grooves which would have been used to sharpen stone implements.
During the early colonial time, British considered the mountains impassable. This wrong idea was very convenient for the colonial authorities; since, the legend of the insurmountable mountain barrier was a great story to deter convicts (who were the main inhabitants of Australia at the beginning of the colonial period) from to escape. But, in 1792, John Wilson, an ex convict was the first European man that crossed the Blue Mountains. He lived then, with the aborigines and became an intermediary between the natives and the British; nevertheless, Wilson was never officially recognized as the first man to find a route to cross the mountains. Later, at the beginning of the XIX century, many people made explorations trips in the Blue Mountains. In 1813 an expedition composed by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles crossed the Blue Mountains and received officially the credit for crossing for first time this mountain range.
In 1814 the Governor Macquarie ordered the construction of the first road through the Blue Mountains, which was completed on January 14, 1815. Thanks to this road, the rich deposits of coal and shale of the mountains started to be exploited. Many mining operations were established in several zones of the Blue Mountains during the XIX century, producing an important development in the region.
The Great Blue Mountains National Park was proposed for first time in 1932 by the conservationist Myles Dunphy. The Park proposed by Dunphy, included zones that are occupied currently by the Blue Mountains National Park, the Wollemi National Park, the Kanangra-Boyd National Park and the Nattai National Park. Nevertheless, the current Blue Mountains National Park was created only in 1959 and 41 years later, in 2000, the Blue Mountains were nominated as World Heritage zone, being the fourth zone of New South Wales to be listed by UNESCO. Today, Blue Mountains are one of the most important tourist destinations of Australia and one of the most popular wonders of this country.