Blue Mountains Accommodation

Geography and Biology

The stunning sandstone cliffs and canyons of this area were formed millennia ago by the raging torrents of Gondwanaland, which carved them out of the plateau that forms over 1,400 square kilometres of the area now known as the 'Blue Mountains'. The Greater Blue Mountains Area is listed as World Heritage for its unique biological and geographical values, and forms part of the Great Dividing Range, which sits like a pie-crust all along the eastern edge of Australia. Here, the range reaches a maximum height of just over 1,100 metres at Mt Victoria.

The Blue Mountains, however – known in the Aussie vernacular as the 'Blueys' – are nothing like the rainforest-clad slopes of northern Queensland, or the granite and basalt country of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. In fact, they're like nothing else in Australia. They're not really mountains at all, but a huge sandstone plateau that has been ravaged by water courses, creating canyons and steep-sided valleys as the underlying soft rock gave way. Intriguingly, when you're down a canyon, you can often see evidence of water erosion several hundred metres above your head.

The diversity of wildlife, both flora and fauna, in the Blue Mountains is extraordinary, and is protected in seven outstanding national parks: the Blue Mountains, Wollemi, Yengo, Nattai, Kanangra-Boyd, Gardens of Stone and Thirlmere Lakes National Parks. That most Australian of trees, the eucalypt, grows here prolifically in wet and dry sclerophyll forests and mallee heathlands, as well as wetlands and grassland. Some twelve eucalypt species occur only in this region, and the area contains 13% of the global total. The diversity of eucalypts is one of the reasons for the area's World Heritage listing.

Here is the home of the waratah (Telopea speciosissima), New South Wales' floral emblem; the mountain devil (Lambertia formosa), so named for its devil's-head seed pods which follow the statuesque red spiky flowers; and the Wollemi pine (Wollemi nobilis), a relic from the Jurassic period only recently discovered. The Wollemi pine is now an internationally-known success story of bringing a rare and ancient species – only a handful of individual specimens survived in the Wollemi national park – back from the brink of extinction to the point where it will soon be a common sight in botanic and private gardens. It owes its greater chances of survival to David Noble, an officer with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, who saw something unusual in the deep and rugged country.

The Blue Mountains' inaccessible terrain and unique landforms have lent themselves well to the preservation of wildlife. Even today, with the many walking tracks crisscrossing the wilderness, there are areas accessible only to intrepid bushwalkers prepared to carry packs for several days. This has meant the assured survival of several species such as the spotted-tailed quoll, koala, eastern grey kangaroo, swamp wallaby, long-nosed potoroo, ringtail and brushtail possums, yellow-bellied glider and sugar glider, as well as those quintessentially Australian creatures, the platypus, wombat and echidna. In addition, there are various snakes, lizards, frogs and birds, including some endangered species, which call the Blue Mountains home.

For birdwatchers this is a colourful area, with numerous parrots, cockatoos and rosellas such as the crimson rosella, king parrot, galah, sulphur-crested cockatoo and yellow-tailed black cockatoo. Then there are those strange adaptations of birds such as the kookaburra, lyrebird and bower bird, not to mention the boobook owl. At least two rare reptiles survive here too: the green and golden bell frog and the Blue Mountains water skink.

Quick Find

Visitor Information

Holiday Packages

*Prices are per person, twin share

Overseas Getaways