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The Blue Mountains are a mountainous
region In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics (physical geography), human impact characteristics (human geography), and the interaction of humanity and the environment (environmental geography). Geographic re ...
and a
mountain range A mountain range is a series of mountains ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and alignment that have arisen from the same cause, us ...

mountain range
located in
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...
,
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
. The region borders on
Sydney Sydney ( ; Dharug The Darug or Dharug people are an Aboriginal Australian people, who share strong ties of kinship and, in Colonial Australia, pre-colonial times, survived as skilled hunters in family groups or clans, scattered througho ...

Sydney
's metropolitan area, its foothills starting about west of centre of
the state capital
the state capital
, close to Penrith on the outskirts of Greater Sydney region. The public's understanding of the extent of the Blue Mountains is varied, as it forms only part of an extensive mountainous area associated with the
Great Dividing Range The Great Dividing Range, also known as the East Australian Cordillera or the Eastern Highlands, is a cordillera A cordillera is an extensive chain of mountains A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust 350px, Plates in t ...

Great Dividing Range
. Officially the Blue Mountains region is bounded by the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers in the east, the
Coxs River The Coxs River, a perennial river The Gangi River of Arrah, India">Arrah.html" ;"title="Gangi River of Arrah">Gangi River of Arrah, India A perennial stream or perennial river is a stream or river (channel) which has constant stream through ...
and
Lake Burragorang Lake Burragorang is a man-made reservoir in the lower Blue Mountains (Australia), Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, serving as a major water supply for Sydney, greater metropolitan Sydney. The dam impounding the lake, the Warragamba Da ...
to the west and south, and the Wolgan and Colo rivers to the north. Geologically, it is situated in the central parts of the
Sydney Basin#REDIRECT Sydney Basin The Sydney Basin is an interim Australian bioregion A bioregion is an ecology, ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a biogeographical realm, but larger than an ecoregion or an ecosystem, in t ...
. The ''Blue Mountains Range'' comprises a
range of mountains
range of mountains
, plateau escarpments extending off the Great Dividing Range about northwest of Wolgan Gap in a generally southeasterly direction for about , terminating at . For about two-thirds of its length it is traversed by the
Great Western Highway The Great Western Highway is a state highway in New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a States and territories of Australia, state on the Eastern states of Australia, east coast of :Australia. It borders Queensland to t ...
and the
Main Western railway line The Main Western Railway is a major railway in New South Wales, Australia. It runs through the Blue Mountains (Australia), Blue Mountains, Central West, New South Wales, Central West, North West Slopes, New South Wales, North West Slopes and the ...
. Several established towns are situated on its heights, including Katoomba, Blackheath, , and . The range forms the watershed between Coxs River to the south and the Grose and Wolgan rivers to the north. The range contains the Explorer Range and the Bell Range. The Blue Mountains area includes the local government area of the
City of Blue Mountains A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It can be defined as a ...
. Since the early 2010s, the region's biodiversity and infrastructure has been severely affected by massive
bushfires Bushfires in Australia are a widespread and regular occurrence that have contributed significantly to shaping the nature of the continent over millions of years. Eastern Australia is one of the most fire-prone regions of the world, and its pre ...
of unprecedented size and impact.


Etymology

Following European settlement of the Sydney area, the area was named the ''Carmarthen and Lansdowne Hills'' by
Arthur Phillip Admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer ...

Arthur Phillip
in 1788. The Carmarthen Hills were in the north of the region and the Lansdowne Hills were in the south. The name ''Blue Mountains'', however, was preferred and is derived from the blue tinge the range takes on when viewed from a distance. The tinge is believed to be caused by
Mie scattering The Mie solution to Maxwell's equations Maxwell's equations are a set of coupled partial differential equations that, together with the Lorentz force law, form the foundation of classical electromagnetism, classical optics, and electric cir ...

Mie scattering
which occurs when incoming light with shorter wavelengths is preferentially scattered by particles within the atmosphere imparting a blue-greyish colour to any distant objects, including mountains and clouds. Volatile
terpenoid The terpenoids, also known as isoprenoids, are a large and diverse class of naturally occurring organic chemicals , CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds. In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that contain ca ...
s emitted in large quantities by the abundant eucalyptus trees in the Blue Mountains may cause Mie scattering and thus the blue haze for which the mountains were named.


History


Geological history

A sandstone
plateau In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of which it is composed, and the proces ...

plateau
dominated by a landscape of endless
eucalyptus ''Eucalyptus'' () is a of over seven hundred species of s, shrubs or in the , Myrtaceae. Along with several other genera in the , including ', they are commonly known as s. Plants in the genus ''Eucalyptus'' have bark that is either smooth, ...

eucalyptus
forests, the Blue Mountains are located at the top of a 470-million-year-old
quartzite Quartzite is a hard, non-Foliation (geology), foliated metamorphic rock which was originally pure quartz sandstone.Essentials of Geology, 3rd Edition, Stephen Marshak, p 182 Sandstone is converted into quartzite through heating and pressure usu ...

quartzite
. In the
Permian The Permian ( ) is a geologic period The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological dating that classifies Geology, geological strata (stratigraphy) in time. It is used by geologists, paleontology, paleontologists, and other earth ...
period, a shallow sea covered the region, when rivers brought
shale Shale is a fine-grained, clastic Clastic rocks are composed of fragments, or clasts, of pre-existing minerals In geology and mineralogy, a mineral or mineral species is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound with a fairly well-defi ...

shale
s,
siltstone Siltstone, also known as aleurolite, is a clastic sedimentary rock of a clast (sand grain), derived from a basalt Basalt (, ) is a fine-grained extrusive igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of low-viscosity lava rich in magne ...
s and
mudstone Mudstone, a type of mudrock Mudrocks are a class of fine-grained Granularity (also called graininess), the condition of existing in granular material, granules or Grain, grains, refers to the extent to which a material or system is composed ...

mudstone
s. Then during the
Mesozoic The Mesozoic Era ( ), also called the Age of Reptiles and the Age of Conifers, is the second-to-last era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology or historiography, as in the regnal eras in the history of a given monarchy ...
period, rivers dumped vast amounts of
sand Sand is a granular material composed of finely divided rock (geology), rock and mineral particles. Sand has various compositions but is defined by its grain size. Sand grains are smaller than gravel and coarser than silt. Sand can also refer ...

sand
, burying the other
sedimentary rock Sedimentary rocks are types of rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its Chemical compoun ...

sedimentary rock
s. By about 1 million years ago during the
Pliocene The Pliocene ( ; also Pleiocene) epoch (geology), Epoch is the epoch in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.333 million to 2.58valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between hills or mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Most valleys are formed by erosion of the land surface by rivers or streams over ...

valley
s and steep
cliffs In geography and geology, a cliff is an area of rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included ...

cliffs
, with an elevation of 3,900 feet. Its main distinctive natural feature are the Three Sisters, a formation of triple sandstone peaks scoured by
erosion In earth science Earth science or geoscience includes all fields of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific ...

erosion
, whose rocks are lit by the glimpse of light at the
time of day An hour (symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, Object (philosophy), object, or wikt:relationship, relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen ...
.


Aboriginal inhabitants

The Blue Mountains have been inhabited for millennia by the Gundungurra people, now represented by the Gundungurra Tribal Council Aboriginal Corporation based in Katoomba, and, in the lower Blue Mountains, by the
Darug people The Darug or Dharug people are an Aboriginal Australian people, who share strong ties of kinship and, in Colonial Australia, pre-colonial times, lived as skilled hunters in family groups or clans, scattered throughout much of what is modern-da ...
, now represented by the Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation. The Gundungurra creation story of the Blue Mountains tells that Dreaming creatures Mirigan and Garangatch, half fish and half reptile, fought an epic battle which scarred the landscape into the Jamison Valley. The Gundungurra Tribal Council is a nonprofit organisation representing the Gundungurra traditional owners, promoting heritage and culture and providing a support for Gundungurra people connecting back to Country. Gundungurra Tribal Council Aboriginal Corporation has a registered Native Title Claim since 1995 over their traditional lands, which include the Blue Mountains and surrounding areas. Examples of Aboriginal habitation can be found in many places. In the Red Hands Cave, a rock shelter near
GlenbrookGlenbrook may refer to: Locations Australia *Glenbrook, New South Wales Canada *Glenbrook, Calgary, a neighbourhood in Alberta Ireland *Glenbrook, County Cork, a small area in County Cork on the southeast tip of Ireland New Zealand *Glenbrook, N ...
, the walls contain hand stencils from adults and children. On the southern side of Queen Elizabeth Drive, at Wentworth Falls, a rocky knoll has a large number of grinding grooves created by rubbing stone implements on the rock to shape and sharpen them. There are also carved images of animal tracks and an occupation cave. The site is known as Kings Tableland Aboriginal Site and dates back 22,000 years.


Australian Colonial History

Arthur Phillip Admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer ...

Arthur Phillip
, the first governor of New South Wales, first glimpsed the extent of the Blue Mountains from a ridge at the site of today's Oakhill College, Castle Hill. He named them the Carmarthen Hills, "some forty to sixty miles distant..." and he reckoned that the ground was "most suitable for government stock". This is the location where Gidley King in 1799 established a prison town for political prisoners from Ireland and Scotland. The first documented use of the name ''Blue Mountains'' appears in Captain John Hunter's account of Phillip's 1789 expedition up the Hawkesbury River. Describing the events of about 5 July, Hunter wrote: "We frequently, in some of the reaches which we passed through this day, saw very near us the hills, which we suppose as seen from Port Jackson, and called by the governor the Blue Mountains." During the nineteenth century the name was commonly applied to the portion of the Great Dividing Range from about Goulburn in the south to the Hunter Valley in the north, but in time it came to be associated with a more limited area. The native Aborigines knew two routes across the mountains: Bilpin Ridge, which is now the location of
Bells Line of Road Bells Line of Road is a major road located in New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. ...
between
Richmond Richmond may refer to: People * Richmond (surname) * Earl of Richmond * Duke of Richmond * Richmond C. Beatty (1905–1961), American academic, biographer and critic * Richmond Avenal, character in British sitcom List of The IT Crowd characters#R ...
and
Bell A bell is a struck idiophone, directly struck idiophone percussion instrument. Most bells have the shape of a hollow cup that when struck vibrates in a single strong strike tone, with its sides forming an efficient resonator. The strike may be ...
, and the
Coxs River The Coxs River, a perennial river The Gangi River of Arrah, India">Arrah.html" ;"title="Gangi River of Arrah">Gangi River of Arrah, India A perennial stream or perennial river is a stream or river (channel) which has constant stream through ...
, a tributary of the
Nepean River Nepean River (Darug The Darug or Dharug people are an people, who share strong ties of kinship and, in times, lived as skilled hunters in family groups or clans, scattered throughout much of what is modern-day . The Darug, originally a ...
. It could be followed upstream to the open plains of the Kanimbla Valley, the type of country that farmers prize. British settlers initially considered that fertile lands lay beyond the mountains; while in the belief of many convicts China lay beyond. However, there was little fear that the mountains might provide a means of escape since they were considered impassable. This idea was, to some extent, convenient for local authorities. An "insurmountable" barrier would deter convicts from trying to escape in that direction. A former convict, John Wilson, may have been the first colonist to cross the Blue Mountains. It is also believed that Mathew Everingham, 1795, may have also been partly successful based on letters he wrote at the time which came to light in the late 1980s. Wilson arrived with the First Fleet in 1788 and was freed in 1792. He settled in the bush, living with the Aborigines and even functioning as an intermediary between them and the settlers. In 1797 he returned to Sydney, claiming to have explored up to a hundred miles in all directions around Sydney, including across the mountains. His descriptions and observations were generally accurate, and it is possible that he had crossed the mountains via the southern aspect at the Coxs River corridor, guided by the Aborigines. Governor Hunter was impressed by Wilson's skills and sent him on an expedition with John Price and others in January 1798. The party crossed the Nepean River and moved southwest towards the present site of
Mittagong Mittagong is a town located in the Southern Highlands, New South Wales, Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, in Wingecarribee Shire. The town acts as the gateway to the Southern Highlands when coming from Sydney. Mittagong is situat ...
. There they turned west and found a route along the ridge where today the Wombeyan Caves Road is located. In the process they found a way to go west of the mountains, by going around them instead of across them. In March of the same year, Wilson and Price ventured to the Camden area, and then continued further south until they encountered Thirlmere Lakes, finally almost reaching the present site of
Goulburn Goulburn is a regional city in the Southern Tablelands of the Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian conti ...
. It is possible that the accomplishments of this expedition were suppressed by Hunter, who may not have wanted convicts to know that there was a relatively easy way out of Sydney. Wilson was killed by Aborigines after abducting an Aboriginal woman "for his personal use", but he had accomplished much as an explorer. He was never recognised as the first person to cross the mountains, possibly because his Coxs River journey could not be verified, while his route west of Mittagong may have been the "long way around" for a colony that had its eyes fixed on the sandstone fortress west of the Nepean. Between 1798 and 1813, many people explored various parts of the mountains, from the Bilpin Ridge to the southern regions, today the site of the
Kanangra-Boyd National Park The Kanangra-Boyd National Park is a state park, protected national park that is located in the Central Tablelands region, west of the Southern Highlands (New South Wales), Southern Highlands and Macarthur (New South Wales), Macarthur regions, in ...

Kanangra-Boyd National Park
. Still, they did not find a definite route across the mountains. The
1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains The 1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains was the expedition led by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Wentworth, William Charles Wentworth, which became the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Blue Mountai ...
by
Gregory Blaxland Gregory Blaxland (17 June 1778 – 1 January 1853) was an English pioneer farmer and explorer in Australia, noted especially for initiating and co-leading the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains by European settlers. Early life ...

Gregory Blaxland
, William Lawson and is officially credited as the first successful European crossing. Blaxland set out with Lawson and Wentworth on 11 May 1813 and succeeded in crossing the mountains by 31 May. They ventured as far as to what is now Mount Blaxland, just west of
Coxs River The Coxs River, a perennial river The Gangi River of Arrah, India">Arrah.html" ;"title="Gangi River of Arrah">Gangi River of Arrah, India A perennial stream or perennial river is a stream or river (channel) which has constant stream through ...
. In November 1813, Macquarie sent the surveyor George Evans on an expedition to confirm the apparent discoveries made by Blaxland and his party. He was also told to see if there existed enough arable land to justify settlement. The issue had become more urgent because the colony was in the grips of a drought. Evans and his party reached the
Fish Fish are aquatic Aquatic means relating to water Water (chemical formula H2O) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the ...
and
MacquarieMacquarie may refer to: People * Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of the British colony of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821. * Elizabeth Macquarie Campbell, Lachlan Macquarie's second wife Locations * Division of Macquarie, an electoral district in the ...
rivers, and the site of
BathurstBathurst may refer to: People * Bathurst (surname) Places and jurisdictions In Australia * Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia and the following things associated with the city ** Bathurst Region, the local government area for the Bathurst u ...
. On 7 July 1814, construction of a road across the mountains was begun by William Cox. The work was at the behest of Governor Macquarie. 30 convict labourers and 8 guards completed the road on 14 January 1815 after 27 weeks of hard work. Since the Blue Mountains are rich in coal and shale, mining for these resources began in Hartley Vale in 1865. J.B. North ran a shale mine in the Jamison Valley in the 19th century, and other operations were set up in several places. Locations for mining activities included the
Jamison Valley The Jamison Valley forms part of the Coxs River canyon system in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a States and territories of Australia, state on the Eastern states of Australia, east coast of ...

Jamison Valley
, the upper
Grose Valley The Grose Valley is a rugged valley in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a States and territories of Australia, state on the Eastern states of Australia, east coast of :Australia. It borders Queensl ...

Grose Valley
,
Newnes Newnes, an abandoned oil shale Oil shale is an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock Sedimentary rocks are types of Rock (geology), rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of mineral or organic matter, organic partic ...
, Glen Davis and the Asgard Swamp area outside Mount Victoria. Shale mining failed in the long run because it was not financially viable.


Climate

The climate varies with elevation. At Katoomba, () the summer average maximum temperature is around 22 °C with a few days extending into the 30s (80s–90s °F) although it is quite common to see maximum temperatures stay in the teens when east coast troughs persist. Night-time temperatures are usually in the teens but can drop to single figures at times. During winter, the temperature is typically around 10 to 11 °C in the daytime with −1 °C or so on clear nights and 3 to 4 °C on cloudy nights. Very occasionally it will get down to −3 °C or slightly lower but usually the coldest air drains into the valleys during calm, clear nights. However, the passing of cold fronts can significantly lower the average temperature during the night and the day. The Blue Mountains is not known for particularly cold mornings compared to other areas on the Central Tablelands, such as Oberon, Bathurst and Orange. There are two to three snowfalls per year. Annual rainfall is about in the Upper Blue Mountains with many misty days.


Geography

The predominant natural vegetation of the higher ridges is eucalyptus forest. Heath-like vegetation is present on plateau edges above cliffs. The sheltered gorges often contain temperate
rainforest Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree canopy Canopy may refer to: Plants * Canopy (biology), aboveground portion of plant community or crop (including forests) * Canopy (grape), aboveground portion of grapevine Religi ...

rainforest
s. There are also many hanging swamps with button grass reeds and thick, deep black soil. ''
Wollemia nobilis ''Wollemia'' is a genus of coniferous Conifers are a group of cone-bearing seed plants The spermatophytes (; ), also known as phanerogams (taxon Phanerogamae) or phaenogams (taxon Phaenogamae), comprise those plant Plants are predomina ...

Wollemia nobilis
'', the "Wollemi pine", a relict of earlier vegetation of
Gondwana Gondwana () or Gondwanaland was a supercontinent In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (ge ...

Gondwana
, is found in remote and isolated valleys of the
Wollemi National Park The Wollemi National Park () is a protected national park A national park is a park in use for Conservation (ethic), conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or dev ...
.


Mountain peaks

The Blue Mountains Range contains smaller mountain ranges: the Bell Range near The Bells Line of Road and north of the Grose River; the Explorer Range, south of the Grose River extending west towards Mount Victoria; the Caley Range, Erskine Range, Mount Hay Range, Paterson Range, and the Woodford Range. The major recorded peaks are: *''unnamed peak'' () * Mount Piddington () * Mount Boyce () *
Mount York Mount York, a mountain in the western region of the Explorer Range, part of the Blue Mountains (Australia), Blue Mountains Range that is a spur off the Great Dividing Range, is located approximately west of Sydney, just outside Mount Victoria, Ne ...
() *
Mount Banks Mount Banks, a mountain within the Explorers Range of the Blue Mountains (New South Wales), Blue Mountains Range that is a spur off the Great Dividing Range, is located within the Blue Mountains National Park, approximately west of Sydney in New ...
() * Mount Wilson () *
Kings Tableland The Kings Tableland is a plateau In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of w ...

Kings Tableland
() * Narrow Neck Plateau () *
Mount Solitary Mount Solitary, a mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summit area, and is larger than a hi ...

Mount Solitary
() * Mount Hay () * Mount Irvine ()


Geology

The Blue Mountains are a
dissected plateau A dissected plateau is a plateau In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid Earth, the rock (geology), rocks of ...
carved in
sandstone Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock of a clast (sand grain), derived from a basalt Basalt (, ) is a fine-grained extrusive igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of low-viscosity lava rich in magnesium and iron ('' mafic ' ...

sandstone
bedrock Bedrock in geology Geology (from the γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is a branch of concerned with both the liquid and , the of which it is composed, and the processes by which they cha ...

bedrock
. They are now a series of ridge lines separated by up to deep. The highest point in the Blue Mountains, as it is now defined, is an unnamed point with an elevation of , located north-east of . However, the highest point in the broader region that was once considered to be the Blue Mountains is
Mount Bindo Mount Bindo, a mountain on the Great Dividing Range, is located in the Central Tablelands region of New South Wales, Australia. With an elevation of Australian Height Datum, above sea level, Mount Bindo is one of the highest points on the Centra ...
, with an elevation .Macqueen, Andy, 2012. The Blue Mountains: where are they? Blue Mountains History Journal, Issue 3. Blue Mountains Association of Cultural Heritage Organisations. October 2012. A large part of the Blue Mountains is incorporated into the
Greater Blue Mountains Area The Greater Blue Mountains Area is a World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ...
World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for h ...
, consisting of seven national park areas and a conservation reserve. The Blue Mountains area is a distinct physiographic section of the larger Hunter-Hawkesbury Sunkland province. This is in turn a part of the larger
East Australian Cordillera The Great Dividing Range, also known as the East Australian Cordillera or the Eastern Highlands, is a cordillera A cordillera is an extensive chain of mountains A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust 350px, Plates in ...
physiographic division.


Bushfires

The main natural disasters to afflict the area are bush fires and severe storms. In recent years the lower mountains have been subjected to a series of bush fires which have caused great loss of property but relatively little loss of life. The upper mountains had not had a major fire for some decades until December 2002 (the Blackheath Glen Fire) and November 2006 when an extensive blaze in the Grose Valley threatened several communities including
Bell A bell is a struck idiophone, directly struck idiophone percussion instrument. Most bells have the shape of a hollow cup that when struck vibrates in a single strong strike tone, with its sides forming an efficient resonator. The strike may be ...
and Blackheath (the Lawsons Long Alley Fire). This latest fire burned for almost a month but was extinguished, mainly due to a change in the weather, without loss of human life or property. A program of winter burning seemed to have been successful in reducing fires in the upper mountains. In recent years, the brushfires have become far more destructive and expansive than before. The region was severely damaged in the 2013 New South Wales bushfires. However, even this was dwarfed by the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season, during which the entire mountain range was devastated at a scale never seen before. According to preliminary reports, up to 80% of the World Heritage Area has burned as of January 2020, many of these being areas that had never burned in any previously observed bushfires. These destructive blazes have been linked to accelerating climate change. There have been fears that the blazes may severely reduce the biodiversity of the area and even wipe out some of the threatened species in the area, such as the
regent honeyeater The regent honeyeater (''Anthochaera phrygia'') is a critically endangered bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves , characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the Oviparit ...

regent honeyeater
.


World Heritage listing

The Greater Blue Mountains Area was unanimously listed as a World Heritage Area by UNESCO on 29 November 2000, becoming the fourth area in New South Wales to be listed. The area totals roughly , including the Blue Mountains, Kanangra-Boyd, Wollemi, Gardens of Stone, Yengo, Nattai and Thirlmere Lakes National Parks, plus the Jenolan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve. This site was chosen to be included on the World Heritage list because:


Fauna

The Greater Blue Mountains Area is inhabited by over 400 different forms of animals. Among them are rare mammal species like spotted-tailed quoll, the
koala The koala or, inaccurately, koala bear (''Phascolarctos cinereus''), is an arboreal herbivorous marsupial native to Australia. It is the only Extant taxon, extant representative of the family Phascolarctidae and its closest living relative ...

koala
, the
yellow-bellied glider The yellow-bellied glider (''Petaurus australis''), also known as the fluffy glider, is an arboreal Arboreal locomotion is the locomotion of animals in trees. In habitats in which trees are present, animals have evolved to move in them. Some ...
, and
long-nosed potoroo The long-nosed potoroo (''Potorous tridactylus'') is a species of potoroo. These small marsupials are part of the rat-kangaroo family. The long-nosed potoroo contains two subspecies, ''P. t. tridactylus'' from Mainland Australia, and ''P. t. apic ...

long-nosed potoroo
. There are also some rare reptiles, like the Blue Mountain water skink.UNESCO World Heritage Convention
Greater Blue Mountains Area
downloaded on 2 August 2011
There are also some dingos in the area, which form the top predators and hunt for Eastern grey kangaroo, grey kangaroos.


Tourist attractions

* The Three Sisters near Katoomba, New South Wales is one of Australia's most-photographed landmarks. * The Edge Cinema offers visitors a panoramic view of the Blue Mountains. * The Giant Stairway walking track runs down a cliff into the Jamison Valley, near the Three Sisters, providing access to nature walks through the valley. * Jenolan Caves, a series of limestone caves south west of Katoomba. * The Katoomba Scenic World#Railway, Katoomba Scenic Railway is an incline railway now used for tourism, and originally part of the Katoomba mining tramways constructed between 1878 and 1900. The incline railway descends through sandstone cliffs, via a rock tunnel with a maximum gradient of 52 degrees. Also, at this location is the Scenic Skyway, a glass-bottom aerial cable car that traverses an arm of the Jamison Valley, and the Scenic Cableway, the steepest aerial cable car in Australia. * The Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum at Faulconbridge, New South Wales, Faulconbridge, operated by The National Trust of Australia and is located inside the former Norman Lindsay homestead, ''Springwood''. * The Leuralla, Toy and Railway Museum at Leura, New South Wales, Leura. * Knapsack Viaduct, also a location where the bell miner bird can often be heard. * Lennox Bridge, Glenbrook, on Mitchell's Pass which may be hiked (downhill) from Blaxland, New South Wales, Blaxland to Emu Plains, New South Wales, Emu Plains (8 km). * Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum. * The Zig Zag Railway: A steam-powered railway near Lithgow, New South Wales, Lithgow. * A popular way to visit the Blue Mountains is by coach. * The last remaining apple orchard on the Shipley Plateau. * The Explorers tree, next to the
Great Western Highway The Great Western Highway is a state highway in New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a States and territories of Australia, state on the Eastern states of Australia, east coast of :Australia. It borders Queensland to t ...
, west of Katoomba. *The Prime Ministers' Corridor of Oaks, at Faulconbridge, New South Wales, Faulconbridge, near the Great Western Highway. * Red Hands Cave in the Blue Mountains National Park near
GlenbrookGlenbrook may refer to: Locations Australia *Glenbrook, New South Wales Canada *Glenbrook, Calgary, a neighbourhood in Alberta Ireland *Glenbrook, County Cork, a small area in County Cork on the southeast tip of Ireland New Zealand *Glenbrook, N ...
is one of the best examples of Indigenous Australian art, Aboriginal art in the area. * Lincoln's Rock in Wentworth Falls, New South Wales offers spectacular views of the
Jamison Valley The Jamison Valley forms part of the Coxs River canyon system in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a States and territories of Australia, state on the Eastern states of Australia, east coast of ...

Jamison Valley
. Formerly known as Flat Rock, it was named after Australian mountaineer Lincoln Hall (climber) in 2013.


Recreational activity

The Blue Mountains are a popular destination for Rock climbing, rock climbers, Mountain biking, mountain bikers and Hiking, hikers as well as canyoning and other adventure sports. These sports are well catered for by guiding companies and equipment stores located mainly in Katoomba. Popular climbing destinations include the Centennial Glen cliffs near Blackheath and Mount Piddington near the town of Mount Victoria. Climbing is currently banned on The Three Sisters. Mountain biking takes place mainly on the many fire trails that branch away from the main spine of the Great Western Highway, such as Narrow Neck, Anderson's Fire Trail and others. Likewise many of the fire trails are popular with day hikers, though many dedicated walking trails exist away from the fire roads. Canyoning in the Blue Mountains is a popular sport and caters for various skill levels. It carries inherent dangers, yet for those with the appropriate skills or those looking to take a guided trip there are many great opportunities to experience a different view of the Blue Mountains. There are numerous abseiling options available in the Blue Mountains including single and multipitch routes. There are some restrictions though with certain areas being closed for abseiling. Cricket is a popular sport in the Blue Mountains, with the Blue Mountains Cattle Dogs representing the district in the Western Zone Premier League, Country Plate and Presidents Cup competitions.


Gallery


See also

* * Aboriginal sites of New South Wales * Blue Mountains National Park *
Greater Blue Mountains Area The Greater Blue Mountains Area is a World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ...
* List of mountains in Australia * Geography of Sydney


References


External links

*
Official Blue Mountains National Park website

Visitor's Guide to the Blue Mountains – Visit NSW
{{Authority control Blue Mountains (New South Wales), Physiographic sections Climbing areas of Australia Tourist attractions in Sydney Great Dividing Range Regions of Sydney