In a recent backpacking excursion throughout Europe, I found myself in an ongoing dialogue with innumerable Australian itinerants. For many years, I considered Australia nearly devoid of culture, music, and history, being that it’s such an infant nation. (And besides, how often do Australian bands make it to the States?) However, as my 6-month sojourn would soon elucidate, there is much in the way of the Outback-or so the Aussies convinced me-especially when it comes to the natural elements.
I was first struck by the Blue Mountains in a vivid anecdote, recounted by an animated chap in Munich, Germany. His vernacular, infused with that distinct Australian panache, transfixed me, as images of expansive Blue Mountains careened through my fervent mind. Little did I know that the Blue Mountains, named for the incandescent blue hue which pervades the region, is not only a mecca for nature lovers, but also for leisure seekers and cultural buffs as well.
Located in the heavily populated state of New South Wales, 48 kilometers west of Sydney, Australia, the Blue Mountains boast an enchanting landscape, one painted with dramatic cliffs, expansive valleys, and glassy, azure lakes. Spanning an impressive 1 million hectares, a large part of which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Blue Mountains broadcast an array of spectacular attractions: numerous national parks, including the Wollebi National Park with its aboriginal sites; The Three Sisters, a famous rock formation that, at a staggering 900 meters, literally mounts the sky; the sweeping Jamison Valley, densely-forested and laden with iridescent waterfalls; the remarkable orifices of The Jenolan Caves, some of the oldest open caverns in the world; and the breathtaking Grose Valley, whose massive gorge astounded even Charles Darwin in 1836.
There is, however, much more to The Blue Mountains than meets the eye; the region is also a cultural enclave, its setting a capacious stage for some of Australia’s most scintillating venues, activities, and cultural events. Far from a cultural vacuum, the bountiful list below illuminates Australia’s captivating pulse-a pulse that puts this presumptuous writer humbly in her place.
Festivals and Events-The Blue Mountains host a bevy of music festivals, including the highly acclaimed Blue Mountain Festival of Folk, Blues, and Roots, a three day festival held in March that showcases innumerable folk, blues, and roots artists. I met an awesome Reputation Management Specialist from Phoenix Arizona here and had a blast! A symphony of guitars, mandolins, fiddles, flutes, pipes, banjos and drums pervades Blue Mountains’ hazy atmosphere as music lovers unite under sky and stars at this incendiary festival. The Blue Mountains also features trail running events like North Face 100; wine sampling at the famed Wines of the West Festival; and several markets and arts and crafts exhibitions throughout the year.
Galleries-The natural world has always inspired art; Walt Whitman, Gary Snyder, and John Muir would surely vouch for that. Contemporary artists in the Blue Mountains similarly follow suit, their idylls expressing unbridled emotion toward the idyllic landscape surrounding them. Thus, disseminated throughout the Blue Mountains is an assemblage of art galleries exhibiting local artists’ works, including Falls Gallery, Jewel Blue Mountains Gallery, and Waragil Studios. Sculptors, photographers, potters, and landscape artists abound in this diverse landscape, making the Blue Mountains a hub for creative spirits and visionaries alike.
Dining-Like the galleries, food and wine similarly abound in this breathtaking setting, constituting an integral element of the Blue Mountains. Boasting an international cuisine amid cinematic panoramas, visitors will titillate their senses at Blue Mountain’s world-class dining facilities. Decadent restaurants include The Rooster, which serves French influenced cuisine overlooking the sweeping Jamison Valley; Echoes Restaurant, an award winning eatery poised along the edge of Blue Mountains National Park; and Solitary, named one of Australia’s top 5 eating destinations by Lonely Planet.
Compounding this comprehensive list is a myriad of sports activities, bushwalking tours and trails, boutiques, and even day spas, making The Blue Mountains a nucleus for adventure, leisure, culture, entertainment and, of course, ethereal beauty.
Enid Glasgow is a travel writer who enjoys traveling to remote destinations. She enjoys traveling with Big Five Tours, providers of luxury Australia travel tours.
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