Why are the Blue Mountains blue? | Blue Mountains Visitor Information


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The Blue Mountains, one of the most visited sites in Australia, a famous destination for day trips from Sydney and a UNESCO heritage area. A common question from many travelers who booked day tours with Sydney Top Tours was ‘Why are Australia’s the Blue Mountains blue?’ and this article will explain It is just 31 miles (50 km) northwest of Sydney Central Business District (CBD), which is a treasure trove of ever-changing spectacular landscapes. And the ideal getaway for a sublime experience of the Australian Bush. The extensive landscapes of the Greater Blue Mountains area extend to almost 156 miles (250 km) from north to south, from the edge of the Goulburn and Hunter Valleys to the Southern Highlands near Mittagong. And the Wombeyan Caves. This mountain range is considered an important part of the Australian heritage and an integral part of the topology of New South Wales.

As part of the Great Dividing Range, the Blue Mountains offer many activities and sightseeing opportunities attracting more than 4 million tourists of all ages and interests annually. This region is a thriving community built on culture and the arts with its foundation based on nature and preservation. As such, today, this region is the venue for holding live rock and classical concerts, art shows and exhibitions, a burlesque festival, and a supercar rally. It is home to nearly 80,000 people while its economy supports more than 20 million jobs. However, nature and all that entails will forever remain the highlight of the Blue Mountains.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Area due to its atypical eucalypt-based ecological system, this area remains a source of absorbing nature at its most inimitable by those who visit the region. As such, taking a trip to the Blue Mountains is not only a favorite with international travelers but very popular amongst the locals, and those on short business trips.

Why are the Blue Mountains blue?

Why are the Blue Mountains of Australia called blue? The Blue Mountains, famed for its endless eucalyptus (gum tree) forests, is home to all four different types of eucalyptus trees found in Australia. These trees are found not only in dedicated natural forest areas, but grow in canyons, ridges, cliffs, and surround the myriad waterfalls in the region. The high temperatures cause these gum trees to emit a fine mist discharge created from the eucalyptus oil from its leaves. This oil mist then combines with dust particles and water vapour as it rises to surround the area giving it an overall blue tint, especially when the sun shines high and bright. Thus, when viewed from a distance, especially Sydney city, the Blue Mountains look very blue indeed!

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

The region is a treasure-trove of unique features – sandstone plateaus, ridges, cliffs, and canyon interspersed with a dense growth of eucalyptus forests and extensive biodiversity. As such, the Greater Blue Mountains Area was recognized nearly 20 years ago by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for preservation and protection and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site on November 29, 2000.

The Greater Blue Mountains Area extends across 1.03 million hectares and includes eight protected areas encompassing a significant amount of Australia’s biodiversity, one-tenth of the country’s vascular flora, and some very rare and endangered plant species such as the Wollemi pine. However, the crowning glory of preservation and protection is the extensive species of eucalyptus trees and habitats forming what many call the diversity of eucalypt-dominated ecosystems on the Australian continent. In fact, this area is said to be home to a range of eucalyptus species and habitats with nearly 91% of eucalypt taxa (i.e. order, class, species, and family) occurring in this rare Blue Mountains region of Australia.

Gum Trees (eucalyptus)

Gum or eucalyptus trees, considered by many as Australian native, is the foundation of everything unique to this region and much of Australia. In fact, more than 700 eucalypt species are found across Australia. Of these, over 100 eucalypt species grow in the Greater Blue Mountains Area, making this one of the only places in the world to have such a large concentration of the eucalypt species and therefore the heart and soul of the evolution of the gum trees. This area is also home to three endemic eucalypt species, while another six eucalypt species growing there are listed as threatened in New South Wales, Australia. It is these eucalyptus forests that foster the distinct ecology and biodiversity that distinguishes the Blue Mountains region of Australia. 

Scribbly gum tree in Blue Mountains
Scribbly Gum Tree
Credits VisitNSW

This region has been developed and cultivated over the years as a popular tourist destination. It is a place which can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life and across generations. This region is famed for its Australian Bushwalking experiences including the Leura Cascades and the Prince Henry Cliff Walk which also lead to many lookout points or sandstone plateaus dotted within its vast landscapes allowing a glimpse of the extensive eucalyptus forests, valleys, and canyons. Waterfalls such as the Katoomba Falls and the Wentworth Falls are also very popular destinations in the Blue Mountains. In fact, Wentworth Falls is a historic town at the base of this area just a one-and-a-half-hour drive west of Sydney.

There are also campsites to enjoy living within the rugged terrain. The Warragamba Dam, Three Sisters Rock formation, Lincoln’s Rock, Mount Solitary, and the Botanical Gardens are also on the list of most popular sites to visit in this region of New South Wales. Scenic World is a less strenuous and more recently added attraction to the area. Offering railway, cableway, skyway, and walkway, Scenic World enables the self-exploration of the Blue Mountains using modern transportation for the less adventurous traveller.


Blue Mountains Day Trips

While this area has myriad adventures and things to do in the Blue Mountains, the best way to take in the vistas is by going on a private day trip from Sydney, enabling you to enjoy the area at leisure. There are many different alternatives to suit your specific interests. So, choose from any one of our Blue Mountain day trips from Sydney designed to be fun or adventurous while you explore this natural world over a period of many days. If you want to see the Blue Mountains when the sun sets, we highly recommend booking a Blue Mountains sunset tour. Contact us @ +61 498507873 or [email protected] if you want to book any day tours from Sydney.

Blue Mountain day trips