What is the Blue Mountains?
If you’ve ever heard the term ‘Sydney Basin’ before it starts making a lot more sense when you actually try to leave, there’s the wild Pacific Ocean to the east, and mountain ranges to the north, south, and west.
The Blue Mountains is the leg of the Great Dividing Range that skirts around to the west of Sydney and is known for some seriously challenging 4WDing, but flies under the radar a little with some of the more adventurous activities you can partake in.
Things to do in the Blue Mountains
Thousands of years of history meet with tough 4WDing, a city in the clouds, and some of the most stunning landscapes you'll find on the east coast of Australia
Top 8 Things to do
- Drive Moon Rock
When we say that the Blue Mountains is a playground for 4WDers we mean the big and the little ones. The tracks to the north of Lithgow offer challenges for everything from stock 4WDs to full competition spec rigs on 40in tyres. If you’re after a challenge, explore the powerline track, it’ll spit you right out at an obstacle called Moon Rock that’ll give you bragging rights over your mates.
- See the Three Sisters
People travel all over the world to see the Blue Mountains, and the Three Sisters is always at the top of their bucket list. Legend has it the three stone pillars are three sisters who lived in the valley and were turned to stone to protect them from kidnap, but what we do know for sure is standing nearly 1km above sea level they’re an awe-inspiring sight and well worth the stop.
- Follow the Convict Trail
The Mountains has history dating back 10s of thousands of years if you know where to look. The highway is lined with roads and buildings dating back to the early 1800s as convicts were used to forge a path out west, but if you head a little off the beaten track there’s plenty of spots to find aboriginal sites dating back 10s of thousands of years.
- Camp by Lyell Lake
Lake Lyell to the south-west of the mountains is not only home to some of the toughest 4WDing in town, it's also a hive of water sports. Whether you choose to lock in the hubs and find a private bush spot by the lake or head to the main campgrounds with access to the boat ramp, it's a hell of a place to spend a weekend.
- Mine for Gold
The western reaches of the Blue Mountains are home to our very own wild west history, with stockades, bandits, and genuine gold rush towns. Out near the towns of Hill End and Sofala there’s still gold in the rivers so grab a pan and head for the hills. There’s plenty of mining museums in the area to help point you in the right direction.
- Go Hiking
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous park up the 4WD and fire up the Lambo-feeties for some hiking action. The towns in the Blue Mountains are typically built on top of cliffs and surrounded by bush walking tracks that’ll take you along ridge lines with endless views, or down into ancient rainforests hidden from the tourist traps.
- Visit Mount Panorama
What trip to the Blue Mountains is complete without heading to the king of all Mountains, Mt Panorama. This is where Supercheap Auto hosts the great race, The Bathurst 1000; you might have heard of it. Located just on the eastern edge of Bathurst, Mt Panorama is an open road unless racing is happening so you can load up the 4WD and do your very own lap around that sacred ground. Speed limits do apply though so maybe don't go for top speed down Conrod.
- Climb Mt Walker
If you’re after a serious 4WD challenge, Mt Walker is one of the most popular tracks at the back of Lake Lyell. It’s a steep, rocky, technically difficult climb that shouldn’t be taken on by inexperienced 4WDers but offers rewarding views at the top. Bring a winch and a locker, you’re going to need them.
How to explore it
The Blue Mountains for 4WDers really doesn't kick off till you're nearly at the top, with most of the 4-wheeled shenanigans taking place on the westerly slopes, the east is largely small villages with locked gates. Heading west from Sydney stopping in at the Lawson pie shop for an early morning feed is an absolute must-do. Then travelling through Katoomba for a few quick photo opportunities, before finally dropping down into the old mining town Lithgow where you'll find yourself endless 4WD tracks of all sorts of difficulties. From Sydney, you can easily do it in a day trip, but for best results plan on spending at least a weekend out there.
Top 4WD Tips for the Blue Mountains
- Check Fire Bans
The region is the perfect mix of hot summers and plenty of fuel so always check firebans before firing up a campfire.
- Bring a Winch
The terrain is reasonably steep and can be very low-traction – a winch might be your get out of the bog aka get out of jail free card.
- Pack Warm
Winter nights can drop below zero and snow fall does happen in the peak of winter so pack for cold nights unless it’s the middle of summer.
- Bring a good set of Tyres
The terrain in the Mountains is largely sandstone but there are large sections of sharper shale. You won’t’ necessarily need mud tyres, but the added strength of an all-terrain can prevent tyre punctures.
- Take a mate with you
While not overly isolated, the terrain can be treacherous and hilly country can make UHF communication unreliable, a second vehicle will allow you to explore deeper off the main trails safely.
Australia’s best kept secret
The Blue Mountains is possibly one of the most underrated 4WD destinations in Australia because of how accessible it is. An early settler city built in the clouds, surrounded by a world heritage listed national park, with thousands of years of aboriginal history all around, and some of the most technically challenging 4WDing you'll find in the whole country. Just pack warm gear in winter!
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