Named after the blue haze that cloaks the region—which some link to oil droplets from the multitude of eucalyptus trees—the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area is a staggering 2.5-million-acre swath of sandstone canyons, cliffs, and tablelands, just a few hours west of Sydney. The Blue Mountains are a stronghold of natural and cultural values, from Aboriginal rock art caves and relics of early industry to rare plants and animals, including the glossy black cockatoo and the wollemi pine, a descendant of a 200-million-year-old tree family. For a day hike, you can’t beat the National Pass, which takes in deep canyon views and three waterfalls. Adventurers can also rock climb, abseil, mountain bike, or endure the 28-mile Six Foot Track.

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Canyoning and Rappelling in the Blue Mountains

I spent 10 days in Australia as part of a longer trip around the world and found myself on a three-day camping trip in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, with a new friend I found through Gumtree, an Aussie rideshare site. The last day, we hooked up with the good folks at Blue Mountains Adventure and went on a day-long abseiling (rappelling) and canyoning trip. I had never been canyoning before and did not have a ton of experience rock climbing, but I’m generally the type of person who will try anything once. After a day of climbing up and down a few rock faces and wading through slot canyons, the trip culminated with an abseil down the face of Empress Falls and a backwards flip into the pool below. The whole experience was exhilarating—and not just because the water was freezing. I was so glad to have had such a fun, new experience with good people in a beautiful place.

Mesmerizing View of the Blue Mountains in Australia

Are my eyes playing a trick on me or do the mountains appear blue? Because of the abundant eucalyptus trees growing here, it creates a blue haze over the mountain making it appear blue. Talk about a natural wonder.

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