“Did you see the Three Sisters?” is the question you will be often asked by frequent visitors to Sydney after you return home from a trip to the east coast Australian city, famous for its Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Bondi Beach. You may have met Three Sisters through your family and friends in Sydney.
So what exactly is Three Sisters?
Three unique rock formations in the Blue Mountains, a mountainous region, its foothills starting at about 50 kilometres west of Sydney is called Three Sisters. Each of these rocky lumps stands at 922, 918 & 906 metres tall, respectively. That’s over 1000 metres above sea level! Wow.
According to indigenous legend they represent three tribal sisters ‘Meehni’, ‘Wimlah’ and Gunnedoo’ who fell in love with three brothers from another tribe. The native law then did not allow inter-tribal marriages. Obviously the brothers were not happy, so they used force to capture the sisters causing a major tribal battle. As the lives of the three sisters were in danger, a witchdoctor turned the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. He thought of reversing the spell after the battle. Unfortunately the witchdoctor himself got killed during the combat. Since he was the only one who restore the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters unfortunately had to remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of the battle for generations to come.
Blue Mountains with its ensemble of spectacular gorges, streaming waterfalls, enchanting mountain caves, lush rainforests and expansive tablelands and rolling valleys, is a great outdoor place any time of the year. It glows in autumn, chills in winter, bursts with colour in spring and refreshes you in summer. The domain is densely populated by oil bearing Eucalyptus trees releasing finely dispersed droplets of oil that combine with dust, vapour and sunlight to give the atmosphere a bluish haze and thus the name. An area said to be ten times older than the Grand Canyon, the Blue Mountains region was World Heritage listed in 2000, in recognition of its geographic and cultural importance.
So no visit to Sydney is complete without a trip to the iconic location, the 19th century town of Katoomba being the hub of the quarter. While wandering along its hilly streets lined with shops, cafes and restaurants one can easily imagine being in an Indian hill station site like Shimla or Mussoorie.
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There are no shortages of things to do when there, walking through bush-filled mountain paths being the most popular exercise.
The Blue Mountains National Park features more than 140 kilometres of trails and walking tracks. Visitors can choose from any of the numerous guided walks, including half and full day walks, overnight treks and wilderness hikes. There is also a Scenic Railway, said to be the steepest railway incline in the world, taking riders down a steep descent through a tunnel and the beautiful fern-damp cliff face. Adjacent to the Scenic Railway is the Scenic Cableway, the steepest aerial cable car in Australia. The Scenic Cableway offers a 545 metre ride into the World Heritage Area rainforest of the famous Jamison valley.
Enjoying the panoramic vista of the surround is obviously a prime attraction for outsiders and there are hundreds of lookouts throughout the Blue Mountains, each providing a different perspective of this breathtaking natural wonder.
The “Three Sisters” are best viewed from The Echo Point lookout in Katoomba. Experienced by millions each year, the character of the sight changes every hour as the sun moves from east to west.
Katoomba is only two hours away by rail or road from Sydney, so it can be easily done in a day. But if time permits, it’s worth spending one or two nights here to experience the best of the region with and without the sun. The “Three Sisters” under the flood lights look spectacular. There are plenty of grand hotels and budget hostels to stay, but spending time at one of Mountain Whisper’s three B&B style luxurious Edwardian cottages is highly rewarding in all respects.
Getting There – Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com) flies from major Indian cities to Sydney via Singapore. There are regular trains from Sydney’s central station to Katoomba.
Stay – Mountain Whispers (www.mountainwhispers.com.au) offers four award-winning luxury accommodation options, each ideally close to cafes, restaurants and other amenities.
Getting Around – “Hop On, Hop Off” Red buses are available to take tourists to main sites of Blue Mountains including the Three Sisters.
Scenic Railway & Cableway – Check http://www.scenicworld.com.au for details