When one thinks of a trip Down Under the first things that come to mind are sun, beach, koalas and kangaroos.

There is much more to discover on this island continent than what lies on the coastline. If you are planning a trip to Australia and will be spending some time in the Sydney area, perhaps consider a slight detour to the Blue Mountains.

BThis majestic range is situated along the borders of the greater Sydney area, making it a 90-minute drive from the centre of the city. This region is named after the bluish haze in the air, given off by droplets of eucalyptus from the trees grow everywhere in this area. The best way to access the Blue Mountains is with your own rental vehicle because there is much to explore. However; there are also many tours, buses, trains and daytrips available.

A Westward drive will take you to Katoomba, the main stopping point for the Blue Mountains. From here, you can take in views of the main attraction, The Three Sisters at Echo Point in Katoomba. These incredible rocky peaks jut up into the blue sky and the Aboriginals believe the unusual formations are in fact three sisters who were turned to stone. The character and color of the Sisters changes with the light as the sun reflects and refracts on the rocks, creating different light and shadow. Once you’ve spent some time taking in the view it’s time to put on your hiking shoes and get out into the Australian Bush.

After a scenic stop in Katoomba and Echo Point, head to small town of Leura. While Katmooba may have the main vantage point, Leura has tons of great cafes, shops and trails to explore. Leura is where old-world meets new and trendy. At this time of year, the tree-lined streets are bursting with pink cherry blossoms. While the leaves may be turned gold and red in the Northern Hemisphere, down South it’s spring time and the flowers are amazing.

From Leura there are some spectacular trails to explore. Try the Wentworth Falls trail which takes hikers past a magnificent waterfall, Wentworth Falls, down into a deep canyon and all the way back up to Leura. In total, your on foot journey should take you about one to two hours, ability dependant. There are a number of stairs to tackle on this journey so be prepared for some climbing. The reward is not only the stunning, tiered falls but also a great workout for your behind. At the end, pop in to the Leura Garage Cafe for fresh and inspired eats.

A short drive from Leura you will find the small town of Wentworth Falls. Although tiny, Wentworth Falls offers two great treasures of the area, a wonderful hike, the Charles Darwin Walk and a spectacular restaurant, nineteen23. Charles Darwin Walk walked this trail in 1836 and was as inspired as you will be by the wonderful nature around. A relativity easy walk, hikers follow the Jamison Creek to the top of Wentworth Falls where a brilliant view of the Jamison Valley awaits. There are many cool waterfalls to admire and the green, lush, swamp is home to incredible bird life. Keep on the lookout for black cockatoos, honey eaters, finches and more.

After all that fresh mountain air a great meal is in order. Located in Silvermere, nineteen23 strives to provide diners with impeccable, regional cuisine without being overpriced. A variety of degustation menus is on offer as well as a la carte. The food is always wonderful and the service, amazing. With an ever-changing menu to match the seasons and keep up with new and interesting food trends, nineteen23 is a hidden gem. Ask for a table near the window and you will be happily surprised with views of Sydney in the distance.

Created by Lynn May Gosselin