Blue Mountains National Park is situated on 245,929 hectares and
is located approximately 100 kilometres west of Sydney. The Blue
Mountains - so called because of the blue haze created by the eucalyptus
oil in the air above the mountain gum forests - are a natural wonderland.
From lookouts on the edges of the Blue Mountains National Park,
cliffs fall away towards blue ridges broken by waterfalls that plunge
into bowls of gum trees or narrow ravines. It’s those forests,
more than anything else, which make the area so special.
The Greater Blue Mountains have been listed on the World Heritage
register. Sites selected for World Heritage listing are approved
on the basis of their merits as the best possible examples of the
cultural and natural heritage. The World Heritage List draws attention
to the wealth and diversity of the Earth's cultural and natural
It makes Sydney the only major city in the world to have such a
large, internationally protected wilderness as a neighbour.
Blue Mountains National Park is part of the massive Greater Blue
Mountains World Heritage Area. The area, which was inscribed on
the World Heritage list in December 2000, covers one million hectares
– around twice the size of Brunei. Half of it is wilderness.
The Blue Mountains have been described as a natural laboratory for
the evolution of eucalypts. In the mountains’ diverse plant
communities, you can trace the changing nature of the Australian
environment – from geological shifts and climate variations,
through to the impact of Aboriginal settlement and European colonisation.
More than ninety different eucalypt species are found in the Greater
Blue Mountains – some 13 per cent of all eucalypt species
in the world. They grow in a great variety of communities, from
tall closed forests, through open forests and woodlands, to the
stunted mallee shrublands on the plateaus. Among them are rare species
like Baeuerlen’s gum.
There are over 1300 species of flowering plants here, including
more than 100 species of ground orchids. The park is particularly
well known for its outstanding diversity of eucalyptus and acacia
trees. It protects around 65 of Australia’s threatened plant
species – some of them found only in the Blue Mountains region.
More than 700 Aboriginal sites have been recorded in Blue Mountains
National Park – but, given the park’s rough terrain,
many more remain undiscovered. The sites include rock engravings,
axe grinding grooves, and cave paintings and stencils.