Gundungurra people knew and travelled through the area of Blackheath before the Europeans came. The town grew from the 1830s as a resting place for travellers over the Blue Mountains, first by road and then by rail after 1868. Land sales in the 1880s led to population growth, and growing interest in walking tracks spurred development in the early twentieth century, when Blackheath became a holiday town.
Built on the traditional land of the Gundungurra people, the settlement on the western road over the mountains was a lonely outpost until the 1870s when it was named Katoomba and became a mining and tourist town. With the advent of the motor car, Katoomba became even more popular with holiday makers and honeymooners, as well as residents willing to commute to Sydney by train.
Part of the vanished mine heritage of Katoomba, John Britty North's tramway hauled coal and shale from the Megalong valley along an extensive tramway system of which today's Scenic Railway is only a small part.
Dharug country for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived in the area in 1813, Leura's early development was based on the railway that passed over the mountains in 1867. By the 1880s large houses were being built there, and tourism boomed in the 1900s. Leura's gardens, trees, views and heritage buildings make it a popular tourist destination.
Inaccessible to Europeans until the 1860s, the forested area later called Mount Wilson was known to Aboriginal people for generations. The building of the Zigzag railway to Lithgow made Mount Wilson suddenly less remote and land sales coincided with the opening of the railway station. The fertile soil and cool climate attracted gardeners and bushwalkers, and it became a summer retreat for the wealthy, with caretakers living there the rest of the year.
Dharug and Gundungurra people left many markers of their use of Sun Valley, from art to toolmaking grooves. Europeans first came in 1813, and the valley was used as a resting place while crossing the mountains for decades afterwards. Farming and market gardening also took place, along with timber-getting. Since the 1960s inhabitants of small farmlets have formed a rural community.
Long home to the Darug and Gundungurra people, the place that became Lawson was renamed for one of the first Europeans to cross the Blue Mountains. It subsequently became important as a stopping place on the road west, and a holiday destination for Sydneysiders.
The Woodford Academy, a National Trust property at Woodford, is the oldest surviving group of buildings in the Blue Mountains and one of the largest nineteenth century inn complexes in Australia. Starting as an inn in 1834, the buildings have been adapted and repurposed as a gentleman's country retreat, tourist guesthouse, school, and home, ensuring their survival and the preservation of a multilayered history.
Darwin's Walk starts from Wilson Park Wentworth Falls and runs across a boardwalk and bush track through open forest, shrub, and hanging swamps to the national park boundary. It was in the valley at the end of Jamison Creek that Charles Darwin stood in 1836, struggling for words to describe the 'quite novel' scene before him, the 'immense gulf' and the 'absolutely vertical' sandstone cliffs where 'a person standing on the edge and throwing down a stone, can see it strike the trees in the abyss below'.
Situated in Gundungurra and Darug country, Echo Point emerged as a major tourist destination in the 1920s and today attracts around 1.4 million visitors a year. Combining a 'holiday playground' atmosphere with the sublime, Echo Point is a compelling site for thinking about the many different ways of seeing that have shaped the Blue Mountains landscape: Indigenous, Romantic, commercial and environmental.
Lockleys Pylon, located in Darug country north of Leura, is a rock formation on top of Du Faur Buttress, 600 metres above the floor of the Grose Valley. The 360-degree view from the pylon take in the Illawarra and Sydney, mounts Hay, Banks and Tomah, the Darling Causeway, Hat Hill, Govetts Leap and the Fortress Ridge, as well as the mountains villages in between.With sites of significance to the Gundungurra and Wiradjuri close by, Lockleys Pylon looks down on to the iconic Blue Gum Forest, a haunt for bushwalkers and birth place of the Australian conservation movement. It was named by conservationists in honour of the supportive Sydney Morning Herald journalist JG '˜Redgum' Lockley
The Hydro Majestic hotel snakes for over a kilometre along the escarpment overlooking the Megalong and Kanimbla valleys. The grand vision of wealthy entrepreneur Mark Foy, the Hydro opened as an exclusive luxury hotel renowned for its opulence, fine food and entertainments. Over the decades it has undergone many transformations, updating its decor and amenities to suit changing tastes. After an extended period of decline, a revitalised Hydro reopened in 2014.