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Katoomba is a lively town in the Blue Mountains, known for its thriving art scene, great cafés and, above all, surrounding natural beauty. The Three Sisters are located on the southern edge of town, where they draw thousands of admirers each year.
The Three Sisters is the reason why most people come to Katoomba: an impressive limestone formation set against the backdrop of the Jamison Valley and distant mountains. Echo Point is the most popular lookout spot and also has a visitor’s information centre - but don’t expect to be the only one there.
If you’d like to try something a little more adventurous (but not too difficult), the Prince Henry Cliff Walk is a cliff-side walk that winds its way past the Three Sisters and a dozen other fantastic lookouts of the Jamison Valley. It's a bit too busy to feel like it's off the beaten track, but it's also easier than some of the other walks around, such as Federal Pass and Dardanelles Pass, both of which require you to descend into the Jamison Valley. The descent isn't the hard part - it's the walk back up that will test you. But if you are a capable hiker and are willing to spend about half a day doing the walk (both are estimated to take 3 hours), the walks are very rewarding, as they afford views of the Three Sisters from below (Federal Pass), lead through the lush Leura Forest (Dardanelles Pass) and basically offer a good way to get away from the crowds and enjoy nature's serenity.
Don’t be fooled by the Coles and KMart: Katoomba main street (Katoomba Street) boasts a surprising number of fashion, antique and second-hand bookshops. The street isn’t long, but you could easily spend a day there! Alternatively, if Katoomba’s offering of shops hasn’t satisfied you, maybe Leura’s will. It’s pretty similar stuff, with some great bookshops, antique shops and a number of art galleries featuring work by local artists. Leura is located within walking distance of Katoomba.
You can get to Katoomba by train from Sydney. The journey is about two hours and costs $12 per person (one way). This same train also passes through most of the other main towns in the Blue Mountains, including Leura, Mount Victoria, Blackheath and Wentworth Falls. The famous Indian Pacific stops here as well.
To get to Katoomba by car from Sydney, follow the signs for Parramatta and join the M4 Motorway, which turns into the Great Western Highway in Lapstone. The drive takes about 90 minutes. The Great Western Highway continues past Katoomba, heading north to Lithgow, where it branches to the west and north.
There are a number of bus services that offer day trips from Sydney to Katoomba and other spots in the Blue Mountains. Most of these run from Circular Quay.
Katoomba may not be large, but it is hilly. If you’re planning to get around by foot, bear in mind that walking can be tough. Much depends on how close your accommodation is to the main town centre. If you’re particularly unfit or have young children, consider driving to Katoomba. Otherwise, there are plenty of taxis around town.
The roads around Katoomba are quite good and provide easy access to the Three Sisters and neighbouring towns. Cliff Drive is on the south side of town, winding along the edge of the cliff and past Echo Point.
There are a few places that hire out bicycles, but these aren’t cheap: expect to pay about $60 AUD for a day. Given that Katoomba and surrounds are quite hilly, you’ll also find it fairly tough riding unless you’re quite fit.
For a small town, there are some really great cafés and restaurants in Katoomba. Try any of the cafés along the main street, or check out some of the Mediterranean-themed restaurants along Bathurst Rd, near the railway station.
Katoomba is popular amongst families and honeymooners, so there are a lot of cottages, apartments, houses and bed & breakfasts around the town that are hired out. By no means is it the cheapest option, but if you have the money to spend and are looking for homely accommodation, it’s worth it.
Otherwise, there is a YHA at the northern end of Main Street and a few other budget options around the town centre.
The Blue Mountains actually produce some great local wines, which you can pick up at a small bottle shop on the southern end of Main Street. If you’re less of a wine person and more of a beer fan, try the Carrington Pub, also on Main Street.
Temperatures in Katoomba are usually about 5-10 °C colder than Sydney, so bear that in mind if you’re planning to visit any time other than summer.
|Avg Max||23.5 °C||22.3 °C||20.2 °C||17 °C||13.6 °C||10.4 °C||9.7 °C||11.4 °C||14.8 °C||17.6 °C||19.6 °C||22.1 °C|
|Avg Min||13 °C||13 °C||11.3 °C||8.8 °C||6.4 °C||3.7 °C||2.6 °C||3.2 °C||5.4 °C||7.6 °C||9.6 °C||11.5 °C|
|Rainfall||143.5 mm||192.6 mm||154.1 mm||128 mm||105 mm||86.8 mm||70.8 mm||94.4 mm||72.6 mm||103.1 mm||134.9 mm||114.3 mm|
There are a few places where you can pay to get on connected computers. At the station end of Katoomba Street there is a small bookshop that has a few computers; the Video Ezy across from Coles also has computers where you pay according to how long you use the computer.
Free wifi is getting more and more common (either with or without a code) in places like restaurants, some bars and coffee places and hotels. Sometimes a fee is required.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Australia is on a GSM 900/1800 network, so if you have an unlocked phone that works on those frequencies, you will be able to buy a prepaid SIM-card and stick into your phone when you're in Australia. You will receive a new Australian phone number with the SIM-card.
To dial out of Australia use the prefix 0011, followed by the calling code of the country you are trying to reach, followed by the area code of the city/town (without the 0!) and finally the phone number.
Within Australia, it is necessary to add an area code to the phone numbers if you are calling from outside the area. Below are Australia's area codes:
000 is the emergency telephone number in Australia, but the international GSM mobile emergency telephone number 112 also works on mobile phones.
Australia Post is the government's postal service. Most suburbs will have at least one post office. Opening times are mostly from around 8:00 or 9:00am to 5:00pm though larger ones keep longer hours sometimes. A standard letter or postcard sent within Australia will cost $0.60. Internationally, it costs $1.70 to send postcards anywhere in the world. Letters cost $1.85 to send within the Asia Pacific region and $2.60 to anywhere else in the world.. It is also possible to send things as parcels or by express mail. You can also use use private courier companies like TNT, UPS or DHL as they are competitive and reliable.
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