Discover where to stop, where to eat and the secret spots on a daytrip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains.

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It’s Sydney’s backyard wilderness; a playground for hikers, climbers and antiques fossickers. Once encountered, the rugged beauty of the one-million-hectare World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains is never forgotten, whether it’s the cascading Wentworth Falls (“exceedingly well worth visiting”, wrote a young Charles Darwin in 1836) or the charming towns of Leura and Katoomba that smooth the rough edges of the ranges.

So here’s the plan of attack. Go west. Drive along the M4 motorway through the lowlands of Sydney’s outer urban sprawl, gradually ascending through the picturesque towns of Faulconbridge and Hazelbrook, to arrive at the treelined streets of Leura. At a crisp-climate elevation of 985 metres, the town feels a million miles from the big smoke but it’s only a 90-minute drive – time enough to visit its antiques stores then grab a coffee and refuel with stone-baked pizza at the laid-back Leura Garage (84 Railway Parade, Leura), a former mechanic’s workshop converted into an eatery.

After saying a double thank you to the gods of motoring and Italian food, it’s time to head for the Blue Mountains’ natural attractions. A short drive through nearby Katoomba will deliver you to Echo Point, the best place to see the Three Sisters – the famous serrated sandstone trio – against an incredible backdrop of sweeping bluegum forests carpeting the Jamison Valley, touched by golden light and that blue haze.

Take the glass-floored Scenic Skyway (2 Violet Street, Katoomba), Australia’s highest cable car, for the 720-metre journey across the valley.

Back in your vehicle, continue about seven kilometres north, through Katoomba, to the end of Minni Ha Ha Road, where you can begin the bushwalk to Minnehaha Falls and the swimming hole at its base – one of the Blue Mountains’ best-kept secrets.

This 90-minute round trip covers 1.3 kilometres of medium-grade walking track that wends past greenery clinging vertiginously to the rock face (little wonder they’re known as “hanging swamps”) and finishes at a clear, deep pool surrounded by sandstone cliffs. In the winter months, take a dip if you dare.

Grab a coffee for the road

Kingswood Coffee

It shares the name of an Australian motoring legend and this supersmart café takes its fuel very seriously. A coffee nerd’s paradise.

Shop 10, 680 George Street, Sydney

Pick up your car

Avis World Square

395 Pitt Street, Sydney; (02) 8255 1616

Earn 4 Qantas Points per AU$1 spent on Avis car hire

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