Member of the
Cittaslow - Katoomba Blue Mountains is one of three Cittaslow towns in Australia, having won endorsement in 2007. Being declared a Cittaslow highlights the region's many unique aspects that contribute to an overall quality of life – such as the built heritage, the creative arts, engaged community, cultural diversity, eco-tourism, local economy, respect for the natural environment, civic pride, strong recycling culture and innovative work life balance.
Katoomba (postcode: 2780) is one of a ribbon of 26 towns of the City of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales which run along the Main Western Railway line and the Great Western Highway. Sitting atop the sandstone plateaux, with great valleys on either side. Katoomba is the administrative headquarters of Blue Mountains City Council and is situated 110 km (68 miles) west of Sydney. Katoomba is a 2 hour train journey from Sydney Central Station.
The City of the Blue Mountains consists of 1.03 million ha of sandstone plateaux, gorges and waterfalls dominated by temperate eucalypt forest.
Eight protected national park areas form the Greater Blue Mountains National Park, one of the largest and most intact areas of protected bushland in Australia.
The unique rock formation known as the Three Sisters, viewable from Echo Point just south of Katoomba, attracts hundreds of tourists every day.
The Blue Mountains is the traditional lands of the Darug and Gundungurra Aboriginal Nations.
Katoomba is in a World Heritage-listed area
Katoomba is well known for spectacular mountain views and extensive bush and nature walks in the surrounding Blue Mountains. Since the early 1900s bushwalking in the Blue Mountains was very popular and the strong passion of the walkers to preserve the natural environment from development led to protected areas becoming National Parks, and in 2000 the Blue Mountains became a City within a World Heritage National Park –the Greater Blue Mountains Area (GBMA)
One of the outstanding features that gained the World Heritage listing is the huge variety of eucalyptus trees - the ‘blue’ in Blue Mountains is due to the eucalyptus oil of the leaves as it evaporates.
The GBMA site includes primitive species of outstanding significance, such as the Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis), a 200 million year old plant family thought to be extinct, until it was discovered in 1994 by a bush walker.
Most of the natural bushland of the GBMA is of high wilderness quality and remains close to pristine – and attracts many Sydney-siders on weekends and school holidays.
Katoomba took its name in 1877 and was little known in history until 1879 when the Katoomba Coal Mine was opened. Coal and shale mining was carried out for many years until the early 20th century. The former mine is now the site of Scenic World, a popular tourist destination.
The first hotel in Katoomba was erected in 1882 – the Carrington Hotel is a famous landmark in Katoomba’s townscape, with its tall chimney from the days when it was a power station for the town. It underwent a complete restoration in the 1980s and is a testament to the built heritage ethos of Katoomba and the Blue Mountains.
The Hydro Majestic Hotel, in nearby Medlow Bath, was originally a health spa and has stunning views overlooking the Megalong Valley.
During the 20th century, as well as the popularity of bushwalking, Katoomba became an established resort town with many guest houses and holiday homes. From the 1960s to early 1980s Katoomba declined but since the 1980s Katoomba has been revitalised. Because its size is limited by its geography atop the plateau it still has a ‘small town’ atmosphere and strong community feel.
Katoomba’s population is just over 8,000 people.
City of the Arts
With such beauty and inspiring nature all around, is it any wonder the Blue Mountains has such a culturally creative community?
The Blue Mountains was the inaugural City of the Arts in New South Wales.
The Blue Mountains seems to attract a wide spectrum of artists from, for example, take a look at MTNS MADE a collection of designers, artists, film-makers, sculptors, actors, musicians, writers and more.
There are over 30 art galleries including the Norman Lindsay Gallery in Faulconbridge, former family home of prolific artist Norman Lindsay.
Novelist Eleanor Dark lived in Katoomba from 1923, authoring 10 novels at Varuna, their family home, which became a residential writer’s house in 1990 and attracts writers from all over the country.
Elevated at 1030 metres, Katoomba is a major tourist destination based on its mountain scenery and clean air. The Three Sisters, viewable from Echo Point, attracts four million visitors each year. Other features of the Jamison Valley visible from Echo Point include Mount Solitary and the rock formation known as the Ruined Castle.
The busy town centre, centered on Katoomba Street, features dozens of cafes and restaurants, including the historic Paragon, novelty shops, churches and antique stores. The recently built Cultural Centre with Gallery and Library has a viewing platform of the town and Jamison Valley backdrop.
The built heritage of Katoomba and villages in the Blue Mountains is a source of fascination for the variety and unique styles.
There are events big and small happening all year round for local residents, Sydney-siders and international visitors. Major events include the Blue Mountains Music Festival in March, Winter Magic Festival in June and Leura Gardens Festival in October.
See short video of tourist highlights in Katoomba and Leura.
Amongst all the things that makes Blue Mountains lifestyle enviable is the range and extent of special ‘ecohomes’. These may be conventional, funky, or alternative – but they all feature an environmental awareness and concern about fitting in to their location. These are not just ‘grand designs’ but liveable and achievable homes within our community. The Blue Mountains ECOhomes Tour opens up such homes to the public for a once-a-year opportunity to visit some – usually held in October.
The all-day bus tour seeks out unique homes that are often hidden away. Five such homes are visited and the sustainability principles behind these homes are explained on the tour.
Funds raised support Cittaslow Katoomba Blue Mountains
SLOW FOOD BLUE MOUNTAINS
Slow Food Blue Mountains (SFBM) has been thriving since 2006 under the guidance of Convivium Leader, Anne Elliott. THe Blue Mountains has local producers of wine and beer, organic meat, fruit and vegetables; artisan bakeries; fine food eateries and restaurants.
Slow Food Projects include:
- A Kitchen Garden in Every Blue Mountains Home
- Summer Harvest Festival
- Fashionista self-guided tour of pre-loved and locally produced clothing and fashion goods
- Street flower pots along Katoomba Street