• Sam Wilson

Blue Mountains Lookouts

Photographing 10 lookouts in a day - Sunrise to Sunset

Oh the beautiful Blue Mountains, how I love thee. Just so much to see and feel in this beautiful area, and there really is something spiritual and majestic that never fails to speak to me.

If it wasn’t for the bitterly cold winters I think I could live there. Seeing as I don’t, visiting two or three times a year will have to suffice.

Anyhoo, on to how I ended up getting to 10 Blue Mountains Lookouts in one day.

Back while we were still in lockdown, a workshop to photograph a lavender farm in Hartley came up. Restrictions were due to be eased by then so a few of us decided to risk that we would be allowed to travel so we booked in.

The gorgeous Blue Mountains Lavender Farm - well worth a visit

We were obviously feeling very brave and decided that we may as well make a mini-holiday out of it, so a 3hr workshop became a week staying in Katoomba. It was a bit of a risk as we booked and paid for our accommodation in advance, with fingers strongly crossed that we would be allowed to actually go.

As you do once you decide to do this you start researching things to do and photograph. There is certainly no shortage in the Blue Mountains but I was a bit concerned about my fitness, or lack thereof, so not too keen to do some of the more difficult, yet spectacular walks.

Some of the million and one (no exaggeration) of stairs from our walk in 2020

I did an amazing waterfall photography tour in 2020 where I did have this opportunity, so it was time to do something a bit different.

It can also be quite dangerous if you don’t know where you are going, so I researched things that were safe, and soon discovered there was certainly no shortage of things to fill in our week, as well as enjoy some downtime and retail therapy. Ok, also an excuse to be lazy and eat too much!

Bloody pickles on a burger - just wrong lol

We also cheated a little bit in that it’s also a holiday so we didn’t choose any that were more than a 10-15 minute walk from the car - all of these lookouts are fairly easy to access with minimal driving on dirt roads and I think it was all within around 100km from start to finish.

Hours and hours later after searching google and maps, I had our lookout day planned. I really cannot stress enough how important it is to do this planning so you do make the most of your adventures when you do get out and about.

I don’t profess to be an ‘adventurer’ at all, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to experience some pretty wonderful things. It can certainly take some searching, and talking to people, but it certainly has its rewards.

Many thanks to my personal paparazzi and driver for this day

Luckily restrictions did ease as promised and we got to have our first few days away in almost 6 months - not long for many I do understand, but for someone that normally tries to go away every month or so, this was a big deal.

There are many more than the ones I am going to include in my 10 and some of these I’ve photographed previously so will share these as well.

While it was a long day starting out at 4.30am for sunrise, and not getting back to our accommodation until after 9pm, we had plenty of coffee stops (no shortage of good coffee around here!) and even a nanna nap in the afternoon.

Still a long way to go perfecting the selfie

Echo Point (where the Three Sisters are viewed from) and Govett’s Leap were the obvious choice for sunrise, but as I’d already photographed both these locations more than once, we decided on Evan’s Lookout to start the day with and we certainly weren’t disappointed.

Here’s the list of the 10 Blue Mountains Lookouts we visited in order and I’ll provide a bit of a summary and story about each location as we go

  1. Evans Lookout

  2. Govett’s Leap

  3. George Phillip’s Lookout

  4. Jamison Lookout

  5. Wentworth Falls

  6. Princes Point

  7. Lincoln’s Rock

  8. Victoria Falls

  9. Mitchell Ridge

  10. Mount Blackheath

Evans Lookout

This is about a 15 minute drive from Katoomba, and less than a 5 minute walk from the car on an easy path.

It’s one that I’d previously visited during the day and just like every other lookout in the Blue Mountains, it provides spectacular views and something a bit different to a lot of the photos you see from Echo Point and Govett’s Leap.

As always, I'm a sucker for a good sunstar!

Many of the lookouts have small brick ‘huts’ that come with picnic tables and chairs inside - most useful if you get caught in the sometime inclement weather of the area. They have obviously been very well built as they have withstood the test of time and bushfires that ravaged the area at the end of 2019.

One of the many 'huts' spotted all over the area

Govett’s Leap

I call this the little sister of the more famous Three Sisters because it is not as famous and a little bit harder to access.

If you’ve never been there the Three Sisters are less than a minute from parking your car and truly are beautiful. BUT it truly is Govett’s Leap that is my absolute favourite.

The lookout is even closer than the Three Sisters, but there really is something about this spot that makes my heart sing. I simply cannot visit or drive through the Blue Mountains without visiting here.

One of my favourite images to date of which I have hanging on my wall

George Phillips Lookout

This was a lovely find, and I’m a bit embarrassed that I’d never known about or seen it before. You don’t even have to move your car from Govett’s Leap. Seriously just a short walk past another one of those useful huts (and toilets in case you need them), and within 5 minutes you have a view like this -

These gorgeous yellow flowers were everywhere. They are probably a weed but I don't care - just so vibrant and happy

After this it was seriously time for breakfast, but it was still early. From memory it was only about 7am and the thing with this area is that nothing offering food opens until at least 7.30. So it was back to Katoomba to wait impatiently for the waffle place to open - no judgement please, it’s the only cafe that opens at that time. Yes, there may have been healthier options, but hey, it’s a waffle place so what’s a girl to do?

Oops more food (and the best coffee that I now buy for home)

Jamison Lookout

Wentworth Falls

Prince’s Point

Belly full, it was time to move to the next lookouts, and the best thing about the next stop was that is was a 3 for 1! Jamison Lookout was less than a 2 minute walk from the car, then down to Wentworth Falls and Princes Point around 15 minutes later.

To be honest, this was probably the hardest walk we did all day (and it wasn’t really hard at all - about 15mins each way). Yes it was uphill all the way back but the stairs are very well maintained so it was just a matter of stopping once or twice for the cardio unfit, then onwards and upwards

Jamison lookout - every lookout photo shows why they are called the 'Blue' Mountains

Wentworth Falls - not the best time of day to be photographing in the harsh light, but you make the best of what you're given on the day

The above photo was two exposures blended to try and reduce the harsh light. Can you see the people over there that give a bit of sense of scale?

Princes Point - taken in 2020 on a previous visit at sunset

Lincoln’s Rock

Now this has to be the absolute gem of the day. As much as I’m ashamed that I didn't know about George Phillips, this spot was truly a find!

I had researched this beforehand of course and I was so glad I did. By this time it was the middle of the day so not spectacular for taking photos, but we did just the same. There were some clouds in the sky and I figured it was a good opportunity to play with handheld panoramas with the camera. They will never be award winning photos, but it’s not about that - it’s about enjoying where you are and recording it.

Lincolns Rock is on the left hand side where you can just hopefully see another visitor taking in the view

We ran into a lovely lady here who also spoke about her mental health and how getting out and about had helped her with her anxiety and for me that’s what it’s all about - that’s her top left in the pano photo above if you get to look close enough.

It was a nice reminder that my photography journey is not always about getting ‘amazing’ shots. It has always been about getting out there and enjoying the experiences that I would never do without having a camera in my hand.

Phone shot from Lincoln's Rock - just loved the clouds

Victoria Falls

It was time after this to head westward towards Victoria Falls. Turning right off the Great Western Highway it was pretty much a dirt road all the way until the carpark at the top.

Toilets again available up here. Thank goodness as all that coffee, and yes followed by healthy water, these are necessary!

Once again a short downhill walk to the lookout, and what a view! Another chance to try a handheld pano and thankfully there were some clouds to keep the sky a bit interesting.

This was a good day to play with taking panoramas with the camera - this is 5 images put together in Lightroom

Mitchell Ridge

Not one you will find in most guides, it is nonetheless one that is super easy once again to access and has some lovely spots to sit and enjoy some amazing views over the Kanimbla Valley.

Courtesy of the Visit NSW Website - “Mitchells Ridge Lookout is a historic lookout and rest area, named after Sir Thomas Livingston Mitchell who supervised the building of the Pass by convict labour in 1832. An obelisk at the lookout commemorates the opening of Victoria Pass in 1832. The Pass is one of the oldest and most significant engineered works in Australia still in use today.”

After this one it was time to head back to Katoomba (a whole 20 minutes away) for a nanna nap before going out again for sunset.

Mount Blackheath

An awesome end to a beautiful day. This was not the most amazing sunset as far as photography goes, but it was beautiful just the same, and spending it with a couple of lovely photographer friends made it that much more special.

Don't be fooled by the versatile mug - it's sunset so that's holding a nice cabernet lol

Disclaimer: I had a driver for this whole day so no laws were broken by having a wine at sunset.

Final Note

Please bear in mind that this is not even scratching the surface of the lookouts in this area - but they are the easiest to get to, and each and everyone is beautiful in it’s own right.

That’s it for now -

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