On Sydney’s door step, the mystique of the Blue Mountains is a magnet for day-trippers and weekenders alike. With plenty of accessible activities and accommodation we think the Blue Mountains should be a must-visit for everyone. I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve visited the region so I thought it was about time we put together a Blue Mountains wheelchair accessible guide.
When I was a child, each birthday I’d request to go to the Blue Mountains to celebrate. My birthday is in June so it was cold and usually resulted in me having my birthday cake in the car. It was impossible to light candles in the wind and cold. Nevertheless I’ve always loved the Blue Mountains and when I need to rejuvenate and catch my breath, it’s just over an hour’s drive from home. Looking out at the vast mountain ranges, filled with birdlife and without a building in sight, is good for the soul. It’s hard to explain the allure of the Blue Mountains, you’ll just have to visit. We’ve tested everything on this round-up list and popped it into a Blue Mountains wheelchair accessible travel guide to help you plan a day trip or holiday.
BLUE MOUNTAINS WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE GUIDE
A Blue Mountains family favourite!
There are three ‘rides’ or attractions at Scenic World Katoomba, all of which can be enjoyed with an unlimited pass. Two of the three experiences are wheelchair accessible. The Cableway, has a wheelchair accessible area at the front which offers the best views of the Three Sisters and the Jamison Valley.
The Skyway floats you straight across the Jamison Valley instead, and is also fully wheelchair accessible. You can look out across to Katoomba Falls and Mount Solitary. There is a small step up to the glass flooring, but you can peek through it from the right side of the cable car.
The steepest aerial cable car in the Southern Hemisphere, the cableway transports you down 545 metres into the Jamison Valley however you do need be able to walk down several stairs to give this one a go. BJ has done it but even though he can negotiate the stairs he finds it hard to sit when the railway gets to its steepest point.
At the base of the rainforest, follow the wheelchair accessible boardwalk past the old Katoomba mine.
You can read our full review and information on Scenic World here.
THE THREE SISTERS – ECHO POINT
On top of every visitor’s list is seeing the Three Sisters from Echo Point. Over the years the area has been transformed into a beautiful accessible lookout.
The lookout has recently undergone another facelift and is even more accessible than before. We visited on a rather misty day, which although atmospheric, obscured the view of the Three Sisters. As we’ve seen the Three Sisters so many times we didn’t mind. The many moods of the mountains is what keeps me returning.
Thanks to Andrew Hewitt, for sharing a photo of the new walkway on a non-misty visit he had recently.
THREE SISTERS WALK
Starting at the Information Centre at Echo Point, this walk has a wide concrete path and great views of the famous Three Sisters. Part of the walk is steep, so you may need assistance or a power wheelchair to make it back to the top. Popular with tourist crowds, expect parking to be busy. You can read our review and full details of this walk and our tip on accessible parking here.
GOVETTS LEAP & FAIRFAX HERITAGE ACCESSIBLE WALKING TRACK
Our other favourite lookout is Govetts Leap Blackheath, where you’ll also find the lovely accessible Fairfax Heritage Walking Track.
The Fairfax Heritage Walking Track takes around 30-45 minutes depending on your speed and winds through the beautiful Blue Mountains bush via a concrete path
WENTWORTH FALLS LOOKOUT
When BJ was little we walked to the base of the waterfall to show him this gorgeous spot. Hubby had BJ in a back carrier and although a bit of a push on the way back up the many, many stairs, we made it.
Now that he’s older we take in the view from the lookout at the top.
On a clear day the views are stunning. It’s a 300 metre walk or wheel from the car park to the accessible viewing platforms. Accessible parking is available.
WENTWORTH FALLS LAKE
If you’re looking for a pretty spot for a picnic, somewhere to meet friends or a place for the kids to play, then Wentworth Falls Lake is a great pick.
Accessible paths, parking and bathrooms make this a good accessible picnic spot on a warm day. If you don’t feel like being bothered packing food, drop in at the wheelchair accessible Mountain High Pies around the corner. You’ll be able to grab a choice of quiche, pies of all varieties and some delicious desserts. Mountain High Pies has parking on site and an accessible bathroom.
BLUE MOUNTAINS CULTURAL CENTRE
It’s always good to have an indoor activity up your sleeve in case of rain or to escape the winter chill for a while. The Blue Mountains Cultural Centre is a beautiful accessible space.
While I like to see the changing exhibitions, the kids love the interactive ‘Into the Blue’ (the Blue Mountains World Heritage Interpretive Centre) exhibition which explores the unique area.
There’s a small admission fee to the gallery and the Into the Blue Exhibition.
You can read more on the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre website.
THE CAMPBELL RHODODENDRON GARDEN, BLACKHEATH
We’ve visited the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens in Blackheath several times. My garden-loving Mum just loved it. Azalea and Rhododendrons are planted amongst the native eucalypts and bushland and tended to by volunteers. From mid-September to November the Azaleas and Rhododendrons are spectacular. The gardens are open year round.
The gardens are paved but steep in portions. Power wheelchair users and people using scooters will have no problem. Entry is free though a donation is encouraged. Accessible parking is available.
BLUE MOUNTAINS BOTANIC GARDENS
The lovely gardens at Mount Tomah are on a hillside. The views are stunning but it does mean it’s difficult for manual wheelchair users. Scooters are available to loan with a deposit and ID but bookings are recommended. Entry to the gardens is free, and while some areas have limited wheelchair access, it is the perfect spot for a picnic.
A wheelchair accessible garden trolley tour usually operates daily (it’s currently not operating due to Covid-19 restrictions) providing guests with a 20 minute guided tour. It allows for a person to remain in a wheelchair and is $12 per person. Contact the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens to check if it’s operating when you wish to visit. The gardens are at their best in autumn and spring, with spring my favourite season for the blossoms.
Wheelchair accessible parking is available, though popular. The car park is large enough on most occasions to find alternative parking with space on the side or behind. An accessible unisex stand-alone bathroom is available inside the visitors centre.
In autumn there’s no better place to see nature’s spectacular colours than with a visit to Mount Wilson. Combining Mount Wilson with a visit to Katoomba and Leura makes for a wonderful day trip from Sydney.
Just make sure you pack some warm clothes, it’s sure to be chilly.
We enjoy visiting Bilpin for the fruit picking and the fresh mountain air. As soon as we are approaching the area I wind down my car window to listen to the bell birds. It’s a beautiful sound and immediately makes me feel I’ve left the city behind. A good day trip for us is a combination of fruit picking and a visit to the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens.
Eating out in Bilpin
The fresh air and fruit picking always makes us hungry. If you’re looking for a quick takeaway pie or sweet treat, head to the Grumpy Baker. Parking is available out front but be warned the store is tiny but the pies are delicious.
If you’re looking to dine in, try the wheelchair accessible Pie in the Sky for pies, sweet treats and drinks. Ramp access is available.
Tutti Fruitti Cafe was always one of our favourite spots for devonshire tea but it was destroyed in the bushfires a year ago. It’s recently reopened and from what I can see online, it looks accessible. I’m hoping to return soon to find out for myself.
BLUE MOUNTAINS WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE ACCOMMODATION
Lilianfels is suited both to families and to a grand weekend for the grown-ups. Spacious accessible accommodation is conveniently located near the foyer, but still feels private and quiet. All light switches in the rooms have been lowered, beds are at a great transfer height and the bathroom has grab rails, a shower chair and handheld shower. You don’t have to stay overnight. We love visiting the restaurant too. You can read our review and see all the photos here.
This is our favourite hotel in the Blue Mountains so far. Set in peaceful bushland and lush gardens, we were awoken at the Fairmont by frogs and kookaburras. Three accessible rooms sit on the ground floor, with verandah access, garden views and accessible bathroom features. Kids are catered for with the Fairmont Express miniature train operating on weekends and school holidays, the Mirror Maze Arcade, bowling alley, Dane’s Room and Magic Kingdom. The Fairmont Hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool. An the food is delicious at Jamison’s Restaurant, so even if you don’t stay at the hotel, it’s a good spot for high tea, lunch or dinner. You can see photos of an accessible room and read more about the hotel in our review.
BLUE MOUNTAINS ACCESSIBLE DINING
Cafe 92 at Conservation Hut
Cafe 92 at Conservation Hut at Wentworth Falls rates highly in our family for its scenic outdoor verandah and large wheelchair accessible bathroom. There is only one designated wheelchair parking spot in the adjacent car park, so you may need to park further down the street. Pretty much everything on the menu is delicious but BJ is a fan of the scones. We’ve visited for breakfast, lunch and dinner (when it’s open for dinner).
Gingerbread House, Katoomba
This spot is one of our faves to visit as a family. It’s a little like entering a Willy Wonka fantasy land.
And although the cafe is housed in an old church, it’s fully accessible with wheelchair access in the front and rear of the cafe. Accessible stand-alone male and female bathrooms are available, as is accessible parking.
Inside the cafe you’ll find a sweets overload with all manner of treats to buy and takeaway. We enjoy eating in with toasties our family’s favourite, followed by scones, carrot cake and chocolate cake for dessert. We visit the cafe each visit and it never disappoints.
You can research your visit and get your taste buds ready by checking out the Gingerbread House website.
High Tea at Lilianfels, Katoomba
If you’re looking for an elegant setting and extra special experience while visiting the Blue Mountains, then a high tea at Lilianfels is for you. I’ve treated my Mum to the high tea for her birthday and AJ and her friend to the children’s high tea. It was a winner on both visits.
You can read more about our visits to Lilianfels in this review.
Carrington Hotel, Katoomba
There are lots of stairs at the entryway of the historic Carrington Hotel Katoomba, but those in the know can pop in via the wheelchair entrance around the garage side. Just ring the bell! On a cold day there’s nothing better than heading into the historic Carrington Hotel’s bar. The bar menu is satisfying and service is quick to allow plenty of time for exploring the outdoors once you’ve fuelled and warmed up.
For planning and research you can check out the Carrington Hotel website.
Fresh takeaway pastries from Bakehouse on Wentworth make great picnic food. There is a bakery at Glenbrook (wheelchair accessible), Leura (has a few stairs down into the store) and Blackheath (wheelchair accessible) We never leave the Blue Mountains without taking some pies home from here. I’m also a big fan of the middle eastern bread, it’s choc full of fruit.
Carrington Cellars and Deli
Located in the old Katoomba power station, the Carrington Cellars and Deli is the place to stop for gourmet picnic treats, a nice bottle of wine and regional cheeses and products.
Carrington Cellars and Deli offers step-free entry and accessible parking beside the entrance.
Josophan’s Chocolates & Treats
If you’re looking for a special treat to take home, or a gift for friends or family, then Josophan’s is a must-visit. We all have our favourites and usually return with a small gift for my parents.
Hubby loves the hot chocolate and the chocolate cake with chilli.
Josophan’s Chocolates has a small step to negotiate to enter the building. We can bump BJ’s chair up a small step so I’m including it for those that can manage.
KATOOMBA’S STREET ART WALK
With a street art loving teenager in the family this is one spot we’ve only recently visited. The Street Art Walk displays world standard street art from all aerosol disciplines. International, national and local artists are given the opportunity to paint murals in Beverly Place in Katoomba.
Although we walked down the street with BJ’s wheelchair the roadway isn’t smooth. You may find it easier to drive through to appreciate the artworks.
A SPECIAL STORE FOR KIDS AND THOSE WHO ARE KIDS AT HEART
When AJ was young her room was overtaken with cuddy friends of all varieties. Nana’s Teddies therefore was a dangerous stop with our gal. The only problem was how to choose just one friend to take home. The store has a range of rare and collectible teddies and toys that will boggle the mind.
The store is wheelchair accessible and parking is onsite.
Take a look at what Nana’s Teddies & Toys online to plan your visit.
ACCESSIBLE BATHROOM FACILITIES IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
A Changing Places facility is located at Echo Point which is equipped with a hoist, adult-size change table and grab rails.
The room is enormous, the toilet is fitted with arm rests and a seat back. A MLAK key is required to enter.
Other stand-alone accessible bathrooms (these are regular stand-alone unisex bathrooms) are located in Leura in the car park and in the mall near Woolworths in Leura. An accessible unisex stand-aone bathroom is located near the park at Glenbrook.
DRIVING AROUND THE MOUNTAINS
I never take the direct route when driving around the mountains. Taking Cliff Drive instead of the highway will ensure you see some lovely views right from the car.
On our last visit we discovered Cahill’s Lookout. Although the walk is steep you don’t need to do it to enjoy the views. There’s accessible parking, a short ramp and an accessible picnic table to enjoy.
TRANSPORT IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
Sightseeing in the Blue Mountains is spread out, so it’s easier if you can self-drive to tour around. You can catch a train from Central Station in Sydney to Katoomba or Leura but once in the area there are no fully accessible touring options I know of.
An accessible taxi may be a good option if you are looking for point-to-point transportation. Luckily one of our Have Wheelchair Will Travel community members has a maxi-taxi so I have a contact to share [email protected] and the phone number direct to the driver is 0423890670.
The historic town of Hartley is a little further than most Sydney day-trippers venture but it’s perfect for a weekend getaway. We stayed in a historic cottage which is accessible and put all the details of where we stayed and what we did in a review on the area, which you can read here.
While we haven’t stayed in Lithgow, we did review an accessible hotel option while visiting Hassan’s Wall Lookout.
You can read about the excellent accessible accommodation at Lithgow Workies here.
OBERON BLUE MOUTAINS
We’ve had three lovey stays in Oberon. We’ve used it as a base to go sightseeing further afield in Bathurst and enjoyed visiting Mayfield Gardens for their spring festival. The gardens are stunning and in spring the surrounding fields are a briliant yellow with canola
You can read our review of Mayfield Garden here.
KANANGRA WALL LOOKOUT
We also ventured out to Kanangra Walls Lookout in the National Park and did the accessible walk. The view was well worth the trip and unlike many lookouts in the Blue Mountains, we had it all to ourselves. On the drive to the lookout we had the thrill of seeing kangaroos grazing, wombats wandering and an echidna ambling along. There’s nothing I love more than seeing wildlife in it’s natural surroundings.
WHEN TO GO
I don’t think there’s a bad time to visit the Blue Mountains. Layering your clothing and making sure you have plenty of warm options is recommended. The Blue Mountains does receive a dusting of snow most years, but if you are thinking of hopping in the car on reports of snow in the Blue Mountains, be warned, it will more than likely have melted before you get there. And we can report the traffic jams on snow days are not for the faint hearted. Summer days can be hot, particularly if you are doing walks.
I’m so happy we live close enough to enjoy this gorgeous part of Australia whenever we like. If you haven’t visited before, I hope this convinces you to add the Blue Mountains to your must-see list. And for those that have visited, I hope there’s something new on this list to lure you back.
We are, as always, keen to hear of anything we’ve missed. I’m sure locals must have a few spots that they could share? Or maybe you’d prefer to keep it secret.