Views for All

 

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Image: Simone Cottrell/DPE

Some of the Blue Mountains most iconic lookouts have been revamped, making the incredible vistas accessible to everyone.

By Julie Miller

For nearly a century, adventurers, romantics and those simply with an appreciation of the wonders of nature have gazed out over the breathtaking Blue Mountains landscape from strategically-placed lookouts such as Echo Point, Govetts Leap and Evans Lookout. But while millions of people have appreciated these safe portals to the wilderness, the needs of some visitors were largely ignored in days gone by, with accessibility limited due to steep steps and often rough footing.

After extensive refurbishment - or with construction well underway –, some of the Blue Mountain’s most iconic views are now able to be enjoyed by all, with new wheelchair accessible pathways and ramps, upgraded car parking and larger viewing platforms enhancing the visitor experience.

Prince of Wales Lookout, Echo Point, Katoomba

The latest enhancement to the lookout at Echo Point gazing towards the iconic Three Sisters is the Prince of Wales platform, an all-access, night-lit boardwalk extension that offers the closest view of the comely rock formation. Defying gravity above the Jamison Valley, the viewpoint is part of a new Gathering Place, where traditional owners can tell their stories and share the significance of this sacred part of Country with the world.

Evans Lookout, Blackheath

Completed in late 2022, Evans Lookout is now accessed via a wheelchair and stroller-friendly pathway, which winds down from a new carpark to the fenced platform overlooking the Grose Valley. This is also one of the entry points to the iconic Grand Canyon circuit, with a 2nd carpark created for hikers a kilometre further up Evans Lookout Road. As well as the new pathway, the site also boasts new toilet facilities, interpretive signage and landscaping, while the original stone picnic shelters have retained the charm of yesteryear.

Govetts Leap, Blackheath

Due to open in April 2023, construction is well underway for the refurbished Govetts Leap Lookout, which will feature wheelchair accessible pathways, a redesigned carpark and mini-bus drop-off, a new picnic area and upgraded facilities. A large new landscaped terrace will invite visitors to relax and absorb the incredible views over the Grose Valley; while universal access to the nearby Blue Mountains Heritage Centre via the wheelchair-friendly Fairfax Heritage Track will also be improved. From the lookout over Grose Valley, you can take the all-access Fairfax Walking Track to the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre; or lace up your hiking boots to tackle the spectacular Clifftop Walk to Evans Lookout.

Jamison and Wentworth Lookouts, Wentworth Falls

The upgraded Wentworth Falls Lookout area is now fully accessible from the carpark, with a flat pathway linking Jamison and Wentworth Lookouts. With information signs and comfy bench seating available, this is a great place to absorb the majesty and enormity of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

Valley of the Waters Lookout, Wentworth Falls

The gateway to several iconic walking tracks and the popular Empress Falls, the Valley of the Waters, one of several entries into Blue Mountains National Park at Wentworth Falls, has reopened after extensive refurbishment. Improvements include extended car parking, a universally-accessible pathway to the Conservation Hut cafe, and a new viewing deck takes in views across the Jamison Valley to Mount Solitary. A new accessible toilet block also includes change-room facilities for canyoners. Note that the Café is currently closed.

Hargraves Lookout, Shipley Plateau, via Blackheath

The Blue Mountains City Council is also doing its bit for accessibility, with the recent half-million dollar makeover of Hargraves Lookout near Blackheath a great example. Now boasting new platforms, paving, fencing, an accessible ramp and facilities, this lovely quiet viewpoint gazes across the bucolic twin valleys of Megalong and Kanimbla, with the escarpment exploding with colour as the sun dips below the horizon.

Cahill’s Lookout, Katoomba

Upgraded to be fully accessible after the fires of 2013, Cahill’s Lookout provides spectacular views over Megalong Valley and Boars Head Rock. Picnic tables and benches provide the perfect spot for viewing the sunset.

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