Walk to Wellness

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Give your health a kick start on one of these accessible bushwalks in the Blue Mountains. By Julie Miller

In the 1920s, a Russian biochemist discovered that trees emit phytoncides, airborne anti-microbial substances that not only help the plant fight off disease, but also have a beneficial effect on human immune systems. In the 1980s, the Japanese adapted these findings into a practice called shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest bathing’, a preventative health practice that improves wellbeing and reduces stress by immersing your senses in nature.

Imagine the health benefits, then, from exposure to one million hectares of wilderness in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area? It’s easy to walk your way to wellness on literally hundreds of different bush trails in the region, from challenging calf-burning descents to the valley floor, to gentle strolls along clifftop paths.

Here are some suggestions for easily-accessed walks where you can slow down, observe, and let nature lift your spirits:

PRINCE HENRY CLIFFTOP WALK

Distance: 7 km one way

Grade: Moderate

Following the cliff edge from Katoomba Falls to Leura, this iconic walk takes in some of the most spectacular views in Australia, with highlights including the Three Sisters, views across the Jamison Valley to Mt Solitary, Leura Cascades and Gordon Falls. There are over 20 lookouts along the route, which will take up to four hours in its entirety. Alternatively, choose a section and take a shorter hike, pausing for a picnic or for countless photo opportunities.

*NB – some sections of this track are undergoing repairs after catastrophic landslides a year ago, with detours in place. The picnic area and road to Leura Cascades is also currently closed, but is accessible on foot. Please visit www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/walking-tracks for the current status.

GRAND CANYON TRACK

Distance: 6.3 km loop

Grade: Moderate, lots of steps

After flirting with a one-way system, the Grand Canyon is once again a two-way trail, accessed either from Neates Glen carpark or Evans Lookout. The steep and sometimes challenging track recently underwent a $4.5 million upgrade, with sandstone steps now making the way safer and less slippery. This walk takes you past massive overhangs into the cool depths of a beautiful sandstone canyon lined with lush tree ferns, where the sound of tinkling water will soothe your soul.

SCENIC WALKWAY

Distance: 2.4 km

Grade: Easy

After an exhilarating descent to the valley floor on the Scenic Walkway, take your time to stroll under the temperate rainforest canopy on the Scenic Walkway, an elevated boardwalk where you can immerse yourself in the forest and examine it in detail. Wonder at twisted, tangled vines strung between mossy tree trunks, the soft dappled light revealing a kaleidoscope of green hues. Close your eyes and listen to the birdsong, and breathe in the cool misty air. www.scenicworld.com.au

CLIFFTOP TRACK (GOVETTS LEAP TO EVANS LOOKOUT)

Distance: 6.2 km return

Grade: Easy

This cliff-edge walk at Blackheath is rewarded by breathtaking views across the Grose Valley as well as distant glimpses of waterfalls plummeting into the void. From Govetts Leap, the trail passes through wildflower-strewn heathland to Barrow Lookout and the top of Govetts Leap waterfall, before continuing along the edge of the cliffs to Evans Lookout. There are plenty of benches along the way to rest, catch your breath and take in the spectacular vistas.

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SOUTH LAWSON WATERFALL CIRCUIT

Distance: 2.5km circuit

Grade: Easy

This lesser-known circuit is somewhat of a local secret, popular with families as well as being one of the only bushwalks in the Mountains that is dog-friendly. The circuit takes in four pretty cascades: Adelina, Junction, Federal and Cataract Falls, all with crystal clear rock pools where you can dip your toes, breathing in the negative ions that are proven to increase serotonin, relieve stress and boost energy. The trail is accessed from two carpark on Honour Avenue, Lawson. 

SUBLIME POINT

Distance: 400 metres return

Grade: Easy

If you’re short on time and in need of a quick dose of incredible majesty, take the easy trail to Sublime Point Lookout for a view that truly lives up to its name. Breathe in the eucalypt-infused air as you take in the 270-degree vista from Kings Tableland to Narrow Neck Peninsula, centred by the flat-topped Mount Solitary. Pause to spot honeyeaters in flowering bottlebrush or black cockatoos soaring over the escarpment.

NATURE THERAPY WALKS

Lady Nancy Fairfax Walk, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Grade: Easy

Every Saturday until end April, 11am-1pm
This guided experience is designed to increase your mental and physical health by reducing stress levels and lowering your pulse and blood pressure. Facilitators will gently guide participants through a series of sensory experiences, mindfulness, quiet aware walking and nature appreciation to help promote slowing down, nature connection and relaxation. The ‘forest bathing’ experience, presented by the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden and In My Nature, concludes with a Japanese-inspired tea ceremony. Suitable for families, and ages 13+

F&F member price - $32/ Standard price - $35

https://www.bluemountainsbotanicgarden.com.au/What-s-On/Nature-Therapy-Walks

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