Review: Blue Mountains 4WD tours show you more of an amazing landscape

The stunning Blue Mountains National Park west of Sydney is one of the city's most popular day tour destinations, but there's so much more to this vast wilderness than the regular tourist haunts. You'll see much more of the mountains on this fabulous small group 4WD tour. Review: Samantha Wasson

4 stars

Blue Mountains 4WD tours with Life's an Adventure

These unique Blue Mountains 4WD tours will take you where the large tourist buses can’t. You’ll head along 4WD tracks into the very heart of the Blue Mountains National Park, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be roughing it. A platter lunch will be served overlooking a canyon, complete with crisp white linen and a glass of Australian wine. Duration: 11 hours (approx.)

Best price guarantee: If you find this tour elsewhere at a cheaper price, we will beat it by 10%. Some conditions apply. There are no booking or credit card fees when you book this tour with The Big Bus tour and travel guide.

As a kid, every winter my parents would rug me up and take me to see the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains.

It was a cherished family ritual – although why we only ever went in winter and only ever saw the famous rock formations from the same lookout now strikes me as rather odd.

For a start, it was invariably much colder in the mountains than down in Sydney and there were always hordes of tourists at our favoured viewpoint. Why didn’t we ever check it out in the warmer months, and why didn’t we ever explore further afield? Well, thanks to the amazing Blue Mountains 4WD tours offered by Life’s an Adventure, I can finally say that I’ve done both!

Blue Mountains 4WD tours

Blue Mountains 4WD tours. Image courtesy of Life’s an Adventure

While Sydney hotel pick-up is available on these Blue Mountains 4WD tours, I opt to meet our guide Lola and the other members of our group at Wentworth Falls train station. Having prefaced the warm weather in my intro (well it is November!) the dense fog and looming storm clouds mean that we won’t be following the standard tour itinerary today. Instead we start with a hike to Empress Falls in the Valley of the Waters.

As we walk, Lola points out banksia trees and explains the story of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and the ‘big, bad Banksia men’ to the Americans in our group. It doesn’t seem to go down so well with them as it does with the Aussies, who promptly reminisce about the wonder of May Gibbs.

Lola also tells us of the native ‘five beer berry’, so-called because it allegedly takes that much alcohol to get rid of the hideous taste. She also shows us ‘blackboy’ plants, which are unsurprisingly now known as ‘grass trees’. She tells us what’s edible and what’s not; what’s delicious and what’s disgusting. I feel confident that if we end up stranded in the bush. Lola will manage to keep us alive and well fed!

Blue Mountains 4WD tours

Blue Mountains 4WD tours: Blue Mountains National Park. Image courtesy of Visit NSW

The falls are 150 metres down some serious steps and the environment quickly shifts from eucalyptus and scrub to coachwoods and sassafras. The temperature also drops, the canopy appears and then we are well and truly in lush rainforest. Empress Falls is now used for canyoning competitions and lovers have begun to attach padlocks, as symbols of their commitment, to the posts that guide the way. By the time we climb back to the top I am out of breath, sweating and convinced I’ll have buns of steel by the end of the day!

Blue Mountains 4WD tours

Blue Mountains 4WD tours. Image: Samantha Wasson

Next stop on these Blue Mountains 4WD tours is Butterbox Canyon and the Grose Valley. Again, the environment is completely different, highlighting the immense biodiversity of the Blue Mountains. Up here on the ridge it’s all rocky terrain, low scrub and yellow and white wildflowers. Lola tells me that lots of people don’t like heath country, but I find it spectacularly beautiful. And because it’s so different to what I’m used to seeing in the mountains, for me it’s the highlight of the trip.

I perch on a rock at the end of the drive and look out over the valley. It’s at this point that the sheer size of the Blue Mountains National Park hits me. When you’ve only seen the Three Sisters and Echo Point all your life it’s easy to underestimate the scale of the place – in fact it’s over 10,000 square kilometres in size.

Lunch on these Blue Mountains 4WD tours is usually a gourmet platter served outdoors. Today due to the weather we enjoy a restaurant meal with views across the Jamison Valley. In theory. As we take our seats we’re surrounded by a wall of thick white fog. Lola tells us of the local saying: ‘Don’t focus on the scenes you’ve missed, but on the mist you’ve seen’. Thankfully by the time the last meal arrives the fog has cleared and we have an unobstructed view of the valley.

Blue Mountains 4WD tours

Blue Mountains 4WD tours. Image courtesy of Life’s an Adventure

We round out the day visiting a few more lookouts, before the storm clouds finally do their thing.

Today I’ve seen parts of the mountains I never knew existed and learnt so many interesting things about my country’s natural environment, history and culture. And one thing is for certain. While I may have sore legs tomorrow, those buns of steel will be worth it!

Samantha travelled as a guest of Life’s an Adventure.

Additional images: Bigstock


Samantha Wasson

About the writer

Samantha Wasson is a freelance writer and former educator who lives in Sydney but whose heart remains in Vietnam, where she lived for three years. She has travelled extensively in Asia, Europe and the United States, with a brief sojourn in Africa. Highlights from Samantha’s international escapades include: studying German in Freiburg, volunteering with an elephant rehabilitation project outside Chiang Mai and travelling by motorbike through the Mekong Delta. Lowlights include: ‘climbing’ Mount Kinabalu, nearly dying on the Great Barrier Reef and being ripped off in Beijing. She has worked for MSN/Officeworks, Swinburne University, Deakin Business School, Aussie Home Loans, Seek, TAFE Queensland, ARI Registry Services, SocietyOne, Acquire, School Places, Ivanhoe Grammar, Australian Teacher Magazine, Lead Generation and 2SER. A lover of literature and travel, Samantha subscribes to Augustine of Hippo’s observation that ‘the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page’.

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