Greater Blue Mountains Heritage Area

The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) is made up of ten thousand square kilometres of protected reserve, with wild escarpments, bushland, plateaux, gorges, sweeping forests and hidden canyons.

Blue Mountains National Park and Wollemi National Park are part of the GBMWHA, along with Yengo, Gardens of Stone, Kanangra-Boyd, Nattai and Thirlmere Lakes National Parks and Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve.

The Botanists Way is where three of the world heritage area’s four major landscape sectors overlap. From the Way the undulating hills of the Mellong Sector roll towards the north east horizon, while the canyon country that marks the beginning of the Monundilla Sector bars easy access to the north. Then to the south lie the iconic mountain clifflines and wide valleys of the Kedumba Sector.

This sandstone-dominated landscape is the richest example of the dry, tough-leaved (sclerophyll) vegetation that came to dominate much of Australia and is unique in the world.

A remarkable feature of this vegetation is the dominance of a single group of trees – the eucalypts. Over a hundred different eucalypt species are found across the world heritage area. These vast ‘gumtree’ communities grow right beside rainforests and other survivors from wetter times.

Some 50 million years ago Australia began to split from Antarctica and started drifting northwards towards Asia. Isolated from the rest of the world and with a changing climate to adapt to, the plants and animals here evolved into ever more new and original forms. These typical ‘Australian’ life forms, like the eucalypt trees, live beside leftovers from wetter ancient times when Australia was further south and part of the ancient super-continent of Gondwana. The Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis) is a famous Blue Mountains example of a Gondwanan relic.

The Greater Blue Mountains is also rich in living human connections, extending across the Country of six Aboriginal language groups – the Dharawal (south east), the Gundungurra (south), the Darug (central east), the Wiradjuri (central west), the Darkinjung (north-east) and the Wanaruah (far north).