More Inspiration

Cycling in the Blue Mountains: The power of e-bikes

Say goodbye to strenuous uphill climbs and embrace the freedom to explore more ground than ever before with an electric bike (e-bike) adventure in the Blue Mountains.

The benefits of hiring an electric bike

Revel in the joy of effortlessly cruising up hills, going further than you ever imagined, and unlocking the full potential of your cycling adventure with an e-bike. Advantages include:

  • Accessible for various fitness levels: Built with comfort and ease of operation in mind, our e-bikes come with unisex frames, making them suitable for anyone looking to enjoy the ride without physical strain. It's perfect for those new to road cycling or cycling holidays, by giving you the confidence boost needed for a seamless journey.
  • A great equaliser: If you have joint issues or are recovering from an injury, the added support from an e-bike is gentle on your legs and knees compared to traditional bikes. This makes it a great equaliser when travelling with families or friends with varying strength and stamina levels as it eliminates concerns about keeping up and allows you to focus on quality time together.
Views a plenty as you cycle the Blue Mountains |  <i>Chris Mein</i>
  • Tackle tougher climbs with ease: An electric bike transforms the journey into a more relaxed experience, allowing you to enjoy your surroundings without the physical challenges. Enjoy the extra boost to conquer challenging hills, where the electric assist of an e-bike provides the added power needed to make it to the top effortlessly. 
  • Eco-friendly and efficient: E-bikes offer an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, reducing your carbon footprint. Quick to master, electric bikes make active holidays physically easier without sacrificing the adventurous spirit of the trip. 

Cycling through Leura Cascades |  <i>Kate Harper</i>

Our high-quality hardtail Merida hybrid e-bikes are equipped with powerful 630Wh batteries, a 10-speed drivetrain, and hydraulic disc brakes, ensuring a ride that's as effortless as it is enjoyable. 

Experience the Blue Mountains in a new light, where the power of e-bikes brings people of all fitness levels together for an unforgettable journey amidst breathtaking landscapes.


Ready to embark on a cycling adventure in the Blue Mountains that lets you dictate the pace and direction of your journey? Leave the crowds behind and discover hidden gems with the battery-powered assistance of an e-bike on our self-guided tours. The best part is our day trip covers all the logistics and bike hire is included! Learn more >

Watch: What it's like canyoning in the Blue Mountains

Tag along with our guide, Dan Lewis, as he shows you all the natural beauty of the canyons in the Blue Mountains. For tourists visiting the area, many of them don't get any further than the lookout at the top, and while it's gorgeous, Dan believes the best way to explore the heart of the Bluey's is to get down into their depths, which is why canyoning for him is the perfect way to go.

Watch the full clip below:



"The magic of the Blue Mountains doesn't lie in their height, it lies in their depth. You know you descend a hundred metres in altitude, but you've effectively gone back a hundred million years in time. They're just magical places that you won't find anywhere else." 

The Blue Mountains — which, in actuality, are not so much a series of peaks but a collection of captivating ridges, plateaus, and gorges. Only 90 minutes from the Sydney centre, the World Heritage Listed site offers a swift escape from the city and an ideal place to spend the weekend away for plenty of adventures from abseiling to canyoning.

Canyoning Myths Busted

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

With the sage advice of British philosopher and polymath John Ruskin (1819-1900) fresh in our minds, let’s start by dispelling these two key myths:

1.    Canyoning can’t be done safely when it’s raining.
2.    Canyoning is unpleasant when it’s cold.

It’s true that the vast majority of canyoning takes place in the warm half of the year because it involves full immersion into chilly canyon waters. Many people, therefore, have the impression it’s a fair-weather, summer-only activity. But in 10 years as a canyon guide, some of my most memorable adventures have happened in conditions the less well-informed would rate as less than ideal for canyoning. The weather was cold or wet, or both, and still the experience was magical.

I vividly remember an icy winter’s morning after heavy overnight snowfall in the Blue Mountains a few years ago. The Newnes Plateau was coated in a thick blanket of white as we drove towards Tigersnake Canyon. Snow continued to fall in fat, silent flakes as we hiked through the hushed bush towards our first abseil into this spectacular winter slot canyon.

Yes, it was very cold, but it was also beautiful and ethereal. 

Tigersnake Canyon is as remarkable as it is remote. It boasts deep, dark, water-sculpted slots as stunning as any canyon, but can be completed without getting anything more than your feet wet. It is what we call a dry canyon – just one of several such canyons Blue Mountains Adventure Company can take you to during the colder months. 

It’s not that they don’t have water in them, it’s just that they can be navigated without having to don a wetsuit and swim, thus avoiding any icy winter agony. 

Other examples include Deep Pass Canyon on the Newnes Plateau, Dione Dell Canyon out Kanangra way, and Juggler Canyon between Medlow Bath and Blackheath. These dry canyons are also the perfect alternative when torrential rain makes many wet canyons too dangerous to tackle. 

A good example is BMAC’s most popular dry canyon, Juggler. It is a winter classic with its four abseils through a deep rainforest-lined slot, some cave crawling, traversing and a magnificent exit hike along the Rodriguez Pass, through Grand Canyon and up the historic Pilcher Track. In normal conditions it can be done by getting nothing more than your feet wet. 

During the record-breaking La Nina summer of 2021-22, Juggler was also a spectacular but safe option during and after heavy rain. 

With either raincoats and thermals or wetsuits to protect from the water and the cold, it was an utterly breathtaking canyoning option amid raging waterfalls that inspired awe and got the adrenalin thoroughly pumping. 

Another bonus is that wet weather brings out the brilliant aromas and colours of the Blue Mountains bush and keeps the tourist crowds back in the cafes.

They know a thing or two about bad weather in Britain and the famed British fell walker Alfred Wainwright (1907-1991) once observed: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” 

That’s why BMAC can provide you with all the gear you need to make canyoning in cold and wet conditions safe and pleasant - hot drinks and lollies, thick wetsuits and neoprene socks, beanies and thermals, spray jackets and fleeces. Even more importantly, BMAC will provide you with guides with the skills and experience to make your canyoning experience special in all conditions.

Part of the charm of canyoning is that it helps create a serene mind and sound body. That’s why I love this final weather-related quote from the English novelist George Gissing (1857-1903): “For the man sound of body and serene of mind there is no such thing as bad weather; every day has its beauty, and storms which whip the blood do but make it pulse more vigorously.”

Come canyoning with us, regardless of the season or the weather. You won’t be disappointed because every day – and every canyon - has its beauty in every condition.

Written by Dan Lewis - BMAC guide since 2014

How to prevent & treat blisters

The last thing you need on a long hike or multi-day trek are blisters, but often all it takes is a little preparation to keep your feet stress-free! Here are some helpful ways to make your next outdoor adventure a comfortable one.

Why do I get blisters?

Blisters form when there is too much friction between your foot and your hiking boots. Blisters most commonly appear on your heels or around your toes, but they can appear anywhere on your body if the activity is repetitive enough and creates friction against your skin.

On multi-day treks, blisters can make or break your experience, so to ensure your feet are healthy, comfortable and blister-free, we recommend using the following techniques to prevent and treat forming hot spots.

Top blister prevention tips for happy hiking feet

QUICK SUMMARY: How to avoid getting blisters

Properly fitted and worn in shoes – if they are too tight or too loose they will often cause issues. If your boots are new, make sure you've broken into them long enough.
• Quality socks are essential – many trekkers prefer to wear a liner sock under a heavier hiking sock to wick moisture and keep the foot dry. Try a merino wool or polypropylene liner in cold conditions or a Coolmax liner for warm to hot conditions.
Keep your feet dry – using foot powder with the right sock can really help prevent moisture from gathering.
Lubricate your feet – Body Glide is great for reducing friction. Many runners and walkers use this lubricant on their feet as well as other friction points on their bodies to prevent chafing. 
Blister blocks and second skin – if you have ‘hot spots’ that are prone to blisters, try applying these items prior to your walk. They can also be used for protection and cushioning after a blister has formed.
Wrapping and taping – tape any pressure points or hot spots each day with athletic tape or moleskin. Make sure there are no wrinkles in the tape that might rub.

Your hiking boots

Your hiking boots are the most important tool in preventing blisters – they could make or break your walking holiday! Firstly, make sure your boots are the right size and fit you well – sounds simple, but if you feel your boots pinch your toes together uncomfortably, they may be too small for you and your likelihood of blisters is almost guaranteed.

At the same time, a pair of hiking boots that are too big for you will make your feet move around loosely in the boots, creating unnecessary friction and consequently, increase the likelihood of blisters. 

On walking trips make sure you invest in good walking boots |  <i>#cathyfinchphotography</i>

A well-fitting pair of hiking boots will leave enough space for your toes, even when descending a steep hill. They will, however, hold your heels securely in place, which will prevent any heel blisters from forming.

Once you have a pair of well-fitting boots, you need to ensure they have been broken in before you start your hike. If not, the stiffness of a new set of boots can create unnecessary pressure on certain parts of your feet and cause blisters. Breaking your hiking boots in slowly will make their sole more flexible and mould the inside of the shoes to your feet, helping create the perfect fit for your foot.

No other piece of equipment can impact your enjoyment of your trek more than your boots, so investing in comfortable trekking boots is highly recommended.

We advise going to a gear shop to be fitted by an expert who will talk you through the range of boots on offer and find the best boot to suit your foot type.

Once you’ve bought your boots make sure you wear them as much as possible! They might feel a bit uncomfortable and stiff at first, but the more you wear them, the more they will mould to your foot shape. Start with short walks and build up to longer ones. It might take some time to wear them in, but it's better you get blisters now rather than on your trip.

Your socks

Now you’ve got your boots sorted, the next thing to look at is your socks.

Hiking socks are usually thicker in certain areas, such as the heel and the ball of the foot, to reduce friction against your skin and provide padding between your trekking boots and your feet.

Avoid cotton socks, as they tend to absorb your sweat and hold the moisture, while the bunched up fabric will rub against your skin and create blisters.

Hiking socks are designed to transport moisture from your foot, through the socks and into the material of your hiking boots. If you have a breathable pair of hiking boots, these will then transport the moisture out of the boot and leave your feet dry and comfortable, with a low risk of blisters.

Wearing two pairs of socks is another way to reduce friction and minimize the likelihood of blisters forming; we recommend very thin synthetic socks closest to your skin with regular hiking socks worn on top. The theory is that the socks will absorb any friction. There are socks specifically designed for this purpose and, if you are susceptible to blisters, it’s worth trying this method.

On the trail

There are a few things you can do to prevent blisters before you start your hiking adventure. If you already know of any problem areas that are likely to form blisters, tape them before you start to reduce friction. If you start feeling any of these hotspots getting uncomfortable, tend to them immediately to prevent blisters from forming. You can do this by taping them with moleskin, bandages, medical leukotape or even duct tape.

Alternatively, if none of these methods are available to you, simply take a break and take your shoes and socks off for a while to let your feet air out and give your feet a well-earned rest. If your feet get wet or sweaty enough to soak your socks, this is a good time to air them out.

Moisture creates more friction and favourable conditions for blisters to form.

When putting your shoes back on, make sure you tie them properly in a way that relieves the hotspots from pressure or friction. Another way of avoiding wet feet is changing your socks regularly throughout the day; your dry, blister-free feet will thank you later.

How to treat blisters

Notify your guides

Our guides are trained on how to best treat blisters to reduce physical discomfort while on a trek. If you feel a blister forming be sure to notify your guides the moment you notice it. Early treatment is best made for a more enjoyable walking adventure.

Treating your blisters yourself

Try to avoid creating any more friction on the affected spot by covering the area with an extra layer between your skin and your boots. You can use normal plasters, gauze or special blister plasters.

If your blister has popped, it's important to protect the blister from infection, so apply a disinfectant cream to the area and cover it with a plaster to prevent dirt and sweat from touching the sore.

Should I pop a blister?

Popping a blister is a controversial topic. Small blisters, which are not painful, should usually not be drained. The intact skin on them protects them best from infection.

How to drain a blister

Draining a blister that is larger and painful can reduce the pain but increase the risk of infection. If you decide to drain a blister, wash the blister and surrounding area thoroughly first. Sterilize your needle with heat or alcohol. Insert the needle near the base of the blister. Dress the blister like any other wound to keep it clean.

Whilst a trek may seem daunting – particularly if it’s your first time, if you take the time to prepare yourself mentally and physically, you’ll be well on your way to being ready to take on the challenge. Following these tips will hopefully help you avoid blisters and make the most of your next walking adventure. Good luck on the trails!

Have tips of your own to share? Let us know in the comments below.

6 reasons to choose a self-guided walking trip

Whether you want to be the master of your own travel destiny or enjoy the journey of travelling solo, choosing to travel independently doesn't have to be a daunting task.

Enter self-guided walking holidays. They provide the freedom of moving at your own pace and being challenged further. When there's a lot to consider on an active adventure – from transfers to accommodation, route mapping to gear hire – it helps when the hassle of organising is taken out of your hands.

What does a self-guided walking trip involve?

A self-guided hike is pretty much letting you control the steering wheel but having a personalised Siri navigator – i.e. an experienced outdoor company – help you along the way.

Especially when seeking out paths less travelled, a self guided walking trip combines the flexibility, comfort and freedom of independent travel with the benefits of an organised guided hike.

Our self-guided walks don't compromise on security and organisation, with 24/7 support and logistics taken care of by our ground team. You can get the perks of gear hire included, have most meals (or food drops when out in the wilderness) provided, camp equipment use, maps and route details on hand, luggage transfers and more. All you need to do is arrive on the day of your great adventure and start navigating.

How different is a self-guided hike to hiking independently?

Independent tours are for travellers that want to go it alone, seeking out a unique experience with that extra freedom to venture where and how one pleases. And thanks to the internet, the boom in DIY has become the rage. But that means planning, researching, making calls, organising bookings and schedules, budgeting, doing more research, making more phone calls... I think you get the drift. Planning an itinerary and managing all the logistics can get tedious and exhausting. 

So is saving a few bucks worth sacrificing the overall experience, not to mention the time taken to co-ordinate a one to two week holiday? And, do you actually save that much money in the end?

Self guided walks take the hassle away with expertly planned itineraries and service both on and off the trail with plenty of wiggle room to tailor your travel experience to suit your style, budget and needs.

While travel styles are continually evolving, a regular constant is people's need to seek out value for experience and value for money. So a boom in self guided tours makes a lot of sense for those that like the feel of independent travel but with the luxury of the expertise, advice, assistance and safety of a travel company.

Self guided walking trips offer a multitude of advantages, regardless of whether you are an experienced active traveller or a first-timer.

6 benefits of opting for a self guided walk:

1. Convenience: Researching all the possibilities can get exciting, but it is also time-consuming, overwhelming and even exhausting at times. Choosing our self guided holidays means we do all the leg work with specialist knowledge of your destination from our experienced team of adventures and experts. You'll save a lot of screen time not scouring the internet researching ideas and reading reviews with the luxury of an expertly crafted itinerary, based on years of experience and local knowledge of a destination. It allows you to make the most of your time and ensure you can travel worry-free with all the logistics sorted.

2. Competitive pricing: Travel companies can get a better price thanks to their volume. We can help pre-book accommodation, gear hire and activities at great prices and our team can help tailor your trip to meet your budget. Plus, with plenty of inclusions in the trip cost already, you can better budget for your adventure holiday and eliminate many out of pocket expenses. 

3. Luggage transport service: Having your bags transferred for you each day is a major plus where you simply leave your bags at the reception of your accommodation in the morning with our luggage tags attached and they’ll be picked up and dropped off at your following destination accommodation.

4. Travel at your own pace: With more flexibility, you can pick and choose what you want to do, where you wish to spend more time and not have to worry about keeping up with a tour group. (You can even choose your own travel buddies!) Under your own steam, you’ll have time to savour the sights and delights of the region.

5. Up-to-date and well-thought-out route notes and maps: These get updated more often than a guide book does and they always benefit from local insights and knowledge. Rest assured that we'll look after the logistics, so you can concentrate on the trail ahead.

6. Added security: If something goes wrong on your trip when travelling independently with a small group of friends or solo, who are you going to call? There's no need to go into 'survival mode'. Our self guided trips offer 24-hour local emergency contacts, which can be the difference between you getting back on the trail in a matter of hours, or aborting the trip completely. Travel with a peace of mind knowing that there is help only a fingertip away, especially when the unexpected has a way of happening.

Rather than thinking and worrying about trip logistics all day, isn’t it worth treating yourself to a trip where someone else takes on this thankless task, so you can focus on all the amazing reasons you came to the destination in the first place? We don’t doubt that independent travel doesn’t have its place, but there are certainly plenty of perks when you have expert support and advice on hand.

New to self guided trips? Check out our range.

10 Best Blue Mountains Walks

The Blue Mountains offers an almost endless array of great walking opportunities, suitable for all levels of fitness and experience. With the UNESCO world heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains Area being a million hectares of protected Parks to explore, there is a lifetime of walking experiences to enjoy in the Blue Mountains, right on Sydney’s doorstep. 

So, where do you start when there are so many Blue Mountains walks to choose from? To get you started, we’ve created a list of the 10 best walks in the Blue Mountains. (in no particular order, they are all worth doing!)


The Upper Blue Mountains includes the townships of Blackheath, Katoomba, Leura and Wentworth Falls.

Prince Henry Cliff Walk

This 7km walk offers all the iconic views of the Blue Mountains. The green expanse of the Jamison Valley with its golden walls of sandstone, the ever-present Mount Solitary and the vast wilderness that extends southward are all easily visible from this popular Blue Mountains hike. Stretching from Katoomba to Leura, this walk can be accessed from multiple locations allowing for shorter walks, or completed in its entirety in 3 to 4 hours (one-way).

Grand Canyon Walk

The historic Grand Canyon walking loop was first established in 1907 and is one of the most popular walks in the Blue Mountains. The Grand Canyon Walk is a classic, and one of the more popular hikes in the Blue Mountains, exploring some of the areas most diverse and spectacular ecosystems from the scrubby and harsh dry sclerophyll forest to otherworldly cool-temperate rainforests. Located in Blackheath, this 6.5km loop track can be explored on your own using our free self-guided maps or for a heightened experience, book your own personal guided Grand Canyon Walk with a knowledgeable and experienced Blue Mountains Adventure Company guide.
Enjoy the lush greenery of this classic Blue Mountains walk |  <i>Andy Mein</i>

Golden Stairs to Ruined Castle

For a Blue Mountains walk that gives the sense of being in the wilderness without being too far removed from Katoomba, this hike is a gem. This 6.6km ‘out-and-back’, at times, hard walk takes you to one of the most recognisable landmarks of the Jamison Valley – the Ruined Castle; a rock formation situated to the west of Mount Solitary. The climb to the top of the Ruined Castle is a tricky rock scramble however offers rewarding views across the Jamison Valley back towards Katoomba; and south across what seems like an endless green wilderness of the Southern Blue Mountains.

Fern Bower to Furber Steps (via Leura Forest)

Located in Katoomba, this is a great day walk in the Blue Mountains that incorporates some areas less trafficked by the masses whilst still exploring the more frequented popular areas. The descent down the Fern Bower Track is steep at times but manageable with great steps and railings in place. The trail winds past beautiful waterfalls and through lush green rainforest to Leura Forest. At this peaceful rest area you can connect with either the Federal Pass or Dardanelles Pass for your onward journey beneath the Three Sisters. Shortly before reaching Scenic World you turn upwards on Furber Steps; and to create a circuit walk, you can connect with the Prince Henry Cliff Walk (see above) and return to your start point near Leura Cascades. 

For details on accessing this walk download our free map for Leura Forest and Leura Cascades.

The view of the spectacular Grose Valley from Govetts Leap |  <i>Greg Lees</i>

Lockleys Pylon to Govetts Leap (via Blue Gum Forest)

This Blue Mountains walk is a committing day walk or an overnight hike for the adventurous. The walk to Lockleys Pylon offers some of the most spectacular views of the Blue Mountains across the Grose Valley wilderness. The open heathland of the ridge tops closes in on your rugged descent into the Grose Valley as you enter the forests of the valley floor. The Blue Gum Forest, nestled in the depth of the valley, is one of the most renowned bushwalking sites in Australia as a result of its beauty and history as a catalyst for the Blue Mountains National Park being realised. Continuing past Acacia Flats campsite and on to Junction Rock you now begin your climb out of the valley towards Govetts Leap. In time, the serious climbing begins up the epic Rodrigues Pass, which at times clings to the sheer walls of the escarpment. Not to be missed by the adventurous.

National Pass and The Valley of the Waters

Built into the side of the cliff, National Pass is a spectacular Blue Mountains walking track offering unrivalled views of the many natural wonders of the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park. Beyond the stepping stones at the top of the spectacular drop of Wentworth Falls, you will begin your descent on the historic Grand Stairway, built by hand in the early 1900’s. The National Pass begins its traverse mid-way up the towering escarpment from the base of the Stairway, and connects you with the Valley of the Waters. From here the walk begins its return ascent past numerous waterfalls including Empress Falls with its epic finish to this popular canyon adventure. At the top, at Conservation Hut, you’ll be greeted by yet more expansive views. If you began your walk from Wentworth Falls Picnic Area then you can complete your circuit by taking the Shortcut Track.
View from Mt Morilla on Day 2 of K2K |  <i>Lauren Storaker</i>

Kanangra to Katoomba (K2K)

This full-pack bushwalking expedition is one of the classic multi-day wilderness walks of the Southern Blue Mountains. The walk explores spectacular wilderness, following an unmarked path from Kanangra Walls to Katoomba. It is a challenging undertaking, with numerous significant ascents and descents but your effort will be well rewarded. In three days you will cross two National Parks, enjoying the best scenery of both. If you don't want to tackle this on your own come join us on a guided Kanangra to Katoomba expedition for the reassurance and a heightened experience.


The Lower Blue Mountains includes the towns of Lawson, Woodford, Springwood, Blaxland and Glenbrook. Whilst most of the focus is on the upper Blue Mountains walks, the trails of the Lower Blue Mountains are equally worth exploring – and often quieter. Our suggestions include:

The Victory Track  / Sassafras Gully

This is a beautiful track that is commonly approached from Faulconbridge and concluded at Springwood. It is also an access point to the more adventurous walking routes along Glenbrook Creek and the ridges above. Lush and green, the walk meanders through a beautiful rainforest gully the like of which is usually seen beneath the escarpments of the upper Blue Mountains. There are numerous options for side trips and exit tracks up towards the Great Western Highway. In the warm summer months, the many shallow swimming holes are worth visiting.

Martin’s Lookout to the Lost World

A fantastic walk with a steep descent/ascent in both directions and fabulous views. The walk starts at Martin’s Lookout (vehicle access required or a 4-5 km walk to start of the track from Springwood Station). Descend from Martin’s Lookout along single track, steep in parts and some short rock scrambles to Glenbrook Creek which is a lovely stop; and even better on your return journey to rest before your final steep ascent back up to Martin’s Lookout. Cross Glenbrook Creek and follow an at-times indistinct path to connect with the Kings Link Track that leads away from the creek up to Bunyan Lookout. Some great rocks to scramble on near Bunyan Lookout before following path up the spur towards the Lost World Lookout. Fantastic views up and down the valley. A worthy lunch spot before returning to Martin’s Lookout via the same route.

Waterfall Circuit

A great circuit walk starting near Lawson Swimming Pool, and taking in a series of small but very pretty waterfalls. Some lovely spots to stop and cool off along the way. This Blue Mountains walk is best done after some rain to enjoy the full effect of the beauty of the falls and surrounding rainforest areas.

If you'd like to try a walk in the Blue Mountains but prefer some experience local guidance, check out our range of guided Blue Mountains walks.

A hen's celebration in Empress Falls Canyon
I cannot think of a better activity for a group of adventurous women to celebrate a friends upcoming nuptials than by doing a canyon… in fancy dress!

As a canyon guide and general outdoorsy type, I have a lot of friends with similar interests. When the wedding plans for a good friend were kicking off the ground, we girls threw around ideas for what to do for a Hens Day. We settled on a night on the town… but some of us needed more adventure than a few dubiously named cocktails. 
Amongst all the possible additional celebratory activities, a canyon in the Blue Mountains was top of the list. 

Allowing ample recovery time from the aforementioned cocktails, we set off a little later than normal. It wasn’t too hard to decide which canyon to do. Just around the corner from us in Wentworth Falls, is Empress Canyon which is action packed and fun with a relatively short walk out.
In addition to delivering fully equipped adventure tours, Blue Mountains Adventure company also hire gear, so I was able to easily equip the girls for our hens’ adventure. Importantly we also packed one other vital piece of equipment – an out-there rainbow unicorn headband that would fit over the Hen’s helmet!
All kitted out with both canyoning gear and our array of brightly coloured tutus, we headed to the canyon. A word of warning for anyone thinking of undertaking a similar mission, tight fitting tutus that you can only just squish into, are much harder to get on over a 5mm wetsuit! This was a hen’s adventure so not wearing the tutu was just not an option. 
Hen's celebration in Empress Falls Canyon |  <i>Lauren Storaker</i>

As the experienced professional canyon guide, and even though most of them had done this canyon before, I still gave the girls a reminder of the important safety considerations necessary for canyon adventures. Having the skills and knowledge before undertaking an adventure like this are vital to ensuring you return safely.

The journey into Empress Canyon starts spectacularly with a jump, which is usually done backwards. Only one of us had not done the canyon before - of course we got her to jump first! After an initial bout of nerves, she did it like a champion. The following two jumps are just as thrilling. I love it that each jump in Empress Falls Canyon has its own flavour, so they remain exciting. One of the rewards of being a guide is seeing people who think that they aren’t capable of doing a jump, and then conquering the fear or proving wrong that part in our brain that tells us we can’t do something. 
The next section of canyon involves walking and wading through shallow water. In this section you can marvel at the beauty of the green ‘carpeted’ walls typical of many Blue Mountains Canyons; the colours are so spectacular, and the flora is unique to these environments. We all appreciated having that little piece of paradise all to ourselves. 
As you near the end of the canyon, the excitement builds to its crescendo. There is a fun natural waterslide into a pool before you get to the final 30 metre waterfall abseil. Blue Mountains Adventure Company categorise this canyon as an introductory canyon when it is combined with abseiling in the morning. Don’t let that fool you. This abseil is very technical and requires prior abseiling experience - hence combining with the morning abseil session. (See Empress Falls Canyon and Abseiling).
We were joined by a guided group at the top of the abseil. Some of our friends were the guides and their clients were totally stoked at doing their first ever canyon. They also thought it was hilarious to see us doing it in fancy dress!

One by one the women conquered the waterfall abseil. We got some great pictures of the bride-to-be descending the waterfall in her white dress. 
Everyone was so happy with the experience at the end and glad that we had decided to do the hens adventure in addition to the night before. Empress Canyon in fancy dress is an experience that will not be forgotten. Fancy dress or not, I recommend highly to challenge yourself with this canyon, it will be one of the best experiences of your life. 
Written by Lauren Storaker – BMAC guide since 2018
A historical snippet of Blue Mountains Climbing
The first Blue Mountains rock climbers? They were undoubtedly Aboriginal people many millennia ago. 
As Glenn Short wrote in a potted history published in the publication Blue Mountains Climbing: "Thousands of years of shortcuts, exploratory scrambling and fun-loving jaunts around the orange walls of the Blue Mountains must have produced thousands of Aboriginal soloing epics. Spare a thought for the climbing culture ... we've lost. Our ropes, sticky rubber and ringbolts mark us for the bumblies we are."

Modern climbing, on the other hand, can be traced back to the 1920s and a remarkable man named Eric Dark (1889-1987). For starters, this Katoomba medical doctor was married to a remarkable woman. Eleanor Dark (1901-1985) was an accomplished writer whose book trilogy, The Timeless Land, about the early years of European settlement in Australia, won her acclaim locally and overseas. She loved the Australian bush with a passion and her greatest writing was done when she described it. Today the Darks' old Katoomba home Varuna, in Cascade Street close to the cliffs of the Jamison Valley, is a writers' retreat.

Eric and Eleanor married in 1922, moved to Katoomba in 1923 and their many shared interests included literature and rock climbing. How did that come about? Local school boys naturally found the towering cliffs around Katoomba irresistible, but lacked the skills and equipment to climb them safely. When one of them ended up in Eric's consulting room to have his injuries treated, the idea was born to create a climbing club. They called themselves 'The Blue Mountaineers', and included Eleanor, but less kind souls dubbed them 'The Katoomba Suicide Club'. During the 1920s and 1930s, Eric and his fellow club members climbed regularly on the cliffs of the Blue Mountains, including Sublime Point where Sweet Dreams is still one of the most popular climbs guided by Blue Mountains Adventure Company.

Eleanor and Eric Dark at their wedding in 1922 |  <i>Source: Local Studies Collection - Blue Mountains City Library</i> Dark Family at their favorite camping cave near Leura in 1937. |  <i>Source: Local Studies Collection - Blue Mountains City Library</i> Eric Dark climbing Boars Head |  <i>Source: Local Studies Collection - Blue Mountains City Library</i>

For Eric, the Blue Mountains was not his first climbing destination and climbing was but one thrilling chapter in an amazing life. As well as having already climbed in other parts of Australia, it is thought he had honed his climbing skills in Britain and continental Europe while serving as a medic during World War I, according to Glenn Short.

Such was Dark's bravery on the Western Front, he was awarded the Military Cross. The 1917 citation for his service at the notorious Battle of Passchendaele read: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in leading his bearers. He displayed great gallantry and disregard of danger in moving about in the open under the heaviest shell fire, collecting and evacuating the wounded. He worked continuously for 36 hours, by his energy and determination contributing largely to the rapid clearing of the battlefield." At one stage during the war, Eric was temporarily blinded and badly affected by gas because he had taken his mask off in order to better treat the wounded. Inspired by the suffering of the poor of the Blue Mountains during the Great Depression, Eric also became a left-wing political and social agitator and champion of free speech.

Because of his military and rock climbing backgrounds, Eric was commissioned during World War II to train defence personnel in bushcraft and scout out Blue Mountains caves that could be used as hideouts for Australian guerilla troops in the event of a Japanese invasion. As his citation in the Australian Dictionary of Biography rightly notes, Eric Dark was not only a small, wiry, energetic, extremely fit man, he was most importantly "a man of moral rectitude and courage".

Come climb in his remarkable footsteps with a guide from the Blue Mountains Adventure Company.

Written by Dan Lewis - BMAC guide since 2014
Help Support the Blue Mountains Rural Fire Service
Nearly everyone in NSW seems to have been affected by the fires in some way. From the thick smoke to those who are facing the front line, it has been a horrible way to begin the summer.

The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is home to our amazing adventures and without the wilderness we would not be able to provide the quality outdoor experiences we do. Whilst the fires are still burning in some areas that are understandably closed, there are areas that haven't been impacted and remain safe to enjoy. 
The priority for the Blue Mountains region now is the ongoing fire fighting efforts. We are thankful for the work of the brave men and women at the Rural Fire Service across the state, the vast majority of whom are volunteering their time and often at personal sacrifice. A number of Blue Mountains Adventure Company guides are also servicing members of the RFS and have been actively working on the fire front.
Naturally, we want to thank our Blue Mountains District RFS and have shown our appreciation by donating $1000. We want to encourage you to donate whatever you can as well. 
Visit the RFS donation page, click the 'Secure online donations' button, then select 'Make a donation to a local brigade' and select NSW RFS Blue Mountains District Group Planning Committee, Katoomba 2780.
Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you in the Blue Mountains soon.

Blue Mountains Canyoning: A quick history
They may be blue, but they are not much more than a thousand metres high and they are not even mountains! In the language of science, the Blue Mountains are really a dissected uplifted plateau.

It is this incredible dissection of deep valleys and gorges surrounding stubborn peaks that helps make the Blue Mountains the amazing World Heritage-listed place they are. The magic lies not in their heights but in their depths - the amazing places that have been carved into its sandstone soul. And there is no better way to experience the magic of these depths than to go canyoning.

To venture into the deep, dappled, cold, wet, narrow slot canyons like Serendipity, Whungee Wheengee, Butterbox, Claustral, Empress Falls or Rocky Creek is to not only experience an adrenaline-filled physical challenge full of breath-taking beauty and biodiversity but to travel in a time machine to a hidden and ancient world that helps you fully comprehend why UNESCO deemed this dissected plateau to possess universal values important for all of humanity when it granted it World Heritage status in 2000.

It was only in 1994, for example, that an abseil into a Blue Mountains canyon led to the discovery of the famous Wollemi Pine, a tree from the time of the dinosaurs that was thought to have been extinct for millions of years. This “pinosaur with Jurrasic bark” made headlines around the world.
The eye-catching Hat Hill Canyon |  <i>Andrew Pope</i> Learn the necessary skills to make your own canyon explorations The impressive Juggler Canyon |  <i>David Hill</i>

The ancient canyons have been known to the Aboriginal people of the Blue Mountains for thousands of years, but canyoning can trace its modern beginnings back to the early attempts by white settlers to find a way across the Blue Mountains. It was explorer George Caley who, in 1804, stumbled into what is now Claustral Canyon in the Blue Mountains and named it Dismal Dingle as he became one of the many to be defeated as he sought a way across this dissected labyrinth that compensates for a lack of height with an outrageously rugged landscape.

But it was bushwalking clubs looking for fresh challenges after World War II that really pioneered canyoning as a recreation.

The Blue Mountains Adventure Company began in the 1980s, taking locals and people from around the world on guided canyoning trips that are like nothing else. What Caley called “dismal”, modern visitors call enchanting, breathtaking and unforgettable.

The company’s guides pride themselves on offering a canyoning experience that is second to none.
Written by Dan Lewis - BMAC guide since 2014
8 reasons adventure is good for you

There’s something special about getting out of your comfort zone, even if it is ever so slight, and embarking on an adventure and really experiencing the natural world. There are many ways to explore the Blue Mountains and we believe that walking the trails, abseiling into the deep canyons and generally having fun using your own energy is the best way to enjoy the wilderness. 

But don't take our word for it. Here are eight ways travel that active adventures can truly benefit your well-being and everyday life. 

1. Spending time outdoors reduces stress

There’s a reason why there’s a smile on everyone’s face after they’ve come back from an active adventure – because they’re happier for it! All the stresses of life just melt away as you embark among some of the most stunning sceneries in the world.

Australians are some of the most stressed out people in the world, with recent report reporting that stress levels have been rising around the country for the past five years. Thankfully, research suggests that nature walks can reduce stress, as well as boost levels of attention.

Gregory Bratman, the lead author of the study, said that 'nature experiences, even of a short duration, can decrease this pattern of thinking that is associated with the onset, in some cases depression.'

So if you’re feeling the strain of city living, immerse yourself into the Blue Mountains to reduce your stress levels. 


2. Nature makes exercise easier

If you're having trouble getting the motivation to get fit, here's a bit of information that will make exercise easier.

Research conducted at the University of Essex suggests that exercise feels easier when you are viewing the colour green, such as on trees, grass and other plants in nature.

The study conducted tested cyclists pedalling in front of green, red and grey images. Those who pedalled in front of the green screen reported that they felt lower exertion during their cycling, as well as displayed less mood disturbances than the other participants.

If you're looking for a way to get fit the easy way, fool your mind and go on an active adventure in nature where it's "green" - like here in the Blue Mountains!


3. Nature can rejuvenates your soul

One of the best reasons to spend time outdoors trekking and cycling is that it can reinvigorate your mental state. Studies have shown that viewing natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe, which can release endorphins and trigger a mental boost.

An interview by HuffingtonPost with a Seattle-based environmental psychologist states: 'In addition to helping decrease stress levels, spending more time with nature shows a shift toward more positive moods... the theory is that we respond positively to things that are good for us. Trees offer shade, protection and often have fruits and nuts, so they are a source of food as well as protection and comfort.'

Ultimately, we tend to be drawn and attracted to things that are beneficial to our survival, which is one of the reasons why trees and other natural elements can help lift our moods.


4. Gain a sense of accomplishment

Regardless of age and size, taking on an adventure can create feelings associated with personal achievement. The more difficult and greater the challenge, the more sense of achievement we feel when we accomplish those goals. Talk to us about our challenging canyoning experiences.


5. Travel increases your self-awareness

A bi-product of travel is raising your self-awareness and it’s one of the most beneficial parts of taking on an adventurous trip.

Adventure travel brings you closer to your “inner self”, giving you the chance to examine and challenge yourself in ways you didn’t think were possible.

Stepping into the unknown and taking a risk demands our increased attention and can bring an intense state of self awareness – one of the reasons that people, such as mountain climbers, engage in adventure activities.

These adventurers often return home with a more relaxed mind and an increase in self confidence – yet another reason to pack your kit and head to the Blue Mountains for some adventure.


6. The outdoors can make you smarter

Just ask our guides! Immersing yourself in the outdoors can increase your higher order cognition in more ways than one. This study found that brain scans taken after exercise showed that the participants had greater and more focused activity in the prefrontal cortex than they did before.

What’s more, active adventures help increase activity in your hippocampus, the brain’s main “storage unit”. Typically, the hippocampus decreases as you get older, leading to memory loss, however physical outdoor activity can lead to a chemical reaction in the body that increases the hippocampus. A group of middle aged adults took a 40-minute walk three times a week and over a year grew their hippocampi by two per cent.


7. Forge new friendships

Take an adventure and gain a friend; if there's one benefit of an adventure overseas that leaves you with the warm and fuzzy's, this is it.

Embarking on a challenge with other people can bring you closer together; sharing the trials and the triumphs gives you something to bond over and forms relationships that'll embed deep in your memories.


8. Learn new skills

If you ever want to brush up on your life skills, a rope based activity is all you need. The experiences gained from entering new surroundings and improving your skill set when abseiling will provide you with confidence that you can use in every day living..

These are some of our favourite reasons why adventure travel is good for you. Can you think of any more? Share them in the comments section below.

We respectfully acknowledge the Darug, Darkinjung, Dharawal, Gundungurra, Wanaruah, and Wiradjuri language groups as the traditional custodians of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and thank them for sharing this beautiful land with us.

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