A sodden weekend in the Blue Mountains fills the air with the beautiful scent of rain-soaked eucalyptus leaves. Lookouts are generally empty and when fog wraps silently around jagged cliff tops, making vast valleys disappear, it's spectacular.
A drizzly weekend sojourn also means you can expect waterfalls to be gushing over cliffs (instead of trickling) and nothing evokes a Blue Mountains escape like cosying up with a hot chocolate; stuffed with marshmallows, next to a crackling fire. A scene that is exceptionally better at the end of a soggy day.
Bushwalking tracks can turn into creeks but that doesn't mean the weekend is cancelled. There are plenty of options, indoors and out to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the Blue Mountains, even when fog smothers everything.
Bushwalking tracks in the Blue Mountains after heavy rain can turn into creeks. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
All locations have been chosen to offer a variety of views whilst keeping you as dry as possible.
Outdoor lookouts viewable from your car
View of Narrowneck Plateau from Cahill's Lookout (car park). Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
The following lookouts work equally well for the un-outdoorsy type, the parents with kids asleep in the car, the elderly, the injured, the infirm, the stubborn teenager or pretty much anyone who's not keen on hiking in the rain to see a view.
The tour buses will always head straight for Echo Point but it's not the only lookout where you can see the famed rock formation, the Three Sisters (which are completely hidden when it's misty unless you walk right down to them).
Eagle Hawk Lookout Katoomba. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
Eagle Hawk Lookout There's only room for three cars but often I find, I'm the only visitor. Excellent views of the Three Sisters. There's about fifteen to twenty steps down to the actual lookout but there's a good view from the road.
Head to Scenic World, drive past it and look for the blue sign about 500 meters along Cliff Drive.
From Eagle Hawk Lookout, if you continue along the Blue Mountains Scenic Drive, you'll come to Narrow Neck Lookout.
Follow the Blue Mountains Scenic Drive (BMD) road signs for impressive lookouts.
Narrow Neck Lookout
This is the ultimate convenient lookout. Drive in, see the view from the car, drive out. This offers distant views of the Megalong Valley and also the Narrowneck Plateau. The zig-zag dirt track, is more of a 4WD track (large potholes, steep, narrow road) but offers pockets of views from both sides.
Narrowneck Lookout, Katoomba, looking onto the plateau with Megalong valley visible in the background. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
Further along the Blue Mountains Drive, Cahill's Lookout has been recently refurbished. The view from the car park is fantastic however if you wish to be further immersed you can walk down the path to the cliff edge. I really liked the different kinds of scenery from plateau to farmland to cliffs. The caves in the cliff spark wonder.
Cahill's Lookout, Katoomba. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
Govetts Leap Lookout
Govetts Leap lookout in Blackheath gives the easiest access to the upper Grose Valley and Bridal Veil Falls. The car park is only metres from the lookout however to see the falls you'll need to get out of the car. It's totally worth it though.
Rain creeping up the upper Gross Valley at Govett's Leap Lookout, Blackheath. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
About 20 minutes drive from Springwood, along Hawksbury Road, (just past the Hawksbury YHA), you'll find Yarramundi Lookout which offers a rare view over the Penrith Lakes region. It's a nice stop for a picnic but you won't see anything if it's foggy.
Beyond the Blue Mountains is the Capertee Valley. Wider than the Grand Canyon, a haven for bird life and possibly more spectacular than Echo Point. Put this one on the list if you're doing a day trip to historical Portland or the wineries of Mudgee. The lookout is on the Castleraegh Highway on the right after Cullen Bullen and before Capertee village.
Capertee Valley Lookout on the way to Mudgee. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
If the rain turns to mist, then places that offer close up sightseeing are ideal.
Best lookouts for misty days.
Fern trees, Mt Wilson, Blue Mountains. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
Mist filled days in the Blue Mountains are my favourite. There's a strange quietness that occurs when it's misty, blocking out all but the chattering of rosellas and the screeching cries of cockatoos interrupted by water droplets plopping onto gum leaves.
Fog rarely hangs around all day. Often within a matter of minutes, it can clear to reveal a panoramic vista. Having said that, mountains in mist goes together like a Tim Tam dipped in double cream, they were meant to be together. Mist creates atmosphere and makes for striking photographs.
Wentworth Falls Lake in fog is like visiting a far away land, cross between the Scottish Highlands and a deserted island; where you'd expect an uncontacted tribe to appear, as you arrive in a canoe wearing a safari hat.
To get there, turn into Wentworth Falls shops at the traffic lights, go over the bridge, and take the next left. The lake is after the canopy of trees.
Mist clearing on the far side of Wentworth Falls Lake feels like you've discovered a new island. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
Mount Wilson is a picture perfect village famous for it's English style gardens and autumn foliage. If you continue on to Mount Irvine, the bush turns into wild rainforest and you'll drive through a naturally created tunnel. Add mist to this scenery and it's like venturing through a jurassic-esque land. The stringy bark dangling over the road seems unusually creepy in fog. Mt Irvine is famous for pick-your-own nuts.
Follow the signs to Bell, turn right at Bell and then turn left at the sign for Mount Wilson.
Misty scenes in Mount Wilson and Mount Irvine, upper Blue Mountains. Photos by Jade Jackson Photography.
Perry's Lookdown near Blackheath in thick fog gives the sensation of having reached the ends of the earth. There's a dirt road to drive along for several kilometers followed by a 15-20 minute walk down steep stairs. There are high rail guards and rocks can be slippery. Not for those with vertigo or fear of heights.
Turn East onto Hat Hill Road (off Great Western Highway) and follow the signs to Perry's Lookdown.
Be cautious if walking along any trails in foggy conditions and stick only to well marked paths. I very nearly walked straight off a cliff; it was only by chance a momentary clearing showed the 200 metre drop to the valley below.
If you've had enough of the outdoors, there are plenty of indoor options where you can still get your view fix whilst filling your belly with delicious treats.
Indoor venues with excellent views
View from the Hydro Majestic Hotel, Medlow Bath. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
The Katoomba Library looks over the town and the Jameson Valley. Plonk into a beanbag, relish the serenity and revel in the two storey window that captures the entire scene. There's an art gallery ($5 entry), gift shop, which has locally crafted souvenirs and a coffee shop that opens out to a balcony.
Car parking is available beneath the library in the Coles car park. Entry from Park st.
View from the balcony at Katoomba Library. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
The Conservation Hut Cafe
Located near Valley of the Waters in Wentworth Falls. The Conservation Hut menu has a wide variety of meals, an extensive tea list and is surrounded by bush with glimpses of the valley.
Fletcher Street, Wentworth Falls. PH: 02 4757 3827. Open 7 days.
View from the balcony on a misty day at Conservation Hut Cafe, Wentworth Falls.
The Hydro Majestic
Famous for its grandiosity and impeccable westward views overlooking the Megalong Valley. Sip high tea which starts from $55 and there's a kiddies version for $35. Want to know your fortune? Mystic High Tea readings start 20 June. The Boiler House cafe adjacent enjoys similar views.
52-88 Great Western Highway Medlow Bath. PH: 02 4782 6885. Open 7 days.
The Tomah Gardens Restaurant, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden, Mount Tomah.
The gardens are free to enter and The Tomah Gardens Restaurant has a large balcony overlooking the gardens and Wollemi National Park. The chef uses only locally sourced, quality produce so the menu changes regularly with the seasons. If you're heading to Mt Wilson this is a good option.
Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah, 2758. PH: 0421552746
View from the Tomah Gardens Restaurant, Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
Mountain Heritage Hotel & Spa
This boutique hotel sits high above Leura and it's in-house restaurant and lounge area is warm, cosy and its classic vintage styling will make you feel like you've stepped back in time.
Corner of Apex and Lovel Street Katoomba. PH: 02 4782 2155.