In 2000, the Great Blue Mountains Area became a World Heritage Site inscribed on the World Heritage List during the 24th session of the World Heritage Committee. This 1,032,649-hectare area incorporates seven national parks, a conservation reserve, and is one of the largest protected forests in Australia.
Archaeological studies have found that the Blue Mountains were formed during the Pliocene Epoch period over one million years ago. Over time, the Blue Mountains were densely populated by Eucalyptus trees and became a haven for a variety of flora and fauna. With time this massive forest evolved to create a truly unique environment.
The first inhabitants of the Blue Mountains were Australian Aboriginals, dating further back than can accurately be recorded. Aboriginal art shows that the Daruk Tribe goes remarkably far back into history; preserved still today is the famous ancient carving “the flight of the Great Grey Kangaroo.”
While the Blue Mountains were originally called “Carmarthen Hills” and “Landsdowne Hills” by early European settlers, this eventually changed because of the distinctive blue haze that surrounds the area due to a combination of water vapour, dust, and oil from the Eucalyptus trees.
The Blue Mountains are a massive swatch of land that intimidated even the most seasoned explorer back in the day. The rough terrain and lack of resources made it impossible to trek until three brave men dared the journey. Gregory Blaxland, William Charles Wentworth, and Lieutenant Lawson were the first to claim victory (just barely) of passage through the Blue Mountains in just 18 days in May of 1813.
With the passage of the Blue Mountains complete, a new era began. Starting with a road built in just 6 months spanning one hundred and one miles. Soon after, a military post was created for communication with Bathurst and as a way to protect travellers. After that came a gold rush that attracted many Chinese settlers who wanted to sell their skills and merchandise within the mountains.
History continues to make its mark with the ever-advancing age of technology. Soon-to-follow came a railway, hotels, towns, and roads for first horse-drawn carriages and subsequently for motor vehicles. It was not much later that the Blue Mountains became a booming tourist destination that would draw over a million visitors each year.