Blackheath is located near the highest point (1065 metres) of the Blue Mountains, between Katoomba and Mount Victoria, about 120 km west northwest of Sydney CBD. With its lovely misty days when the clouds sit low over the mountains, Blackheath is reminiscent of a beautiful Scottish village.
The region was thought to be a summer corroboree meeting place for several Indigenous peoples of the Darug, Gundungurra and Wiradjuri nations. Following European settlement of Australia, the area was named Hounslow. After crossing the Blue Mountains in 1815 and returning from Bathurst, Governor Lachlan Macquarie renamed the settlement as “Black-Heath”, in reference to the colour and texture of the native shrubbery in the area. Macquarie recorded in his journal: “This place having a black wild appearance I have this day named it Black-Heath.“
The first building in Blackheath, the “Scotch Thistle Inn“, was erected by Andrew Gardner in 1831 and Charles Darwin visited the inn in 1836. It was located slightly south of the present Gardners Inn Hotel. The original staircase from “The Scotch Thistle” has been preserved and can be found in Gardners Hotel. The land originally granted to Gardner was the area bounded by the Great Western Highway, Govetts Leap Road and the misspelt Gardiners Crescent.
Blackheath developed into a town after the Main Western railway line was built in 1869. The current train station was completed in 1883. Blackheath’s original post office opened in 1910 and has now been converted into a gift shop and cafe.
The town’s shopping centre has a relaxed atmosphere. Of particular interest is the former Victory Theatre which is now transformed into a spectacular antique centre. The outside of the Victory Theatre displays a colourful mural designed by artist Jenny Kee and painted in 1985 by members of the local community on behalf of the Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre.
A large dam built to supply water for railway steam engines became the public baths well before steam operations ceased upon electrification. The baths opened for public swimming in 1931 and since then have been redeveloped to include swimming pools, children’s play facilities and surrounding park lands.
Blackheath Views and Bushwalks
The area around Blackheath contains some of the most dramatic gorge and canyon landscapes in the Blue Mountains. It offers spectacular views over the Grose Valley from Govetts Leap and Evans Lookout in the east. On the western side of Blackheath, past the tiny hamlet of Shipley, are the lesser-known lookouts – Hargraves Lookout and Mount Blackheath Lookout with extensive views over the Megalong and Kanimbla Valleys. A trip down into the Grose Valley will lead you to Edenderry and Hilary Falls. You can start the Grand Canyon Walk from Neates Glen along Evans Lookout Road and visit Beauchamp Falls. Turn into Walls Cave Road off Evans Lookout Road and you will discover Aboriginal history with Walls Cave which is believed to have been occupied around 12,000 years ago.
Annual and seasonal highlights
Blackheath is known for its colourful blooms in Spring, with daffodils blooming in September. The ornamental cherry trees that line the streets are usually in full bloom in the first week of October and are considered one of the spectacles of the Blue Mountains. However, it is most famous for its annual “Rhododendron Festival” held on the first weekend of November each year. The festival weekend includes some unusual activities such as the Chainsaw Competition. However the Rhododendrons are the major draw card as they are absolutely amazing.
Blackheath hosts many many events throughout the year. On the 2nd weekend in April, when Blackheath is filled with avenues of the most beautiful Autumn colours, the Blackheath Wine Fair is held, featuring cool climate wines, gourmet foods and music. The Blackheath Art Society’s Members Exhibition is held during Easter.
Blackheath shows spectacular golden foliage as the weather begins to cool in Autumn. As the highest town in the Blue Mountains, Blackheath often has snow in winter – usually only 1 -2 falls during the winter season.
Blackheath Memorial Park
Local indigenous people of the Darug tribal group are believed to have used this area as a camp site prior to European settlement, due to its reliable water supply and abundant wildlife. These water bodies were used as dams collecting water for the railway and for the golf course between 1909 and 1914. The railway dams were converted into the first swimming pools and the duck pond in the period following 1906. Blackheath Pool ◄ Back Next ► Picture 1 of 9 The area was dedicated as a recreation...
Campbell Rhododendron Gardens
The Campbell Rhododendron Gardens are located in Bachante Street, Blackheath, just a short distance northeast from the town centre. It is more familiarly and affectionately known as the Blackheath Rhodo Garden by locals. Created in 1970 on 18.5 hectares of mountain bushland 1065 metres above sea level, the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens was named an Australian National Treasure by Traveller Magazine in 2011. It is considered unique for its large-scale exotic plantings of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, flowering cherries, dogwood, maples and other deciduous trees within a pristine, natural bush setting....
On the south western side of Blackheath, past the tiny hamlet of Shipley, are two lesser known but nevertheless equally spectacular lookouts – Hargraves Lookout and Mount Blackheath Lookout. To get to Shipley from Blackheath, cross the railway line at the traffic lights and head towards Megalong Valley where you will turn into Shipley Road. You will drive through lovely mountain landscapes with beautiful apple orchards, gum trees and lush foilage on the way to the Shipley Plateau, passing by the Shipley Gallery showcasing local artists (open weekends 10am-...
Wind Eroded Cave
From the same carpark as for the Anvil Rock, a sign to the left marks the way for a 400-metre, 5-minute walk to the Wind Eroded Cave. Wind Eroded Cave ◄ Back Next ► Picture 1 of 4 Depending on the season, it is possible to see wild boronia, flannel flowers, Erica, mountain devil, banksia, grevillea, scribbly gums and other plant along the trail. The cave is more correctly a giant overhang, with extraordinary honeycomb formations in matching honey-coloured sedimentary rocks. As its name suggests, the formation was created...
Anvil Rock (GPS: 33.595487°S 150.339451°E) is an often overlooked attraction of the Blue Mountains. To get there, follow the mostly-gravel Hat Hill road from Blackheath. Any 2WD vehicle can traverse the road. On arriving at a fork, take the left turnoff to Anvil Rock. The right turnoff leads to Perrys Lookdown. The road continues for a further 500 metres to a small carpark. To the right, a sign marks the start of a short 0.5 km, 5 minutes moderate walk to the Anvil Rock overlooking the Grose Valley. Along...
Perrys Lookdown is located in Blackheath at the end of a 8 km dirt road Anvil Ridge beyond Hat Hill Road (GPS: 33.600139°S 150.346972°E). Perrys Lookdown ◄ Back Next ► Picture 1 of 7 It is presumably named after Captain William Perry, the Deputy Surveyor General who worked under the leadership of Sir Thomas Mitchell. It offers grand views from the top of the escarpment into the Grose Valley and of the imposing sandstone cliffs of Mount Banks. A 5.5 hours return bushwalk to the majestic Blue Gum Forest...
Evans Lookout, located at the top of the escarpment at the end of Evans Lookout Road (GPS 33.647019°S 150.326796°E), provides an alternative vantage point for views of the Grose Valley. It is named after George Evans who discovered the lookout and the entry to the Grose Valley in 1882. There is a memorial erected to him at the site. View of Grose Valley from Evans Lookout ◄ Back Next ► Picture 1 of 10 The area consists of Triassic sandstones and underlying Permian sedimentary rocks. A number...
From Blackheath town centre, a short drive to the east takes visitors to Govetts Leap (GPS 33.627926°S 150.311518°E), a lookout with spectacular views of the Grose Valley and nearby waterfalls. Govetts Leap was named after William Romaine Govett, one of the first surveyors of the upper Blue Mountains, who discovered this spot in June 1831. Govetts Leap Lookout ◄ Back Next ► Picture 1 of 12 A horse and rider monument in the park beside the Great Western Highway at Blackheath village tells the story about Govetts Leap....