Cool Mountains – Your Mid Mountains Guide for Escaping the Heat This Summer 

A cool shower from a hanging swamp near Adelina Falls, Lawson

Story and photos by Belle Butler

When temperatures soar and your home heats up, tempers can easily become frayed and your health can take a hit. Not everyone has the benefit of air-conditioning, and all-day running costs are prohibitive for many people. In this guide we’ve provided some tips to help you cool down, and a sample of free and low-cost places to visit in the mid-mountains area to escape the heat. 

You can also visit or call the Blue Mountains Visitor Information Centres at Glenbrook or Katoomba for more ideas on where to go and what to do when the weather heats up or you’re not sure about the conditions. Also check out our other Cool Mountains Guides in the Lower Mountains, Springwood area, Katoomba area and Blackheath area.

Health and Safety in the heat

If you are sweltering at home or venturing out and about in the heat, the NSW Department of Health’s Keep cool, stay hydrated” online guide is a good starting point to help you, your family and friends stay safe during high temperatures.

The Department advises you should drink plenty of water regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty. If your doctor has asked that you limit your fluid intake, ask how much water you should drink during hot weather. Do not replace your water intake with alcoholic or sugary drinks and carry water with you if you are spending time outdoors.

If you prefer to stay at home, the Department provides the following tips, especially helpful if you don’t have air-conditioning and/or your fans aren’t making a big impact:

  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothes.
  • Avoid being outdoors in the hottest part of the day as much as possible. If you have to go outside, seek shade or shelter.
  • Close curtains and blinds to block out the sun.
  • Spend time in the coolest area of your home.
  • Limit physical activity e.g. household chores or exercise to early in the morning when it is coolest.
  • Use stoves and ovens as little as possible as these can heat up the home.
  • Wet your skin with cool water using a spray bottle or a damp sponge or cloth.
  • Place cool packs or crushed ice in a damp towel loosely over your neck and shoulders.
  • Take cool showers or baths or sit for a while with your feet in cool water.
  • When it becomes cooler outside, open your windows and doors to allow the warm air out and the cool air in.

The Department recommends people seek out cool places or air-conditioned public facilities you can safely travel to without getting too hot. When outdoors, you should protect yourself from the sun by applying sunscreen and wearing sun-protective clothing, sunglasses and a wide brim hat.

The following guide provides ideas for places you can visit in the mid-mountains to cool down, in air-conditioning and outdoors.   

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Note – pet-friendly sites don’t necessarily mean it is an off-leash area. Check with the venue before letting your dog off leash

Community Spaces

Many community spaces across the Mountains offer indoor air-conditioned areas. They are free to access and can provide social interaction as well as a cool place to hang out. So, if you are feeling the heat, head into one of these friendly environments – take a book, your laptop or some puzzles and settle in for a respite from the heat. 

Lawson Library

Lawson Library

The library is a short stroll from Lawson Train Station and is open every day except for Sundays. You can peruse a selection of books, magazines or newspapers, use a computer or bring your own and do some work. Patrons are asked to be respectful of the library space and quiet activities are encouraged here.

OPENING HOURS:

Mon and Tues:   1pm-5pm

Wed, Thurs, Fri:   10am-5pm

Saturday:   9am-noon

Sunday: CLOSED

LOCATION:

Loftus Street, Lawson

WEBSITE:

https://library.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Lawson Train Station (approx. 2 min walk)

Bus Routes: 690K

Mid Mountains Neighbourhood Centre

The Neighbourhood Centre boasts a pleasant outdoor courtyard with ample shade from trees. It also has several community activities on offer, which can be found here.

The Neighbourhood Centre is conveniently located in town, where you will also find a selection of cafes, restaurants, and The Henry Pub, all of which provide air-conditioned spaces at the additional cost of a drink or meal.

OPENING HOURS:

Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs:   9am – 4pm

Fri:   9am – 1pm 

Sat and Sun – CLOSED 

LOCATION:

9 New Street, Lawson

WEBSITE:

https://www.belongbm.org.au/

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Lawson Train Station (approx. 3 min walk) 

Bus Routes: 690K

Heatherbrae

Heatherbrae, a ‘drop in’ child and family service coordinated by Connect Children and Families, is a real asset to families in the Blue Mountains. Located in Lawson township, it provides indoor and outdoor spaces for young children to play.

Heatherbrae is free to access, has a large selection of toys, and the staff provide snacks and support to families who visit. While it does NOT have air-conditioning, and therefore may not be appropriate on the hottest days for families who are particularly affected by heat, Heatherbrae often has water-play options on offer. 

OPENING HOURS:

Mon-Fri 9:30-12:30

Sat 10-12

LOCATION:

1 Benang Street, Lawson

WEBSITE:

https://www.connectcfs.org.au/support-and-services/connect-early/

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Lawson Train Station (approx. 3 min walk) 

Bus Routes: 690K

Public Outdoor Areas

Dr Cybele Dey from Doctors for the Environment Australia states: “Heatwaves in Australia kill more people than all the other disasters combined. Trees are one of the ways that we can really reduce people’s exposure to heat.” Trees can in fact lower temperatures significantly. They provide cooling shade and release water vapour into the air through their leaves when they transpire.

We are fortunate in the Blue Mountains to be surrounded by heavily vegetated areas and many perennial waterways that are fed by hanging swamps. Below are some Mid Mountains options for taking a dip or retreating to the naturally cooler surroundings of our bush.

Bullaburra – Minnatonka Falls

FERNS at minnatonka bullaburra

Cool under the canopy – ferns on the Bullaburra Minnetonka walk.

This little retreat from the heat is an easy stroll from either Boronia Road (trail starts at Red Gum park between house numbers 17 and 19) or the end of De Quency Road. A decent flow of water may be scarce during prolonged periods without rain, but even a trickle under the trees can provide the desired cooling effect.

SAFETY INFO:

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you’re visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips. See also these important bushwalking safety tips >

OPENING HOURS:

Open all year round, but please take note of official warnings during extreme weather.

LOCATION:

Two trails lead to the Falls. One can be accessed from Red Gum Park between 17 and 19 Boronia Road (see map below) and the other can be accessed at the end of De Quency Road. 



PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Bullaburra Train Station (7 min walk)

Bus routes: 690K

North Lawson Waterfalls – Fairy Falls, Dantes Glen, St Michaels Falls, Frederica Falls

dantes glen waterfall lawson

Dante’s Glen, Lawson

I highly recommend packing a picnic and spending the day down at any one of these waterfalls, hop-skipping your way along the streams and finding a secluded spot on a mossy rock, or utilising the newly upgraded Empire Pass track to visit all waterfalls in the area.

For middle-grade youth with a bit of nerve, pack local Lawson author Antony Mann’s latest book, The Ghosts of Lawson, and read on-location at Dante’s Glen.

SAFETY INFO:

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you’re visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips. See also these important bushwalking safety tips >

OPENING HOURS:

Open all year round, but please take note of official warnings during extreme weather.

LOCATION:

Closest access point for Fairy Falls, Dantes Glen and St Michaels Falls – North Lawson Park, end of St Bernards Drive. For Empire Pass, access trail head from the end of San Jose Avenue.



PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Lawson Train Station (10-15 min walk to trail heads)

Bus routes: 690K

South Lawson Five Waterfall Loop

waterfall circuit lawson

Enjoy several options on the Five Waterfall Loop Track, Lawson

This track offers a feast of hot weather retreats. The temperature difference on a hot day is markedly noticeable and the surrounds are magical. The track is steep in some parts, but much of it is level and easily managed by kids. Normally a loop track offering a choice of 5 waterfalls, because of a rockfall it’s currrently a one way return walk from either end, with no access between Junction Falls and the Federal Falls turnoff. Click here to view the BMCC notice and map detailing the changes.

SAFETY INFO:

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you’re visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips. See also these important bushwalking safety tips >

OPENING HOURS:

Open all year round, but please take note of official warnings during extreme weather.

LOCATION:

Carpark on corner of Honour Avenue and Livingstone Street (for Adelina Falls and Junction Falls), or the southern car park off Honour Avenue near Cataract St (for Cataract Falls and Federal Falls) 



PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Lawson Train Station (approx. 1km)

Bus routes: 690K

Lawson Swim Centre

lawson pool

Lawson Pool on a quiet day

Lawson Swim Centre offers FREE entry to anyone over the age of 75 years and children under 3 years.  Accompanying parents and adults pay a $7.10 entry fee or concession $5.40. Multi-passes are also available.

Nearby Wilson Park, with newly refurbished historic Australia Map, is free to visit, open all year round, and has cooler shady areas as well as a stream running through it.

OPENING HOURS:

Opening last weekend in September. Closing first weekend in April.

Monday to Friday 6am – 6pm

Saturday & Sunday 8am – 6pm

Public Holidays 8am – 6pm

December to February 8pm close every day (except Fridays & Public Holidays the Centre closes at 6pm)

LOCATION:

St Bernard’s Drive, Lawson



WEBSITE:

https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/blue-mountains-leisure-centres/leisure-centres

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Lawson Train Station (5-10 min walk)

Bus routes: 690K

Hazelbrook – Terrace Falls Reserve

terrace falls hazelbrook

In the cool of a rock ledge at Terrace Falls, Hazelbrook

Enjoy the cooling effect of this rainforest walk with access to waterfalls, streams and swimming holes with lots of options to swim, splash and relax in the shade. There is a partial closure of this walk due to a rockfall, with access to Terrace Falls only available from car park 2 (see this map for details). Other tracks to Bedford Creek can be accessed from car park 1 (see map).

SAFETY INFO:

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you’re visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips. See also these important bushwalking safety tips >

OPENING HOURS:

Open all year round, but please take note of official warnings during extreme weather.

LOCATION:

Trail head at the end of Terrace Falls Road – see the BMCC map and partial track closure notice for car park and access details.



PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Trail head is 1.5 kms from Hazelbrook Train Station

Bus routes: 690K

Hazelbrook – Horseshoe Falls/Oaklands Falls/Burgess Falls

The great thing about this track is the immediate accessibility of streams. If you don’t fancy a longer walk to the waterfalls, you can do a short stroll from the carpark and splash in the upper sections of the stream.

SAFETY INFO:

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you’re visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips. See also these important bushwalking safety tips >

OPENING HOURS:

Open all year round, but please take note of official warnings during extreme weather.

LOCATION:

Trail head on Oaklands Road, before it curves and turns into Hall Parade



PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Hazelbrook Train Station

Woodford – Murphys Glen/Bedford Creek

murphys glen lawson

Murphys Glen

Bedford Creek is a perennial stream that can be accessed via the road to Murphys Glen Campground. It’s a steep track down, but with opportunities to explore and find your own favourite swimming spot, it’s worth the effort.

For Murphys Glen Campground or day use area, continue on Murphys Road to the end. If you wish to camp overnight, please book through National Parks. From the day use carpark, follow a track to pretty upper and lower Waterfalls on a quiet tributary to Bedford Creek.

SAFETY INFO:

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you’re visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips. See also these important bushwalking safety tips >

OPENING HOURS:

Open all year round, but please take note of official warnings during extreme weather.

LOCATION:

Campground is a short walk from the end of Murphys Road, Woodford.



WEBSITE:

https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/camping-and-accommodation/campgrounds/murphys-glen-campground

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Keen mountain bikers can catch a train to Woodford and ride from there. Otherwise, a car is recommended.

Linden – Paradise Pool

paradise pool wildlife

Escape the heat in our magical World Heritage Area and you may meet some curious creatures along the way

This natural water hole with a pretty waterfall has become an increasingly popular swimming spot in recent years. The water hole is accessible through a reasonably short walk from the Bulls Creek Reserve off Tollgate Road in Linden. The walk is approx. 3 km and has some challenging aspects which would not be suitable for people with mobility issues. 

SAFETY INFO:

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and lagoons can be unpredictable. If you’re visiting these areas, take note of these river and lake safety tips. See also these important bushwalking safety tips >

OPENING HOURS:

Open all year round, but please take note of official warnings during extreme weather.

LOCATION:

3km walk from Tollgate Road. Easiest access is via the trail from Railway Parade close to Linden train station. If driving, take the Tollgate Drive exit from Great Western Highway and then turn into Railway Parade. After a couple hundred metres, you will arrive at a designated car park. 



PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Linden Train Station (15 min walk) 

Bus routes: 690K

Further Reading

New Scientist – Trees Cool the Land Surface Temperature of Cities by up to 12°C

WWF – Trees Lower Temperatures in a Sydney Street By 20 Degrees

Trees – The Forgotten Heroes For Our Health

About Belle Butler

Belle Butler is a writer, musician and occasional photographer. She likes mix-and-matching these artforms and often explores the same themes through each of them. Her short fiction has been published in numerous Australian literary journals and she recently received a WestWords Fellowship and Mentorship with Delia Falconer for her novel manuscript, ‘River.’ Hopefully it will be published one day.

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