The most-visited lookout in the Blue Mountains, Echo Point Lookout in Katoomba attracts an estimated 1.5 to 2 million visitors each year. Multiple viewing platforms offer spectacular views of the iconic Three Sisters as well as Mount Solitary and Ruined Castle in the Jamison Valley.
The lookout was originally named Tri Saxa (“three stones”) Point after the three weathered sandstone peaks that jut above the Jamison Valley and are the most dominant feature. (It was renamed in 1890 as “Echo Point”.)
The lookout was part of a private estate (Sir Frederick Darley’s ‘Lilianfels’) until 1908, and between 1879 and 1925 it was an industrial landscape with shale and coal mines operating between Narrow Neck and Mount Solitary. However, Echo Point became increasingly popular from the mid 1920s for its breathtaking views, and in 1934 a large “projecting platform” was constructed.
Not more than a mile from the railway station, and, therefore, really in the town, is Echo Point, a marvellous lookout over the Jamieson Valley. Here is savage mountain scenery at its best. In the middle distance stands the isolated mass of Mt. Solitary, a detached plateau like our own Tamborine. The delicate blue haze of distance floats over the whole vast panorama, and black cloud shadows move across the forests outspread far below and beyond. The shattered spur, known as the Three Sisters, three separate sandstone pinnacles, seems only a stone’s throw away-till one wanders down one of the winding paths towards the spot.The Blue Mountains in The Brisbane Courier, Sat 18 Jul 1931
The Legend of the Three Sisters
There are different versions of the Aboriginal story of the Three Sisters (Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo) which feature in the Dreamtime stories of the original custodians of this area – the Gundungurra and Darug people. There is some scepticism as to whether the indigenous stories are genuine, or a “legend” created in the 1940s by Europeans, although there is no doubt that that Three Sisters played a role in Aboriginal mythology and the area is now recognised as an Aboriginal Place.
One legend tells a story of love and war:
The Three Sisters play an important part in Aboriginal history and, according to legend, were once three beautiful sisters called Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo. The sisters fell in love with three brothers in the neighbouring tribe– something that was forbidden under tribal law. To rebel against the law, the brothers set out to capture the women and make them their brides. This led to a major war between the two tribes, with the entire region in battle. A witchdoctor from the sister’s tribe decided to help the women. Transforming them into stone during the battle in order to protect them. He planned to reverse the spell and bring the women back to life after the battle ended. But sadly, the witchdoctor was killed in battle, and no one else had the power to turn the women back to people. Leaving the three sisters to remain as the large rock formations for all eternity. Standing mournfully high above the Jamison Valley, never to be human again.
An alternate tale blames an angry bunyip for the three sisters being turned to stone.
This tale begins with Tyawan, the local tribe’s witch doctor. Tyanwan had three daughters; named Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo. Whenever Tyawan left his three daughters alone to get food, he had to pass by a hole and leave the girls behind a rocky wall on a cliff. He left the girls behind the rocky wall to protect them, as it was known that a Bunyip, the most feared creature in the land, resided in the deep dark hole. One day, as Tyawan did as he always did, and passed through the hole in search of food, a large centipede crawled up next to the girls. The centipede scared the daughter meenhi so much that she threw a rock at it. The rock missed and fell down the hole which angered Bunyip. He emerged from his hole and faced the girls. Tyawan, was returning from his hunt, saw the girls in danger from afar, turned them to stone with his magic bone to protect them from the creature. Bunyip became enraged and chased after Tyawan, in which Tyawan escape has a lyrebird, but lost his magic bone in the process. Without his magic bone, he was unable to change himself or his daughters back to humans, forever searching for his bone. Nowadays, if visiting you can still hear the call of the lyrebird around the rocks, always in search for its magic bone.
Bushwalks from Echo Point
While Echo Point Lookout is reached via a short, paved and wheelchair-accessible walk, it’s also the starting point for a number of bushwalks:
- Three Sisters Track, a family-friendly walk that descends to the Oreades Lookout and Lady Game lookout, before a steep set of stairs down to Honeymoon Bridge at the base of the first sister (0.8km return)
- Prince Henry Walk follows the top of the cliffs, in both directions. To the north, the track passes 17 more lookouts and the top of Leura Cascades, before reaching the end of Gordon Road in Leura (5.2km one-way). Head west, and the trail passes 12 lookouts before reaching the Scenic Skyway in Katoomba (2.5km one-way).
- The Giant Stairway descends steeply into the valley, and provides access to a number of longer bushwalks through the Jamison Valley (it connects to the Dardenelles Pass)
Facilities at the lookout
The lookout is just outside the Blue Mountains National Park, and is managed by the Blue Mountains City Council. There are a number of facilities here including:
- Visitor Centre open daily 9am to 4pm. Closed Christmas Day
- Kiosk (drinks, food and souvenirs)
Getting to Echo Point
Echo Point about 2km south of Katoomba along Cliff Drive, and has a large parking area (parking fees payable) and is serviced by buses from Katoomba.
- National Parks (NPWS) – Echo Point lookout (Three Sisters)
- Dictionary of Sydney – Echo Point