Cool Mountains – Your Guide to Beating the Heat in Blackheath & Surrounds

grand canyon walk

There are plenty of cool shady areas and water on the stunning Grand Canyon walk (Photo: Blue Mountains Adventure Company)

Story by Hamish Dunlop

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 upper Blue Mountains free and low-cost places to visit 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, Mid Mountains, and Katoomba 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 Blackheath area 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

Cool Community Spaces

Blackheath Library

Librarian Emma Gray at the air-conditioned Blackheath Library. (Hamish Dunlop)

Blackheath Library provides a full range of services including books for all ages, magazines, audio books, DVDs, PC internet access, free WIFI and printing facilities. The library is air-conditioned and there is street parking. Opening hours are limited, so please check below.

OPENING HOURS:

Monday 10am – 2pm | Tuesday 1pm – 5pm | Wednesday closed | Thursday 10am – 2pm | Friday 1pm – 5pm | Saturday 9am – 12pm | Sunday closed.

LOCATION:

Blackheath Community Hall, Great Western Highway, Blackheath.

WEBSITE:

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

CONTACT:

Phone: (02) 4780 5901.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

1-minutes’ walk from Blackheath Station or the 698 bus from Katoomba.

Public Outdoor Areas

Being under tree canopies is a great way to shelter from summer heat. Trees provide shade, but also keep the air moist through evaporative cooling. Outdoor spaces including creeks, waterfalls, pools and dams can also keep us cool and being in nature is wonderful food for the soul.

Blackheath Gardens

Katoomba Local Kasia Olszewski keeping cool at Blackheath Gardens. (Hamish Dunlop)

Blackheath Gardens has grassy areas and shade provided by conifers, rhododendrons, camellias and other exotics. There are picnic tables, a water bubbler and swings for children and toddlers.  The Gardens also includes various paths and a war memorial built in 1929.

OPENING HOURS:

24 hours.

LOCATION:

The Gardens are opposite the Blackheath Station on the corner of Great Western Highway and Hat Hill Road.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Opposite Blackheath Station and accessible via the 698 bus heading from Katoomba.

Blackheath Soldiers Memorial Park & Pool

blackheath rocket park

The famous rocket at Blackheath Soldiers Memorial Park (Hamish Dunlop)

Blackheath Soldiers Memorial Park has a wide range of play equipment, picnic tables, electric BBQs and shelters, public toilets, duck pond and a track head to nearby bushwalks. It has lovely old-style sweeping lawns and well-established cold climate plants. The play area and duck pond have recently been upgraded to include cooler spaces and a water play feature. Read more here: https://blackheathnews.com/blackheath-soldiers-memorial-park/

Blackheath Pool (Hamish Dunlop)

Blackheath pool is an unheated, seasonal, outdoor swimming centre. It opens from the first weekend in November and closes in the first weekend in March. The pool area includes a 25m lane swimming pool, a freeform pool and a toddlers’ pool. There are generous spaces around the pools to enjoy too.

LOCATION:

Gardiners Crescent, Blackheath.

PARK WEBSITE:

https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/recreation/parks-sportgrounds-courts/blackheath-soldiers-memorial-park

PARK OPENING HOURS:

24 hours.

POOL WEBSITE:

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

POOL OPENING HOURS:

Monday to Friday: 7am – 6.30pm | Weekends 9.30am – 6.30pm |
Public holidays 9.30am – 6.30pm. The Council has in the past extended the opening hours of the pool on very hot evenings. Check on the day.

POOL ENTRY FEES:   
Blue Mountains City Council provides free entry to the aquatic facilities for people 3 years and younger and 75 years and older. Adult entry is $7.10 and concession is $5.40.

CONTACT:

(02) 4787 8018 | Email: leisurecentres@bmcc.nsw.gov.au.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

The park and pool are 7-minutes’ walk from Blackheath Station.

Mt Victoria Memorial Park

The park is open and spacious with different areas and play equipment to choose from. The toilets are not far from the play equipment. There are two shelters including one next to the tennis court and large trees that provide respite from the sun. The Mt Victoria shops are close by. Cafés are open Wednesday to Sunday if you want to grab a coffee and a bite to eat.

OPENING HOURS:

24 hours.

LOCATION:

2-14 Station St, Mount Victoria.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

The park is 6-minutes’ walk from Mt Victoria Station.

Medlow Bath Park

medlow bath park

Shaded play area with benches under trees at Medlow Bath Park. (Hamish Dunlop)

The park can be accessed from Railway Parade opposite Medlow Bath Station. It includes grassy areas and larger trees for shade. There is a covered area too. Toilets and a variety of play equipment make the park family-friendly. There are tennis courts nearby. Pot Belly Café is located a few minutes up the road for drinks, meals and quick takeaways.

OPENING HOURS:

24 hours.

LOCATION:

Railway Parade, Medlow Bath.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

The park is opposite Medlow Bath Station and accessible from Katoomba via the 698 bus.  

Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah

The Botanic Garden has shaded and open outdoor spaces. It showcases local and imported cool climate plants and is surrounded by UNESCO World Heritage Area wilderness. Enjoy the walking trails, plant displays, or take a pitstop at Tomah Café with mountain views. The visitors’ centre and the café are both cooled by natural ventilation.

OPENING HOURS:

9am – 5pm. Visitor Centre: 9:30am – 5pm.

CAFÉ OPENING HOURS:

9.30am to 3pm.

LOCATION:

Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah.

WEBSITE:

https://www.botanicgardens.org.au/blue-mountains-botanic-garden-mount-tomah

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Practically accessible by car only.

Campbell Rhododendron Gardens

Rhododendron Gardens

A shaded walking path at the Rhododendron Gardens. (Hamish Dunlop)

Campbell Rhododendron Gardens is an eighteen-hectare site with rhododendrons and other exotics underneath eucalyptus trees. There is plenty of shade as you traverse the walking tracks, as well as picnic benches and shelters. The lake and ponds help keep the air cool. Parking and toilets are available.

OPENING HOURS:

24 hours (pedestrians) | PARKING: March – August: 9am – 4pm September – February: 9am – 6pm.

LOCATION:

1 Bacchante Street, Blackheath.

WEBSITE:

https://www.rhodogarden.org.au/

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Best accessed by car, bike or walking. The walk takes around 18 minutes from Blackheath Station.

Cool Walks

Braeside walk and creek swim

The dam at the start of the Braeside walk. (Hamish Dunlop)

The Braeside walk joins the Cliff Top Walking Track that connects Evans Lookout and Govetts Leap. There is small creek dam at the start of the walk for a refreshing dip.

SAFETY INFO:

The aquatic environment around rivers, lakes and dams 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:

24 hours. Please check the National Parks and Wildlife Service website in case of track closures.

LOCATION:

The Braeside walk is accessed from the Braeside Trail off Braeside Street in Blackheath. The start of the walk is 1km down the unsealed trail and the walk itself is 2.8km return. Limited parking is available where the walk starts.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: 

The start of Braeside Trail via Braeside Street can be accessed using the  698 bus heading from Katoomba. Catch the bus from the stop on the Great Western Highway before Bundarra Street, Blackheath. It’s a 1km semi-shaded walk from the trailhead to the start of the walk. Alternatively, the start of the Braeside Trail is 24 minutes’ walk from Blackheath Station.

Grand Canyon walk

grand canyon walk

The Grand Canyon walk (Photo: Steve Krinks)

Setting out from Grand Canyon carpark this well-shaded track meanders through luscious native vegetation including temperate rainforest and follows Greaves Creek. These things combine to make this a particularly good walk in the warmer months. The walk is one of the rare locations where you don’t need specialist hiking or abseiling equipment to explore a canyon. The Grade 3 tack is a 6.3km loop that takes approximately 3 hours.

SAFETY INFO:

Always be prepared. Read these NPWS bushwalking safety tips before you set off on a walking adventure in national parks. Check the weather before you set out as the creek can flood after heavy rain.

OPENING HOURS:

24 hours. Please check the National Parks and Wildlife Service website in case of track closures. You can also download the free NSW National Parks app to use the park’s maps and information without mobile reception.

LOCATION:

Grand Canyon carpark, 394 Evans Lookout Rd, Blackheath.

WEBSITE:

https://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/walking-tracks/grand-canyon-track

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

Best accessed by car or bike. The 698 bus heading from Katoomba can be caught at the stop before Bundarra Street, Blackheath. It takes you down Evans Lookout Road just before Forest Park Road. From here it’s a 25-minute walk to the Grand Canyon carpark.

Retail Areas, Pubs and Clubs

Some of our local retailers and service providers are more than willing to offer cool access to their premises for those struggling in the heat. You can also enjoy a drink or a meal although these are usually at an additional cost. Here are a few spaces that offer some free access to our community.

Blackheath Golf & Community Club

Blackheath Golf & Community Club

Relaxing at the Blackheath Golf & Community Club Café. Courtesy of the Club.

The clubhouse has a restaurant, bar and café with air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. There is a recently renovated terrace overlooking the course with BBQ facilities. It also has a fully equipped children’s room. On Sundays there are meat raffles & trivia from 4.30pm and on Thursdays there is Bingo from 11:30am. Friday sees a raffle members’ badge draw. Tickets are on sale from 5:30pm. Draw 6:30pm. Free Kids’ Raffle.

CLUBHOUSE OPENING HOURS:

Wednesday & Thursday 11am – 9pm | Friday 11am – 10pm | Saturday 11am – 10pm | Sunday 11am – 8pm.

LOCATION:

Corner of Valley View Road and Brightlands Ave, Blackheath.

CONTACT:

(02) 4787 8406

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: 

The 698 bus heading towards Katoomba from Blackheath.

Blackheath/Mt Victoria RSL

The Blackheath/Mt Victoria RSL is located at 2 Bundarra Street, Blackheath. A social get together takes place between 3pm and 6pm on Fridays in a fully airconditioned space. An awning provides sun cover. The RSL welcomes all comers.

OPENING HOURS:

Friday 3pm – 6pm.

LOCATION:

2 Bundarra Street, Blackheath.

CONTACT:

0419 639 226 | blackheathrsl2@gmail.com.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: 

5 minutes’ walk from Blackheath Station.

Mt Vic Flicks, Mt Victoria

Mt Vic Flicks

The opening of ‘Mining the Blue Mountains’. Image courtesy of Ian Wright.

Mount Vic Flicks is a heritage-listed cinema in Mount Victoria and a much loved and treasured icon of the Upper Blue Mountains. Snacks and drinks are available and the cinema is air-conditioned.

OPENING HOURS:

See https://mountvicflicks.com.au/ for movie session times.

LOCATION:

2A Harley Ave, Mount Victoria.

CONTACT

reservations@mountvicflicks.com.au (reservations) | adamkirsten@mountvicflicks.com.au (enquiries).

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

5-minutes’ walk from Mt Victoria Station.

New Ivanhoe Hotel, Blackheath

The New Ivanhoe (Photo: supplied)

A beautiful art deco building with a whole lot of soul. The pub has a bar and bistro. It’s air-conditioned and free WiFi is available.

HOTEL OPENING HOURS:

Monday – Saturday 10am – 2am | Sunday 12pm – 1-pm.

LOCATION:

231 Great Western Highway, Blackheath.

CONTACT:

(02) 4787 6156

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: 

Train to Blackheath Station or the 698 bus from Katoomba.

Gardner’s Inn, Blackheath

Gardner’s Inn is the oldest continuously licensed hotel in the Blue Mountains. It has a restaurant, bar and accommodation. It’s air-conditioned and free WIFI is available.

OPENING HOURS:

Sunday – Thursday 10:30am -10pm | Friday – Saturday 10:30am – 12am.

LOCATION:

255 Great Western Highway, Blackheath.

CONTACT:

(02) 4787 8347 | gardnersinnres@gmail.com.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: 

Train to Blackheath Station or the 698 bus from Katoomba.

Megalong Valley Tearooms, Megalong Valley

The Megalong Valley Tea Rooms have proudly served up scones and apple pie to generations of Blue Mountains residents and guests since 1956. The Tea Rooms offer all-day breakfast and lunch with seasonal specials. The Café has ceiling fans, but on hotter days, the tables under the trees are the way to go. The Tearooms is also the farm gate outlet for LOT 101 where you can pick up fresh veggies and other farm produce, grown organically just around the corner. A farmers’ market runs from 9am on Saturdays.

LOCATION:

Megalong Rd, Megalong Valley

HOURS:

Monday to Sunday 9am – 3pm

CONTACT:

(02) 4787 7089 | megalongvalleytearooms@gmail.com (reservations).

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: 

Access by car only.

Hotel Etico, Mt Victoria

Hotel Etico’s restaurant and bar are open on Wednesday (restaurant only), Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. There is music on Friday and sometimes other days. See the website for bookings and what’s on. Hotel Etico is one of more than a dozen hotels and restaurants around the world that support the flourishing and remarkable potential of people with disabilities. While the hotel isn’t air-conditioned, the sandstone building keeps the bar and restaurant cool during the hotter months.

OPENING HOURS:

Wednesday 5pm – 8pm (limited restaurant service: pizza and antipasto) | Thursday to Saturday 5:30 to 8:30 (bar and full restaurant service).

LOCATION:

255 Great Western Hwy, Blackheath NSW 2785

CONTACT:

0438 511 352 | stay@hoteletico.com.au

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: 

Train to Mount Victoria Station.

This story has been produced as part of a Bioregional Collaboration for Planetary Health and is supported by the Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (DRRF). The DRRF is jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments.

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About Hamish Dunlop

Hamish Dunlop is a writer, visual artist and environmentalist. During his career he has worked in communications, as an academic at UNSW and ACU and more recently in the conservation space. He is currently completing a Diploma in Conservation and Ecosystems Management. He lives on the bush in Medlow Bath and is a passionate bush walker, gardener and cold-water enthusiast.

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