The Upside Down Under
The Three Sisters


The Three Sisters is an unusual rock formation representing three sisters who according to Aboriginal legend were turned to stone.

The Three Sisters are unusual rock formation in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, on the north escarpment of the Jamison Valley. They are close to the town of Katoomba and are one of the Blue Mountains' best known sites, towering above the Jamison Valley. Their names are Meehni (922 m), Wimlah (918 m), and Gunnedoo (906 m).

As part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, the Three Sisters is an iconic formation that you must see at least once in your lifetime. There are different versions of the Aboriginal story of the Three Sisters, but what you’re bound to agree with is how truly spectacular it is. Standing proudly in the land of the Gundungurra and Darug People, the traditional custodians of this declared Aboriginal Place, the imposing Three Sisters is best seen from Echo Point lookout

The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters from the lookout

The character of the Three Sisters changes throughout the day and throughout the seasons as the sunlight brings out the magnificent colours. The Three Sisters is also floodlit until around 11pm each evening looking simply spectacular set against the black background of the night sky.

The Three Sisters
Spectacular colour changes happen throughut the seasons

The Three Sisters Walk

This family-friendly walk treats you to ever-changing views of the grand Three Sisters, rising nearly a kilometre above sea level.

Pass through the archway, next to the Echo Point Visitor Centre, and you'll soon be surrounded by soaring eucalypt forest, bird calls and fresh mountain air. Keep an eye out for the superb lyrebird and crimson rosellas as you walk the gently sloping path for 450m to Oreades lookout. Marvel at the incredible views of the Three Sisters' weather-eroded sandstone turrets, and the hazy 'blue' Jamison Valley stretching to Mount Solitary.

The Three Sisters Walk
The family-friendly Three Sisters Walk

From here, steps lead a further 50m to Lady Game lookout, for a closer view of this remarkable rock formation. A short but very steep set of stairs at the top of the Giant Stairway leads to Honeymoon Bridge, which connects to the first sister.

On the way back, enjoy the short signposted detour to Spooners lookout. If you’re feeling energetic, there are plenty of longer walks nearby, including Prince Henry Cliff walk, Dardanelles Pass loop walking track, and the Three Sisters Walk to Scenic World via Giant Stairway.

The Three Sisters declared an Aboriginal place by the NSW government

The Three Sisters at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains has been recognised as an Aboriginal place by the New South Wales government.

In 2014 the New South Wales Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, made the announcement that the site was declared as an Aboriginal Place , making it the 98th site to be declared in the state.

The Three Sisters
Three Sisters - Blue Mountains by Queenie Nakarra McKenzie | Exhibition - Written in the Land | Australian Aboriginal Paintings

Aboriginal people have been connected to this land for thousands of years, and Gundungurra Elder Sharyn Halls says the declaration will preserve Aboriginal culture in the Blue Mountains.

"It wasn't nominated for tourism, it was nominated for protection and our cultural values," said Ms Halls.

The iconic landmark attracts over 600,000 tourists every year, who visit the site to learn about Australia’s Aboriginal history.

“The Gundungurra Aboriginal Heritage Association came to the government with a proposal to make The Three Sisters an Aboriginal place, that's a place of significance and it’s critically important that the request comes from the Aboriginal community because it’s about their culture, their history and their stories," said Minister Parker.

The Three Sisters Legend

The Aboriginal dream-time legend has it that three sisters, 'Meehni', 'Wimlah' and Gunnedoo' lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe.

These beautiful young ladies had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry.

The Three Sisters sculpture
Sculptures of the Three Sisters can be seen at the Scenic World centre.

The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters causing a major tribal battle.

As the lives of the three sisters were seriously in danger, a witchdoctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. While he had intended to reverse the spell when the battle was over, the witchdoctor himself was killed. As only he could reverse the spell to return the ladies to their former beauty, the sisters remain in their magnificent rock formation as a reminder of this battle for generations to come.

An Alternative Legend

Long ago in the Blue Mountains there lived three little Aboriginal sisters. They were Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo, whose Witch Doctor father was called Tyawan.

Only one creature was feared by all the Bunyip who lived in a deep hole. When Tyawan had to pass the hole, he would leave his daughters safely on the cliff behind a rocky wall. One day, waving goodbye to his daughters, he descended the cliff steps. On top of the cliff a big centipede suddenly appeared and frightened Meehni, who threw a stone at it. The stone rolled over the cliff and crashed into the valley.

The Three Sisters Legend
The angry Bunyip emerged to see the terrified sisters

Birds, animals and fairies stopped till as the rocks behind the three sisters split open, leaving them on a thin ledge.

The angry Bunyip emerged to see the terrified sisters. In the valley, Tyawan saw the Bunyip close to his daughters, so he pointed his magic bone at the girls and turned them to stone. The Bunyip then chased Tyawan, who found himself trapped, so he changed himself into a Lyre Bird. Everyone was safe, but Tyawan had dropped his magic bone. After the Bunyip had gone, Tyawan searched and searched for his bone and he is still searching.

The Three Sisters stand silently watching him from their ledge, hoping he will find the bone to turn them back to Aboriginal girls.

As you look at the Three Sisters, you can hear Tyawan the Lyre Bird calling his daughters as his search for the lost bone continues.



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