When Europeans arrived in Australia, the Blue Mountains had already been inhabited for several millennia by the Gundungurra people. They are now represented by the Gundungurra Tribal Council Aboriginal Corporation in Katoomba. This is a not for profit organisation representing the traditional owners, promoting heritage and culture and providing support for the Gundungurra people. They who also run a tour company, Muggadah Tours. Their creation story of the Blue Mountains tells that Dreamtime creatures Mirigan and Garangatch, half fish and half reptile, fought an epic battle which scarred the landscape into the Jamison Valley.
Examples of Aboriginal habitation can be found in many places. In the Red Hands Cave, a rock shelter near Glenbrook, the walls contain hand stencils from adults and children. The Kings Tableland Aboriginal Site, dating back 22,000 years, is on the southern side of Queen Elizabeth Drive at Wentworth Falls. The site has a rocky knoll with a large number of grinding grooves created by rubbing stone implements on the rock to shape and sharpen them, carved images of animal tracks and an occupation cave.
Although not especially high, the Blue Mountains cliffs were sufficiently challenging to prevent European explorers from penetrating the inland from Sydney for some time. Attempts to cross the mountains began in the late 1790’s, and it was not until 1813 when Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson found a way across the mountains by following the ridges rather than the watercourses.
Once the route was found, roads and a technologically and geographically difficult railway development followed rapidly. The roads and railways today follow almost exactly the route taken by the original explorers. A visit to many of the scenic vistas, cliffs and waterfalls in the mountains will give you some appreciation of the challenges anyone would face trying to follow the rivers and creeks across the mountains.