Katoomba vs. Oberon

Katoomba is the most famous town in the Blue Mountains region.

Only a few hours’ drive from the bustling city of Sydney, it offers visitors various activities and attractions, including wildlife parks, waterfalls, scenic viewpoints, hiking trails, art galleries and more.

Initially, Katoomba gained recognition due to the Katoomba Coal Mine, which opened in 1879. 

However, nowadays, the town’s primary attraction is the iconic Three Sisters rock formation, which draws in both locals and tourists alike.

Another popular destination in Katoomba is Scenic World, which offers various rides, allowing visitors to explore the cliffs and valleys of the region.

For those interested in exploring the surrounding bushland and observing wildlife, Katoomba is an excellent starting point for various treks and nature walks.

Oberon is a lesser-known town that became famous due to gold discoveries in one of its rivers in the early nineteenth century.

Although there is little in the town, Oberon is close to other popular Blue Mountains attractions, such as Jenolan Caves and the Mayfield Garden.

At an elevation of 1,113 meters, Oberon is the highest town in the Blue Mountains area and offers a peaceful and less crowded vacation option.

Nestled in the beautiful rural landscape of New South Wales (NWS), Oberon is also conveniently located near Abercrombie River National Park and Kanangra-Boyd National Park, providing opportunities for activities such as truffle-hunting, hiking, swimming, and fishing.

It is one of the best towns near the Blue Mountains if you’re looking for an alternative to the busy tourist spots in Katoomba.

The article outlines information about the two towns in the Blue Mountains, covering details such as their respective locations, popular attractions and the expected crowd.


Katoomba is just 101 km away from Sydney, and you can reach Katoomba in less than two hours by car or public transport. 

The Intercity NSW TrainLink offers trains departing and arriving in Sydney at least once per hour.

You can travel from Sydney to Katoomba for approximately 2 hours using the Blue Mountains Line (BMT) from Central Station.

Alternatively, you can drive to Katoomba by heading west from Sydney on the Great Western Highway, M4, and A32, which typically takes around 90 minutes.

Oberon is about 177 km from Sydney, and you can reach it via two main modes of transportation.

If you prefer driving, it takes around three hours to get there by car via Jenolan Caves Road. 

Alternatively, you can take a train from Central Station to Tarana and then transfer to a coach to reach Oberon, which typically takes around four hours.

Top attractions

Let’s have a look at popular tourist spots in the Blue Mountains towns.


The chief Blue Mountains town, Katoomba, is the most popular getaway destination for residents of Sydney and is also popular among tourists. 

It boasts stunning views, exciting rides, majestic waterfalls, a range of short to lengthy walking trails, and an intriguing history, making for a long list of things to do in Katoomba.

Three Sisters at Echo Point

The Three Sisters are a trio of unusually shaped limestone rocks with an intriguing folktale attached.

Often viewed from the Echo viewpoint, the rock formation can be seen up close via the short 30-minute Three Sisters walk through the Gaint Stairway. 

The appearance of the rocks changes depending on the time of day and the season. When illuminated at night, the rocks look even more impressive against the dark sky. 

You can witness the beautiful hues of the Three Sisters during sunset by taking the Blue Mountains sunset tour.

Scenic World

Scenic World, situated in the southwest of the town, is a tourist attraction that features intricately designed rides and showcases the stunning scenery of the Blue Mountains and the Jamison Valley below. 

This location boasts the steepest passenger train in the world, a raised pathway among historic trees, and an aerial cable car.

To enjoy all the rides at Scenic World and have the flexibility to explore the Blue Mountains, you can opt for the combination package of Scenic World and Blue Mountains Explorer bus. 

It includes priority access to Scenic World rides and an all-day pass to hop on and off the bus. 

While the Three Sisters and the Scenic World are the primary tourist draws in Katoomba, there is an abundance of other activities and sights to explore nearby.

Various walking trails are part of the town, from the seven km Prince Henry Cliff walk to the 46 km Six Foot trail from Katoomba to Jenolan caves.


Image: Bluemts.com

While Oberon may not be as popular as some other tourist destinations in Australia, it still attracts visitors interested in exploring the natural beauty of the Blue Mountains region.

It provides many fascinating and less crowded attractions, such as the ancient Jenolan Caves, around 340 million years old, the charming Mayfield Garden and opportunities for wildlife spotting and several hiking trails.

Jenolan Caves

Jenolan Caves, situated 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Oberon, is known to be the oldest open cave system ever discovered.

The Jenolan Caves and Conservation Reserve is among the eight protected sites of the Greater Blue Mountains Area, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The cave system comprises various chambers, including the Temple of Baal, the Lucas Cave, and the Imperial Cave, adorned with remarkable calcite formations like stalactites and stalagmites.

Experience the Lucas Cave, the largest and most expansive chamber in Jenolan Caves, which boasts underground rivers, by taking a full-day tour of the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves.

Mayfield Garden

One of the world’s largest privately-owned cool temperature gardens, Oberon’s Mayfield Garden is home to beautiful landscapes.

The garden showcases breathtaking landscapes and offers a cold climate nursery and a Cafe & Produce Store that serves paddock-to-plate, locally sourced food, regional wines, beers, and cold beverages.

The Abercrombie Karst Conservation Reserve, located south of Oberon, has stunning limestone caverns, beautiful bushwalking trails, waterfalls, and campsites. 

Similarly, the Abercrombie River National Park has three rivers and numerous streams and is ideal for hiking, camping, and 4WD trips.

Expected crowd 

During the peak summer season, Katoomba, the most famous town in the Blue Mountains, is likely to be congested. 

In contrast, Oberon is a relatively unknown town with significantly fewer visitors than Katoomba.

Featured Image : Olser / Simonwoolley

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