The view of the Three Sisters from Echo Point draws millions of visitors each year, both from Australia and around the world. The image has even come to be synonymous with the Blue Mountains. Personally, I've never been to see these famous rock pillars when there hasn't been a busload of tourists marvelling at the formation, but the way the rock has been eroded to form three pillars each over 900 metres tall is pretty spectacular. You can even see where the other four pillars of the original seven once stood.
The Three Sisters are more than just a rock formation. They also have special significance for indigenous Australians. The original seven pillars were an integral part of the local Seven Sisters Dreaming story, based on the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades star cluster. Variations of the story existed throughout Australia. The current Three Sisters are part of an indigenous legend involving Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo, three Aboriginal sisters the individual formations have been named after. It is commonly told that they fell in love with three boys from a rival tribe but were forbidden to marry them. When the boys decided to take them by force during a battle, the Witch Doctor of the sisters' tribe turned them to stone to protect them, but died in the battle and was never able to turn them back.
It has recently been determined that this story is a myth however. It was likely generated to promote the Three Sisters in the early years of tourism. The real story, taken from the local Gundungurra tribe, explains that the sisters were turned to stone by their father, a Witch Doctor called Tyawan, to protect them from the dangerous and much-feared Bunyip. When the Bunyip then turned on him Tyawan transformed himself into a lyre bird, but in the process he dropped his magic stick and has yet to find it again.
Today the sisters are still in rock form and sit to the left of the viewing platform at Echo Point. They make up a very small part of what is visible from this lookout and are only one element of the Blue Mountains National Park that you can see. You also get a wide view of Jamison Valley, with Mount Solitary sitting in the centre. It is a huge expanse of trees sitting within a ring of cliff-faces that blew my mind when I was little. If we were so close to Sydney why could I see nothing but trees for such a distance?
The Three Sisters set against part of the Jamison Valley
The two platforms at Echo Point aren't your only way to see the Three Sisters either. There is also a short walk that begins behind the Visitor Information Centre and ends with the Giant Stairway, which takes you down to the first of the Three Sisters. I've never had the time to do this myself, but I'm determined to get up close to the Sisters next time!