Your Journey Into World Heritage Your Journey Into World Heritage  

Find out more about the features, attractions and landscapes of Macarthur and the Southern Highlands.

Mountains, Forests, Rivers and Lakes


Most of the World Heritage Area is made up of sandstone plateaus, deeply divided by creeks and rivers. Only a few mountains rise above the general level of these tablelands to become landmarks for some distance around.

The Colong sector of the greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is named for the square-topped basalt peak of Mount Colong, in the Kanangra-Boyd Wilderness north-east of Wombeyan Caves.

Yerranderie Peak near Yerranderie and Mount Alexandra and Mount Gibraltar near Mittagong are other prominent volcanic tops.


Most of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is covered in an enormous variety of eucalypt forest and woodland - from the tall and straight blue gums and mountain gums of the sheltered valleys and mountaintops to the twisted angophoras and scribbly gums on the dry ridges. In the most sheltered places grows warm temperate rainforest.

A special remnant of rainforest on basalt is preserved in Robertson Nature Reserve, near Robertson.

Rivers and lakes

The Georges, Nepean, Little, Bargo, Nattai and Wingecarribee Rivers all rise in the Macarthur and Southern Highlands region. The Little River and Nattai River flow through the World Heritage Area into the Lake Burragorang water storage.

As the largest lake in the area, Lake Burragorang supplies most of the water for the greater Sydney region. The lake was formed in 1960 when the scenic Burragorang Valley was flooded with the completion of Warragamba Dam.

The headwaters of the Nepean River have also been captured in four older water supply lakes: Cataract, Cordeaux, Nepean and Avon.

All these water storage lakes are closed to the public to protect water quality, but visitor access and picnic facilities are provided near each of the dams.

The five Thirlmere Lakes were formed naturally, when earth movements tilted the valley in which they lie and trapped the creekwaters. The lakes are incredibly old, some 15 million years, and today provide visitors with tranquil opportunities for picnicking, walking, birdwatching and canoeing.