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Blue Mountains

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Hello! I'm taking my first trip to Australia in May, just have time to do a short visit in Sydney and Melbourne for 4 nights each. Typical American vacation, I know ;).

I'd like to spend time exploring both cities and also have a day trip in each. While in Melbourne I'll be visiting the Yarra Valley for a wine day. But here's the question: while in Sydney, should I visit the Blue Mountains? The tour I can afford is with Oztrek, $55, which was highly recommended from a guidebook and includes several nature walks. Sounds great but the tour takes a full day, and because I have such a short time on this first trip to Sydney I'm wondering if I should I stay closer and visit, i.e., the Sydney Harbour National Park if I want to go hiking in nature?

Btw I'm an active 40-something woman who loves exploring cities and discovering breathtaking scenery unique to an area. I live in LA now and go on moderate hikes a lot at the beaches and parks. I've waited my whole life to get to Australia and want to make the most of seeing what's worth seeing. If Blue Mountains can't be missed, I'll do it. Or are there other suggestions? And are there any local hiking groups?

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