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Three Sisters is an iconic landmark that has become synonymous with Blue Mountains, New South Wales. Visit this trio of sandstone rocks that tower over the Jamison Valley and you’ll see blue-ridge mountainsthat stretch to infinity in the horizon, becoming a hub for millions of tourists every year! So much so that, it is now a must-stop destination on all Blue Mountains tours from Sydney!
Fact Versus Legend
Dating back to over 300 million years, it is not easy to believe that this landscape was once the floor of a shallow sea. As the area weathered over a span of millions of years, the sea receded and the seabed was crushed and transformed into rock. What was left of the creeks and rivers played a huge role in carving out plateaus, cliffs and mountains for a few more million years resulting in the present-day iconic vantage points and attractions at Blue Mountains!
The scientific details that go with the transformation involve too much jargon, so we’ll let the geographical changes take a backseat! Instead, let’s learn more about the two Aboriginal legends that revolve around the creation of the Three Sisters – one an intriguing tale of forbidden love, the other one about a Gundungurra magic man, his three beautiful daughters and a scary Bunyip (a mythical creature from Aboriginal mythology)!
The Curse of Forbidden Love
A heart-wrenching love story about three gorgeous sisters who belonged to the Katoomba tribe in Jamison Valley, this legend is all about forbidden love. The three daughters fell in love with three brothers from the rival Napean tribe. Unfortunately, tribal laws forbade them from marrying each other. But the three brothers didn’t accept the dictates of the law and protested against it. They decided to forcefully capture and marry the three sisters, ensuing in a tribal battle.
During the war that followed, the Katoomba witch-doctor acted to protect the three sisters by casting a spell on them which transformed them to stone. His clever intention was to reverse the spell once the war was over; but as fate would have it, the witch-doctor did not survive the war. As only he possessed the ability to reverse the spell and turn the sisters back to their beautiful selves, the trio of magnificent rock formations still exists as solitary relics of lost love!
A Father’s Bid to Save his Daughters
This legend talks of three sisters named Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo who lived on a cliff with their father Tyawan who was a witch-doctor. In the valley, there was a terrifying ‘Bunyip’ who lived in a deep hole and was feared by one and all. Whenever Tyawan passed the hole during his search for food, he would ensure his three daughters stayed safe behind a rocky wall on the cliff.
One day, Tyawan descended the cliff steps into the valley in search for food as was routine. At the same time,Meenhi was frightened by a large centipede and threw a stone at it from the clifftop. The stone hit the centipede, but rolled over the cliff and fell into the valley which angered the Bunyip. In turn the Bunyipmade the rocky wall behind the three crumble, leaving them stranded on a thin clifftop ledge.
Legend says that all birds, animals and fairies halted in their tracks when the Bunyip approached the terrified girls. To protect his daughters from the vengeful Bunyip, their father used his magic bone to transform them into stone. The Bunyip then went afterTyawan instead to escape which the trapped Tyawan changed himself into a magnificent Lyre Bird.
Unfortunately, he dropped his magic bone in the process and couldn’t transform back to his original form again even after the Bunyip gave up the chase and disappeared.It’s said that the Lyre Bird has been searching for this magic bone ever since. As per the legend, ‘The Three Sisters’ stand silently overlooking the valley in the hope that one day their father would find the bone and turn them back to their former selves.
Now that you know the tale, why not spend some time reliving it at the Three Sisters en route a scenic tour to Blue Mountains!