What happens when you cross an amusement park with Mother Nature? The answer is simple my friends, Scenic World.
I really do hate showing my age, but….. When I was a wee lass (30+ years ago), my dad use to take me to the Scenic Railway with visiting overseas work colleagues. It was a fantastic Saturday showing off the beautiful Blue Mountains. My favourite part was the railway, back then that was it, no ‘world’, just the railway.
The Scenic Railway is no ordinary railway, it is the steepest incline railway in the world. As far as I am concerned it gives any roller coaster a run for its money. I remember as a kid I always had visions of it not stopping where it should and the carriages continuing, launching off full force into the Jamison Valley. I had a very vivid imagination as a kid, nothing was safe from it.
The incline of the railway, 52 degrees, hasn’t changed since it was constructed between 1878 to 1900 for coal and oil shale mining. Originally used to transport, miners, goods and even mining ponies down the sandstone cliff face. When the mine closed down, Harry Hammon purchased the railway. It was Harry and his son that set the ball rolling for what is today Scenic World. I was thrilled to find out that Scenic World is still a family owned business run by the Hammon family.
Riding the railway is quite a unique experience. After you get over the shock of traveling straight down, look out, the view is amazing. The carriages are glass-roofed which allow for passengers to take in the amazing view.
The carriages have been updated since I last visited. If you feel that a 52 degree incline isn’t thrilling enough you can change the pitch of your seat. You can now choose the ‘cliffhanger’ setting for a 64 degree incline. Word of warning, once your seat setting is chosen, it can’t be changed on the way down. I learnt this the hard way, oh yes, my ride down was at the front of the front carriage. You could say I was feeling a little anxious the whole trip down. Personally, unless you are a totally thrill seeker stick with the ‘laid back’ option.
You descend 310 metres, starting through a tunnel. Once you emerge from the tunnel, you are greeted with a breath taking view of the Jamieson Valley, as you continue down the cliff face to the valley floor. Once down the bottom, and composure regained, there is an easy stroll through 2.4kms of stunning Jurassic rainforest via the Scenic Walkway. Then hop back on the railway to head topside again.
Once back topside why not head back down into the Jamieson Valley again? This time, a little more sedately, via the Scenic Cableway. Again, no normal cableway, but the steepest and largest aerial cable car in the Southern Hemisphere. Enjoy spectacular views on your 545 metre gentle descent into the valley. It is the prefect vantage point to see the Three Sisters, Orphan Rock, Mt Solitary and Katoomba Falls.
Once at the bottom you once again have access to the Scenic Walkway, and is the wheelchair accessible option to experience the rainforest. Once you have finished exploring, take the cableway back up to the top.
There is one more major attraction at Scenic World, the Scenic Skyway. This time take a trip 270 metres above the valley. For thrill seekers you can stand on the glass cabin flooring and look straight down. Feel a little hesitant about this? There is also seating and non see-through flooring. The 270 metre journey across the valley will provide you with 360 degree views of Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters and the Jamison Valley in all its glory.
Of course, if hunger strikes, they can feed you as well. There is an international eatery offering Asian, Indian, Italian and Australian inspired meals. You can also grab hot beverages, snacks and baked goods from the Terrace Café.
I do have to make mention of one more ‘attraction’. It seems the Hammons were not totally satisfied with the adventure that is offered by the railway, cableway and skyway. There is also a revolving floor in the dining area. Most visiting Scenic World won’t get to experience it unfortunately, it is used for private functions only at present.
There is also another attraction that only the eagle eyed will spot. On your way down in the Scenic Cableway, see if you can spot the rollercoaster. The structure is there, has been for many years, but is not in use. Will it ever be? Who knows? But seeing the Hammons love of nature and adventure first hand, I wouldn’t count it out.
Violet Street & Cliff Drive, Katoomba
Tel +61 2 4780 0200
Belly Rumbles visited Scenic World as a guest with much thanks to Destination NSW and my Scenic World guide Andy.