Just a 90-minute drive from the city, the Blue Mountains are one of Sydney’s great natural assets. Summer is great time to visit, both to explore the mountains’ breathtaking natural beauty and to escape the heat and holiday crowds down on the coast. And, at the end of a hectic year like 2016, some time disconnecting from the virtual world and reconnecting with nature is something we’re all craving.
Scenic World in Katoomba is a great place to start your Blue Mountains adventure, whether visiting with family or friends. Its four major attractions – Scenic Railway, Scenic Walkway, Scenic Cableway and Scenic Skyway – are designed to offer thrilling views of the Jamison Valley, its spectacular formations and sprawling, ancient rainforest. Scenic World can also serve as a base for a number of walks to waterfalls and lookouts. It’s worth arriving early and spending the day here, trying all four experiences, getting in a bushwalk and getting lunch at Scenic World as well.
Dining is available in the on-site licensed restaurant, EATS270, named for its position perched 270m above the Jamison Valley, complete with panoramic views from its open-air deck. Menus feature locally sourced produce and serve the likes of Angus beef burgers and summer prawn salad. There’s also the Terrace Café, serving coffee, tea and bakery treats, gelato and snacks: rest and re-caffeinate while taking in the expansive views. Meanwhile the gift shop sells wares from local artists including handprinted textiles and wearable art, as well as artisan chocolates and locally smoked nuts.
The Unlimited Discovery Pass to Scenic World includes one day of unlimited rides on the Railway, Skyway, Cableway and Walkway. During the summer season it costs $39 for adults, $35 concession, $21 child under 14 years, and $99 family (two adults and up to five children).
From December 21 to January 29 Scenic World is offering an Early Bird Discount for anyone arriving before 10am: adults $34, children $20 and family $88. And there are annual passes available too, perfect for anyone planning to visit at least three times in a year: $99 adult, $39 child and $239 family.
Be sure to book in advance online to avoid disappointment.
Scenic World is open 9am-5pm every day including Christmas Day, with extended hours on selected days in December, January, and February. The street address is the corner of Violet Street and Cliff Drive, Katoomba.
The Scenic World story begins in 1952 when the Hammon family took the old mining railway originally used to haul shale up the mountain and converted it into a Scenic Railway for the use of visitors. The ride passes down a 50° incline through a rock tunnel down into the Jamison Valley to the rainforest below. These days, just to get you into the mood, they play the Indiana Jones theme while you descend at a rate of four metres per second. Many visitors start their Scenic Walk experience by descending via the Scenic Railway, but you can also use it to return to the clifftop.
In 2000, Scenic World opened the Scenic Cableway. This glass-walled cable car makes the same trip down into the valley as the Scenic Railway but with a more spectacular view, taking in the Three Sisters, Orphan Rock, Mount Solitary and Katoomba Falls. The largest cable car in Australia, the Scenic Cableway is capable of holding 84 passengers at a time. At the bottom the Scenic Cableway joins up with the Scenic Walkway.
On the jungle floor there is a 2.4km series of raised boardwalks called the Scenic Walkway. Partly wheelchair accessible, these platforms take you on a pleasant, dirt-free walk around the valley going past fascinating examples of plant life as well as enormous pieces of mining equipment from the former mine. There are museum-style exhibits about the mine down there as well. This 50 minute stroll through Jurassic rainforest is great to take in all weathers as you’re protected by the rainforest canopy. The Scenic Walkway has been designed to have a minimal impact on the environment. During April/May each year is the annual Sculpture at Scenic World event, a curated exhibition of sculptures by local and international artists installed around the rainforest walk.
In operation since 1958, the Scenic Skyway is a 720m return ride between clifftops in a cable car, suspended 270m in the air. Rebuilt in 2005, the new cable car features a glass bottom for unrestricted views of the rainforest below. The journey provides the best views of Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, and Jamison Valley stretching to the horizon. If you disembark at the Skyway’s east station you can access lookouts over the valley along with bush trails to Echo Point.