Apr 25, 2018

The Staycation Life #4: Scenic World, Katoomba.

Interrupting my usual programming for a moment to bring you news of Baby #3 for the Cambridges, patriotically born on St George's Day (the feast day for the patron saint of England).  Ever reliable, the Daily Mail tells me that Kate's dress is custom Jenny Packham.  I love that shade of red and the 11/10 blow dry (and heels) merely hours after bub was born.

via google images
And we'll be back to my life in flats and scraped bag hair in ten, nine ....



Just being in Central Station stirs up the (relatively) adventurous, bold explorer side of me. The arching ceilings and their skylights whose shards of light seem to imbue a sense of promise to everything they illuminate.  The solemn clocks above that seem to keep everything ticking along with the turn of their hands.  The travellers and their suitcases. That air of excitement (and determination) in the stance of people in line at the cafe and newsagent.  In some ways its more intoxicating than being at the airport.


Our eyes eagerly scanned the Intercity section of the departures screen for the platform for our morning service to Katoomba.  We were fortunate to have made it for the morning express service with time to spare for a coffee and babycino.


Only they don't do babycinos at central but rather a 'small' cup of frothed milk with a dusting of chocolate on top for $1 as well as priority service meaning you get your drink ahead of the eight or so adults already waiting for their morning cup of Joe.



Because we had time to spare, Master SSG got a chance to get up close to the trains as he watched the crew prepare the train for the journey ahead.


I wore my Mickey Stands sweater from Uniqlo in honour of the day's adventuring.


With my coffee in hand and lots to occupy us in our respective backpacks, we were soon on our way for a sedate journey beyond the city limits and into the foot hills, mountains, ranges and escarpments of the Blue Mountains.


We picked a perfect Monday for our trip.  The day was sunny but cool, perfect for all the walking ahead of us.


Katoomba train station is clearly signposted making it easy for even the terminally map illiterate such as myself to find their way to the shuttle buses.


This is a view of Katoomba Street where all the bus stands are.


We took the 686 shuttle bus (pay using your Opal card) to Echo Point, one of the best vantage points from which to see the mountains in Katoomba. There's a kiosk, toilets and an information centre close the the bus stop.  Hiking paths also connect Echo Point to other points of interest in the area.


Where we were greeted with that trademark blue haze misting around the mountains.  The blue comes from the oil of the eucalypts.  Did you know that the Blue Mountains were Heritage Listed in 2000?


I wasn't game to get a proper selfie with Master SSG, preferring to keep him within arm's reach at all times.


But I did get this photo of The Three Sisters.  There were originally Seven Sisters with four having been claimed by erosion over time.  Each of the remaining sisters stand at around 900m in height.


At the entrance to the Scenic World complex as seen from the long line to buy tickets ... on a Monday.  Albeit a stunning, bonus summer / autumn one.

It's a relatively short walk from Echo Point to Scenic World, about 20 minutes but with the traffic and ups and downs of the route, I opted for the 5 minute bus ride because I had Master SSG in tow.


Scenic World Blue Mountains is a one stop family friendly park which enables you to experience the Blur Mountains through a variety of 'rides', hike and walk between them, explore beyond the confines of the property and also enjoy meals and the view from the main building.  It is a designated stop on the 686 bus route.

The Skyway cable car boarding platform is right next to the cafe.

Tickets are pricy (adults $43 AUD, children $23) but it's a well thought out venue with easy access to all rides.  There are plenty of staff on hand and while the waits were long for the rides, things were orderly.  


Waiting and lining up was a challenge for Master SSG.  Given that we 'only' had three attractions to queue for and that the lines were within metres of each other, I'm glad I've put off attempting the big theme parks for at least another year or two.  All up, we spent about 4 hours at Scenic World.  We managed to sample a bit of everything that was on offer (except for the sculpture garden) but if you are planning a trip with younger children, be prepared that it may be a shorter visit than you had anticipated on account of their endurance and patience.


Our first 'ride' was the Skyway, a glass floored cable car suspended 270m above Katoomba falls.


It was just breathtaking seeing the mountains around us and the falls below us.



The Skyway's eastern station (outside of the main building) delivers you to the Prince Henry Cliff Walk.  It's also possible to get to Echo Point from here too.



The walk is well maintained and 'easy' to do but we only did short sections of it because it was very tempting for a certain person to literally veer off the beaten track.



Sorry for The Three Sisters overload in this post.


We took the Skyway back to Scenic World.


We had a little break before facing the queue for our next ride.  The atmosphere at Scenic World is a bit like a ski resort.  Lots of young tanned people are on staff, clad in adventure wear (as opposed to active wear) and all quick with a joke and a perfect smile.  The soundtrack was just as beat driven as it was in the snow (in the two times in my life that I've visited it but you get what I'm trying to say...).



In addition to the food outlets there's also a gift shop and this is the only photo I took inside it.


They're wooden scent diffusers and they were tempting playthings for all the children waiting in line for the Scenic Railway which was the ride with longest wait on the day we visited.


The current incarnation of the railway was built in 2013 and is the steepest passenger train in Australia.  It descends 310 metres at a 52 degree incline into the Jamison Valley.




This is what the existing rail line looks like.

The original sky train.  Look at the lack of safety restraints!  It was a different world in the 1930s...


The original railway was a mining train that was open to the public at weekends.  The original train is still on display next to the current one.


It was just a bit thrilling descending that far down a valley, being plunged into darkness and then finally looking up at the ranges.  It was well worth the half an hour wait in line.


After alighting the train, we joined the Scenic Walkway for a ten minute walk through the valley.


My train buff kindergartener had plenty to explore.


The walkways were canopied by the trees of the forest and it was one of the most peaceful and refreshing tourist attractions I've ever wondered through.




We ended the day with a ride back up to the top of the escarpment on the Scenic Cableway.


We saw Orphan Rock on the way through.  It used to be open to hikers but is now too unstable for humans to explore.


We waited for the shuttle bus back to Katoomba station with this steam clock for company.  It actually whistles instead of chiming and almost looked golden in the autumn sun.  The clock plays sections of Waltzing Matilda on the quarter, half and full hours.  Did you know that most of the functioning steam clocks in the world are designed and built by the Canadian Raymond Saunders?

Have you visited the Blue Mountains?  What's the most adventurous thing you've done on its ranges and/or in its valleys?

2 comments:

  1. That looks like such a fun day out! I really like the blue mountains, it always looks so fun in photos, but I've never been! I'm glad you had a good day out, even if the queues were a bit much on a busy school holiday.

    The railway looks a little scary, but I have two boys who would love it very much!

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  2. We just got ourselves annual passes for Scenic World and I'm looking forward to getting good use out of them. We arrived just after opening on Easter Monday (9.30am?) and the queues were doable, but things got hectic towards the end. Our visitors opted for the medium length walk between the train and cable car which was good, but I'm keen to do the long one next time. I love those boardwalks down there, as you say so peaceful and refreshing. Also some cool wildlife around if you keep your eyes peeled!

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