Sydney: Blue Mountains – Scenic World

Travel Period : 1 May – 7 May 2014

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Day 5 Sydney Trip

Scenic World – Skyway 

After returning to our room at 3 Sisters Motel and taking a short break after our lunch at Yellow Deli, we began to make our way to our first destination at Blue Mountains — the Scenic World.

Scenic World is a privately owned tourist attraction located here in Katoomba, featuring 4 attractions — the Scenic Skyway, Scenic Cableway, Scenic Walkway and Scenic Railway. According to the Explorer Bus’ driver, it has been in the family for decades and he told us a nice piece of history about it while we were on the bus. This is a place one should not miss at the Blue Mountains.

From the map, we knew that the Scenic Skyway’s East Station is within walking distance from our motel. Filled with energy (because our stomachs had been filled! Yeah!) and much anticipation for our activities ahead, we strolled lightheartedly towards the station. Vehicles were few on the road and we felt like we were the only ones in the vicinity.

A slope laid in front of us and we started making the walk downhill. Some time later, the station came into our views and we could confirm we were indeed on the right track! The surroundings were getting a little too secluded that I was beginning to doubt my mapping and navigation skills. ^^|

Da5BlueMountains_ToStation

As we got closer, we could see a small crowd at the station, queuing for the next Skyway ride which was just arriving at this East Station.

“Let’s go!” We quickened our pace so that we would be able to make it in time for this ride. I wouldn’t want to waste time waiting for the next ride (though we had no idea how long the interval was).

No tickets were checked at this station, as this would only be done when we arrived at the other end, where the main buildings of the Scenic World are at. As we joined in the queue, it began to move as people started boarding the Skyway. Phew! Just in time!

The cabin was quite spacious and we didn’t feel cramped inside despite having around 20 odd passengers in it. I remembered reading online that it would be advisable to stand on the left side so that we would be able to see the Three Sisters during the ride. We did so and the Skyway began to move.

# Sceneries We Saw

Initially, we were a little afraid that it would turn out to be a scary ride, since we were gliding between cliff tops 720 metres apart and suspended 270 metres above ancient ravines! Fortunately, this turned out to be a stable, safe-feeling journey. As a result, we were able to concentrate on admiring the sceneries while the guide on-board gave us insights on what we were looking at.

Th electro-glass cabin floor turned transparent during the journey and those standing in the middle could actually look downwards to check out the ancient ravines below. We didn’t experience that since we were standing by the sides. Overall, it was a wonderful and safe experience that kick-started our day here well. ^^

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The Jamison Valley stretching across the horizon

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The Three Sisters in a distance

Arriving at Scenic World, we scanned our wrist bands (given to us when we bought the Lyrebird Passes at Explorer Bus shop earlier). These wrist bands would give us unlimited rides in Scenic World for one day.

Our next destination was the Scenic Walkway and to get there, we had two routes — by the Scenic Cableway or Railway. We chose the former as we believed the latter would result in a scary downhill ride. It’s well-known as the steepest railway in the world after all!

After passing through the ticket gantries, we climbed up the stairway, followed the signs to walk through the souvenir shop and headed towards the Cableway Station. A ride just left so we had to wait for it to return. It was roughly a 15-minute wait and we used the time to admire the scenery from the station.

We then boarded the cableway when it arrived.

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It was a short but fun ride down into the Jamieson Valley, where we could have a closer look of the beautiful mountains with blue mist over it, the reason for its ‘Blue Mountains’ name.

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It was really BLUISH. No colour enhancement on this pic.

Scenic Walkway 

Reaching the bottom, we alighted from the Cableway and came across a map of the Scenic Walkway.

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We decided to head right towards the Coal Mine first, since we were more interested in that.

Arriving at the Coal Mine, we were disappointed that due to safety reasons, all we could see was the external portion of the mine, which had long been abandoned. It still has hundreds of kilometers of tunnels within though. We were expecting to explore at least some parts of the mine, like what we did in the gold mine at Jinguashi of Taiwan and the salt mine at Hallstatt of Austria. There was a ventilation furnace to look at with a dummy coal-miner inside though.

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(Lower Right): We did get to see the old Scenic Railway and pretending it was falling onto us ^^

As we walked further along the same path, we soon reached the Scenic Railway Station. However, as we still wanted to explore more of the Scenic Walkway, we backtracked and headed down a stairway after passing the mine.

The stairway led us deep down into the Jurassic jungle, which had existed for millions of years. Wow! Will we be able to discover dinosaur eggs or fossils here then? ^^|

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The trail was mostly gradual and suitable for visitors of all ages, though the stair climbing could prove to be tedious when climbing back up. Anti-slip floor mats were placed at most parts of the trail to prevent slipping during wet weather conditions.

# Eucalpyts

Along the way, we passed by numerous Eucalpyts trees, their leaves being the source of the bluish mist in this region. There were signs at various locations explaining the different species.

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# Miner’s Hut

As we walked on, we reached a small hut known as the Miner’s Hut. It was quite dark in the hut so we could barely make out how a mine worker’s living quarter would have looked like (maybe the point was to show that a miner’s hut was this dark? ^^|). After our eyes could adjust better to the darkness, we observed simple decor with the basic necessities.

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We could only take decent photos of its interior using our camera’s flash

# Sculptures

Along most parts of the trail, we also came across interesting eco-sculptures, which were from the 30 selected entries of a competition held at Scenic World earlier this year.

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We managed to cover almost the entire 2.4 kilometres trail, before making our way back to the Scenic Railway Station again. This time, we were ready to take it back up to Scenic World.

Scenic Railway

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Initially, we wanted to choose the front seats (i.e. lowest deck) but fearing that it would be too scary for Dar, we chose the ones near the back instead. As the train began to move backwards, we did not feel much and were wondering why this was called the steepest railway in the world.

However, once it started to climb upwards, the angle of ascend increased abruptly! We were quickly pulled upwards as the tram moved rapidly in an almost vertical angle! The Scenic Railway does live up to its name!

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Whoooooa!!

At this moment, my backpack (which was sitting on my lap) felt like it was going to topple forward due to the sudden inclination! I instinctively grabbed hold of it, before it fell and landed onto the passengers below us! That would be really drastic then. Phew!

After the initial euphoria, we began to returned to calmness and started to appreciate the views for the rest of the ride. Dar was still a little frightened as he held tightly to my arm, fearing that he would fall forward since there wasn’t any safety belt available. We were also glad we didn’t choose to take the downward ride on this as it would likely to be an even scarier ride. ^^|

Souvenirs 

Returning to the souvenir shop, we had some time to browse through the wares to find something we like, before the next Explorer Bus arrived. We bought a DIY Scenic Railway Paper model for Dar, Honey Eucalyptus Sweets for ourselves & family and a Blue Mountains postcard explaining the Legend of the Three Sisters.

We then made it outside to catch the next Blue Mountains Explorer Bus, which took us around ‘Landslide Lookout’, a scenic on-board tour with beautiful scenery to behold. We sat on the left side of the upper deck for the best vantage point.

The driver also did an excellent job by driving and stopping at each viewpoint (even when they were other vehicles blocking the route), making sure we would not miss any of the spectacular views, as he provided us with information about each location. We were impressed with the service once again!

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