Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Katoomba and Scenic World

November 28th, 2009 - Katoomba

After breakfast at the Sydney Fish Market we headed west on the highway toward Katoomba, the so-called "Gateway" to the Blue Mountains. The drive there was a good way to get accustomed to driving on the left since it was mostly highway driving and pretty easy. The road started to get a little bit curvey once we got up into the hills, but nothing too challenging. When we reached Katoomba, we parked in a pay spot and started walking. Our first stop was the Queen Elizabeth lookout. This is the spot where Queen Elizabeth II first viewed the Jamison Valley in 1954.

We walked down to the lookout and saw the Three Sisters, Mount Solitary, and the expansive Jamison Valley. The commonly told legend of the Three Sisters is that three sisters fell in love with three men from a neighboring tribe, but marriage was forbidden by tribal law. Battle ensued, and the sisters were turned to stone by an elder to protect them, but he was killed in the fighting and no one else could turn them back. This legend is falsely claimed to be an Indigenous Australian Dreamtime legend. (

Regardless of the authenticity of the legend, the view is geniunely fantastic. Hopefully some of my pictures will give you an idea of what makes this place so majestic.

We decided to start hiking toward Katoomba Falls, as a sign directed us. We had paid for an hour of parking and had to keep in mind the time as we took in the views. I needed to stop every couple minutes to take another photo... a rock formation, another flower, some insects, a vista across the valley - everything was amazing! We accidentally stumbled into the terminus of the Scenic Skyway, a cable gondola over the valley floor past Katoomba Falls to Scenic World. From Scenic World, we could take the Scenic Railway or Scenic Cableway to or from the Scenic Walkway around the valley floor. We decided to take the Scenic Skyway to Scenic World and back, then walk back to the car and drive back to Scenic World.

Once back at Scenic World, we took the Scenic Railway to the valley floor. The Scenic Railway is actually the world's steepest funicular. This one was originally used by coal miners but is now an attraction for locals and tourists. From wikipedia:

"The Scenic Railway is said to be the steepest cable-driven funicular railway in the world, with an incline of 52 degrees over a distance of 415 metres. It was originally constructed for a coal and oil shale mining operation in the Jamison Valley in the 1880s, in order to haul shale from the valley floor up to the escarpment above. It was converted for use as a tourist attraction prior to World War II."

When we got to the bottom of the valley it seemed dark under the shade of the trees. We walked toward the north for a long time before deciding we needed to head back. Once we got back to the walkway, we walked around on the boardwalk for a while. The boardwalk takes hikers past some coal mining artifacts and a freshwater spring. There are also explanatory signs placed along the walk.

We made our way to the Scenic Cableway which takes people back up to the stop of the cliff and parking area. By now Matt and I were both pretty tired out from walking so much and the heat was starting to wear us down. We bought some water in the shop at Scenic World and got back in the car. I had missed a call from Cheryl, so I called back and she invited us to a friends' house for St. Andrews Day dinner. We punched the address into our GPS and headed back into the city.

No comments: