On our first trip to Australia’s Blue Mountains, Three Sisters Rock Formation and Scenic World Katoomba were suggested as must-see stops. We learned that the Three Sisters could be viewed easily from the privately owned Scenic World and we would have the opportunity to ride the steepest passenger railway in the world. We purposely booked accommodations near there at the Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains.
I had assumed that the Scenic World Cableway, Skyway and Railway were purchased separately and prepared the kids for only one experience. However, we discovered upon arrival that it is set-up similar to a theme park where you purchase an armband at the entrance permitting unlimited rides on each. They did offer a suggestion on what to do first and the best route to take with kids.
This is a picture of Mount Solitary from the Cableway upper platform waiting on our ride down to the lower walkway.
You can see both Mount Solitary and the Three Sisters from the upper platform.
The Scenic Cableway is larger than I expected holding several rows of seating for up to 84 passengers and slowly made its way down to the 2.4 kilometer walkway below. This one might cause your stomach to turn if you have a fear of heights (you could always position yourself in the back). Once inside the cable car, it is a steep decline into the trees below. They recommended to us to take the Cableway down and then ride up via the railway; however, you could easily ride each a couple of times to get the full experience.
Here is a glimpse out the front of the cable car glass at the sharp decline.
I sat on the front row so I could get this picture of the final approach.
Once you exit the cableway, you are free to walk along the boardwalk at your own pace. There are 3 distance options depending on how much time you want to spend along the walkway. You could take the short 10 minute walk or extend your time down below by spotting native birds, admiring the old coal mine or experience a replica miner’s hut.
The boardwalk was built with the environment in mind carving around trees in order to allow them to grow naturally.
Here is a look inside the coal miners’ replica hut. I think the girls found it to be a bit shocking that someone could live in this tiny space.
We took a moment to glance up the center of a hollowed out native tree. You are allowed to climb inside the rails and lean backwards to get a better look.
The old coal mine was of course blocked off with danger signs but there were steps leading to an entrance that allowed for a quick peak inside. The girls took turns posing on the statue horse and admired some of the tools displayed.
The coal mine is located next to the Railway which arrives every few minutes. I did not realize it at the time but there is a viewing bridge that crosses over the railway which would have been neat for taking pictures and capturing photos of the steep tracks.
The railway cars are built so you can sit more upright or lean back to peer out the glass roof. We decided to lean back and pressed our feet firmly against the rail in front of us. I was surprised that there were no seatbelts but never felt as though we were going to fall. Even my 5-year-old was able to secure herself without my help.
The music started immediately and we recognized it right off the bat as the theme song from “Indiana Jones”. The ride up does feel a bit uncomfortable as the railway cars seemed to barely squeeze between the mountains on both sides. The ride is slow though for those that do not enjoy thrills!
Next we jumped on the Skyway to cross the valley for a better view of the Three Sisters and Katoomba Waterfall. This cable car is built different from the one that descends to the walkway. The Scenic Cableway is fully enclosed for one thing but the Scenic Skyway has open air cutouts (perfect for getting the camera through). I will say the pictures were better not having to capture through the glass.
The Skyway also came with partially glass flooring for those daring enough to stand on it. There was mostly standing room but a few seats were available for those that opted to sit. I would not recommend sitting down though if you want to get a truly spectacular look at the Blue Mountains. One side presented a unique view of the Three Sisters, Orphan and Mount Solitary. The other side featured the Katoomba Waterfall. I felt like most of the crowd opted for the Three Sisters view attempting to secure a spot in the open area section for better pictures.
I have seen a couple Aboriginal legends written about the Three Sisters. One legend talks about three sisters from the Katoomba Tribe falling in love with brothers from a competing tribe. A law forbidding marriage caused the brothers to decide to kidnap the sisters. A battle ensued putting the sisters in danger. A witch doctor transformed them into rocks with the goal of turning them back at the fight conclusion. The legend claims the witch doctor instead was killed and was never able to reverse the spell. Sad story but a beautiful rock formation to admire by all!
The Three Sisters are located at Echo Point and we had planned on walking towards the lookout point and along the trail leading closer to the rock formations. The weather had something else in mind though. We had been warm walking along the Jamison Valley but at the top you are completely exposed in this area. We visited in August during a cold winter day. The wind felt like it was cutting right through me even with multiple layers and heavy coats. We took a few moments to take pictures before deciding to turn back.
We did manage to run up to the main platform overlooking the Jamison Valley and capturing the famous blue haze hovering above the mountains to give them their name. The blueish appearance actually comes from the dense eucalyptus forest releasing oil droplets into the air that mix with water vapour and dust particles to scatter the rays of light. Regardless, they are beautiful to admire!
We had intended to walk back towards Scenic World along a trail near the Katoomba Falls. The wind was too much to take so ended up scraping any walking trails and hopped back on the Skyway to lead us back to the main Scenic World entrance.
The return trip on the Skyway was less crowded and gave me the opportunity to get a closer look at the Katoomba Waterfall.
After arriving back at the Scenic World main building, we decided to head offsite for lunch followed by a swim in the hotel’s heated pool. There were lunch facilities onsite; however, the crowds had arrived making it difficult to navigate through the building. The lines were much longer for all the rides and the cafe’ was overflowing. My suggestion would be to arrive early on your trip before the bus loads begin to arrive.
Scenic World turned out to be better than I anticipated and I think the entire family enjoyed our morning there. I did hear rumblings that on rainy days the forest is gorgeous but happy we lucked out with a bright sunny day!