Katoomba Scenic World Part III: All Aboard the Scenic Railway!

I was exhausted after my decent into Jamison Valley.  Not since 8th grade outdoor ed. had I hiked so much, and in such a short amount of time.  Back then, I had hiked over 12 miles (20 km) in the Appalachians, around northern New Jersey.  Granted, this hike was shorter, and wasn’t technically in the middle of nowhere, but all those carved stairs was like half that hike, compressed into about an hour of walking!  If only my old gym teacher could have seen me…

Katoomba Waterfall

Katoomba Waterfall

One bathroom break and a bottle of water later, Rachel and I headed back across the valley on board the Skyway.  This time around, I was able to get more pictures; on one side was the cascading Katoomba Waterfall, and the other was the great vista that was the Blue Mountains.  Both views reminded me of why this is such a beautiful country.  Funny how they call it the Blue Mountains, but all I saw was an ever expanding panorama of green.  But if you were to stare out into the distance, you’d see a faint mixture of green and blue, touching the horizon; a reflection of the blue sky gently caressing the green tops of the trees.

Is it The Blue Mountains or The Green Mountains?

Is it The Blue Mountains or The Green Mountains?

"The greenest of the Blue Mountains."

“The greenest of the Blue Mountains.”

After disembarking from the Skyway, we headed on foot to the Katoomba Scenic Railway, the steepest railway in the world.  The Scenic Railway is one of the steepest cable-driven funicular railway in the world, the steepest incline of 52 degrees contained within a total incline distance of 415 metres (1,361.5 ft).  It was originally constructed for a coal and oil shale mining operation in the Jamison Valley in the 1880s, in order to haul the coal and shale from the valley floor up to the escarpment above.  From 1928 to 1945 it carried coal during the week and passengers at weekends.  The coal mine was closed in 1945 after which it remained as a Tourist Attraction.

Katoomba Scenic Railway

Katoomba Scenic Railway

The path towards the railway felt like being back in Disney World; it took away from the ambiance of the place for a bit.  The train carriage looked more like a roller coaster, which only added to the excitement.  Rachel and I stepped into a row near the rear; so much for waiting on line for the front car.  Once we took our seats, we noticed that there was a lever at the end of the row that could alter the angle of your seats.  In other words, as you head downhill, you can literally make your seat lean in more and more towards the abyss-like hill!  Or for those who lack a spine, you can lean back against the funicular, and not suffer a case of vertigo.  Sadly, our row didn’t come with this cool feature, so Rachel and I rode it, sans adjustment.

"Lean in, or lean back!"

“Lean in, or lean back!”


As the train began its slow descent, I was practically leaning into the train for dear life!  It was so steep, that I can’t believe I didn’t scream as the train headed downhill!  Then again, we wear heading down at a comfortable pace; I’m not sure about the speed, but it was probably under 20 mph.

The train car pulled into the station at the bottom of the hill.  When Rachel and I disembarked, we stared uphill at the tracks and couldn’t believe just how steep it was!  Railway was probably a misnomer as roller coaster would have been a more apt description of what we had just ridden.  Actually, speaking of roller coasters, you’ll find remnants of a roller coaster track set up around parts of Scenic World.  In 1984, Scenic World began building a roller coaster known as the Orphan Rocker, named after the nearby Orphan Rock.  This was the first roller coaster to be completely designed and manufactured in Australia.  The highlight of this ride was meant to be a swooping banked turn that takes riders within meters of the edge of a 656 ft. cliff.  The roller coaster has never publicly opened due to demands for redevelopment elsewhere onsite.  The roller coaster track has been left in place for possible redevelopment in the future.  In fact, if you look out over the Skyway and the Scenic Railway, you can see roller coaster track set up all over the place.

Scenic Railway uphill climb

Scenic Railway uphill climb

"It's a LONG way up..."

“It’s a LONG way up…”

Coming up next, the thrilling conclusion of Rachel and I in Scenic World; a less strenuous, but scenic walk through the bush along the Scenic Walkway.  TO BE CONTINUED…

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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3 Responses to Katoomba Scenic World Part III: All Aboard the Scenic Railway!

  1. Rachel Gotsis says:

    I hope you enjoyed this day as much as I did. I can’t wait till ny kids are a little older and I can relive our day with Will, Isaac and Charlotte!

  2. lorraine skelly says:

    the photography and the history are amazing but even better are the stories that Jared tells. i loved reading about the scenic railway. it puts Australia on my top 5 places that i would like to visit. great job Jared way too go down under.

  3. PJ Lattimer says:

    Jared, you are a very good writer and I love your photos. Thanks for mentioning me in your blog. Whomever gives you a job as a travel journalist will get an excellent employee. I am very proud of you.

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