07 April 2009

Favourite places we've visited: Scenic World, Katoomba.

For all the non-Aussies out there, Katoomba is situated in the Blue Mountains, a gorgeous World Heritage Listed region to the west of Sydney, Australia. Favoured in bygone days as a health resort, it is a centre of tourism in our region - and with good reason. The natural beauty of the area is outstanding, and there are many ways of enjoying a day or a week in the area.

Unfortunately, most tourist buses only visit Echo Point, to view the Three Sisters rock formation, and iconic view known from thousands of postcards, and then force you to spend all your money at horrible souvenir shops. Pity - there is so much more in the mountains.

Scenic World, from my childhood, was one such tourist trap. A few years ago we stayed in Katoomba when the opportunity arose for Yvette to do some teaching in Katoomba. The girls and I spent a day at Scenic World, and I was genuinely pleased at the transformation that has been effected in the intervening years. Sure, it's still a tourist trap, but it has certainly improved. There are three elements to a visit. 

Firstly, there's the cable car suspended high above the valley, overlooking the National Park. On a good-weather day the view is incredible. I remember the old tin-pot cable car which has thankfully been relegated to the carpark, and we marvelled that this new version, with its glass floor for viewing directly below (and somewhat creepy to stand on).

Secondly, there is the Scenic Railway. Once built to haul miners up from and down to the valley floor, it is a very steep rack rail that is more like a tame rollercoaster. It still sets your stomach a-flutter as it appears to plunge over the cliff in an almost vertical position.

Thirdly, at the bottom of the Scenic Railway there is a wonderful new boardwalk through the temperate rainforest in the valley. This is absolutely fantastic. There are little boards describing the ecology of the rainforest, particular plant species, and a very cool, green ambience that can consume many lazy hours of wandering and sitting.

So, while Scenic World is very touristy, it is not as bad as you might think. The addition of the rainforest walk is certainly a plus. If you can manage a bushwalk as well, you'd end up with a really great day out with the kids in a natural environment. At the end, of course, there are always the rewards on offer at Blue Mountains Chocolate - all hand made, and only a few streets from Echo Point. Mmmmmm!

1 comment:

  1. There is also a cable car down into Megalong Valley now too.