As the little train plummeted towards the valley floor, the Indiana Jones theme blared out. It’s the steepest funicular railway in the world, our guide breathlessly informed us.
Since the entire ride took less than a minute, it may also be, gee whillikers, the Shortest Train Track in Australasia if not the Southern Hemisphere, though this was not part of the publicity.
It had been many years since I last visited Scenic World, just outside Katoomba. I couldn’t see the point of paying perfectly good money for views available to anyone who walks to the edge of a cliff and looks straight ahead.
There are beautiful sights everywhere in the Blue Mountains valleys and escarpments, so why should they be any better seen from a Scenic Railway, Scenic Cablecar, or Skyway gondola?
Nonetheless, Scenic World seems to be very popular. Probably after the Three Sisters at Echo Point it is the most visited attraction in the region, so in the interests of research for my writing about good things to do in the mountains, I thought I should check it out.
I’ve ridden the Skyway before, so $16 for a look at the Jamison valley through the Electro Sceniglass floor seemed a bit steep. Instead I bought a $21 trip on the above-mentioned Scenic Railway with the promise that the Scenic Cableway would take me on the return trip.
At the bottom station there is something new, at least new since I was there. The Scenic Walkway is 2.8 kilometres of boardwalk, proudly declared the Longest In Australia, maybe even in Australasia.
And it is well done, passing through lovely forest, with information on the history of coal mining in the area (from the 19th century until 1945) and the local flora. I think I can now recognise a lawyer vine – they’re the ones with hooks that get stuck into you if brush up against them. I’m getting better at spotting turpentine, coachwood and blue gums too.
Until March 11 there is a sculpture exhibition there, which adds appeal. The work may not be up to Sculpture by the Sea standard, but the setting is unusual, particularly lending itself to art with an environmental theme.
Unfortunately artists are not named on plaques by the work, and it was a long way up the hill to go back and purchase a guidebook. If anybody knows who did any of the work below, let me know and I’ll add names to the captions. (Postscript: Thanks Wanda for supplying the information – now included.)
Art anywhere is in my book a worthy exercise and something which should be encouraged. It was a great start to my day.
Next to make the bushwalk out to the Ruined Castle. It will take me a few hours, looks like being one of the Blue Mountains’ best short hikes, and it will be the subject of a new post very soon.