With crisp air and vast landscapes, winter is the perfect time for a Blue Mountains adventure. Here’s four reasons why you need to visit.
1. Come out of your winter hibernation
Things only get better here during winter – the days may be cold and crisp but the sky is usually blue and clear, with visibility out to the Great Dividing Range. In the upper villages, ice and frost cover the ground with the occasional snowfall, creating a winter wonderland (and the perfect excuse to cosy up in front of a fire!). But when you get out and about, the best winter day is spent exploring Scenic World.
Start with an early ride on the Scenic Skyway to see the amazing views over Katoomba Falls and the Jamison Valley. Hop off at the Skyway’s eastern anchorage to get some photos from the lookout and stroll along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk to Echo Point to see the famous Three Sisters. Return to the main building by Skyway and from here take the steep iconic Scenic Railway down to the valley.
At the bottom walk along the Scenic Walkway over the Jamison Valley floor – during the colder months, and even in the rain, the colours of the rainforest surrounding the walkway are magnificent: mist shrouds the towering cliffs above, raindrops cling to the lush green leaves and birdlife is more active. From here, take the 545-metre ride up the Scenic Cableway to the top of the escarpment, enjoying views of the Three Sisters, Orphan Rock, Mt Solitary and Katoomba Falls as you go.
2. Get your walking shoes on
Take advantage of the free all-day parking at Scenic World, a great base to have an all-day walking adventure! Take the Scenic Skyway from the main building across the valley (suspended 270 metres in the air) to the east anchorage and enjoy the leisurely Prince Henry Cliff Walk.
Take in the spectacular views of the Jamison Valley as you meander along the escarpment which leads to the iconic Three Sisters. From here, take the Giant Staircase which winds down alongside the Three Sisters to the Jamison Valley floor. The Federal Pass in the Blue Mountains National Park will take you from here through the rainforest, via Katoomba Falls, and ends at the base of Scenic World.
From here, you can either get your heart pumping and climb the 1000 Furber Steps or take the Scenic Railway to the top. It will take around two hours from start to finish, though you may take longer when you see the views.
3. Celebrate a milestone
September marks the 70th anniversary of the Blue Mountains’ iconic Scenic World, which first opened in 1945 when Harry Hammon acquired the lease of the former historic Katoomba Coal Mine. Driven by visitors’ fascination of the steep railway that led into the rainforest, Hammon saw a wonderful opportunity to convert the old coal skips and tracks into a passenger train, which was to be the steepest in the world.
It still holds that esteemed title today, giving visitors unparalleled access to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains. Run by the same family, now in their third generation, Scenic World is the country’s most visited privately owned tourist attraction. To celebrate over 25 million visitors creating memories here, there are a number of special events planned to acknowledge this wonderful occasion.
4. Capture the perfect shot
If you’re a keen amateur photographer, the Blue Mountains is the perfect backdrop to test out your skills. Blue Mountains local and professional photographer Gary P. Hayes suggests the best spots to get snap happy on Scenic World’s blog. But we’ve listed our favourites here:
Middle Platform, Katoomba Falls: A great spot for sunset photos as the cliffs glow red – you get the close-up of the falls on your left and views into Jamison Valley and Mount Solitary.
Sublime Point, Leura: An easily accessible lookout which is great at sunrise, which lights up Mt Solitary and the back of the Three Sisters on the right.
Govett’s Leap, Blackheath: Hayes suggests this is the easiest but best vista lookouts with spectacular views, again best photographed at sunrise when the rays highlight the frequent valley mist.
Valley of the Waters, near Wentworth Falls: Take the descent into a deep gorge along the ridge from Conservation Hut for stunning waterfalls and great vistas. It’s an all-day walk but worth it!