When I think of my childhood, it is chock-a-block filled with memories of visiting the Blue Mountains. Our family photo album is overflowing with photos of us, posing in front of the world’s steepest railway at Scenic World, with pristine rainforest as our backdrop. (You can tell what year it was in each photo based on my hairstyle and outfit. The photos from my teenage years are particularly gold. What was with all the hair gel?).
It was only 90 minutes away, but to a little girl growing up in the Sydney suburbs, it always felt like such an adventure. This was back in the days when many cars didn’t have air-conditioning and there were no devices to keep us entertained in the backseat. So we’d roll the windows down, turn the radio up and play I-Spy with mum and dad, arriving slightly sticky and sweaty, but besides-ourselves-excited about the chance to be in the Great Outdoors.
Fast-forward two decades, and we decided to spend my firstborn’s first birthday in the Blue Mountains. Scenic World was at the top of our list and the nostalgia was fierce. Isn’t it amazing how vivid childhood memories can be!? Our firstborn is an August baby so we were rugged up in our Winter woolies which seemed strange. All of my childhood memories were of visiting this place in Summer, kitted out in singlets and thongs, feeling the hot sun at the top station and escaping the heat down on the rainforest floor.
I distinctly recall clambering aboard the Scenic Railway as a kid, and gripping the seat tightly as the world’s steepest passenger railway descended and rattled to the valley floor. The rattling… I can still distinctly recall the rattling, competing with the sound of my mum’s voice warning us to keep our hands inside the carriage.
Since then, the railway has had an amazing upgrade. The newly designed carriages now have glass-roofed carriages that give amazing views of the 310-metre descent to the Jamison Valley rainforest floor. We were impressed to see how the new carriages allow passengers to adjust the degree of their seated position. If you ride at 52 degrees, you’re riding at the original position from the good, old days. Or you can choose to rise in the “Cliffhanger” position at a 64-degree incline. I, of course, rode at 52 degrees because I’m a sucker for nostalgia (as you may have gathered).
Disembarking at the bottom station, with the babe in the sling, we wandered along the elevated boardwalks of the Scenic Walkway. This happens to be the longest elevated boardwalk in Australia. We took our time. We stopped and read the interpretative signs. We chatted with other families enjoying the sights and sounds of the ancient rainforest. We enjoyed the fresh air. We didn’t look at our phones once. We may have proclaimed a fair few times, “How’s the Serenity?”
We returned to the top of the escarpment via the Scenic Cableway, taking in all the iconic sites like the Three Sisters and Mt Solitary. My husband and I marvelled at how the Cableway didn’t exist back when we were kids. It’s a rad way to get back to the top of the escarpment whilst experiencing yet another beautiful perspective of this World-Heritage listed place.
From the rainforest floor to the sky, we then boarded the Scenic Skyway and marvelled at the rainforest canopy through the electro-glass floor. I could hear the childhood voice of my mum muttering about how she didn’t want to look down. (Never fear- if heights aren’t your thing, seating and solid floors are available.) I can remember the Skyway from my childhood being squishy and squashy. The Skyway of my adulthood was amazingly slick and spacious. Miss One oohed and aahed with us as we took in the incredibly beautiful views. Since we were there, the Skyway has had a $3 million upgrade which has increased the space inside the cabin, allowing visitors to completely soak in the amazing 360-degree views.
This was the way in which we took in all the experiences on offer at Scenic World. You can check out the Scenic World website for some excellent suggested itineraries. They have itineraries to cater to everybody’s needs- there’s an itinerary for those who are scared of heights, those who want an element of adventure, those with a penchant for photography. Truly something for everybody.
I passionately believe that one of my important roles, as a mum, is being Chief Memory-Maker. Exposing my children to experiences that will be deeply etched into their memories well into their adulthoods. I’m also conscious of making sure they spend as much time connected to nature as possible and disconnected from devices. Since taking our firstborn to Scenic World, we’ve welcomed two more children into our family. (That escalated quickly!) We’re looking forward to heading back to Scenic World this summer as a family of five.
Scenic World’s Ultimate Discovery Pass includes unlimited travel on all the attractions (the kid in me will be on that Scenic Railway at least three times!), so you can enjoy making all those memories!