The Legend of the Three Sisters
The Aboriginal Dreamtime legend has it that three sisters, Meehni, Wimlah, and Gunnedoo, lived in the Jamison Valley as members of the Katoomba tribe. These beautiful young women had fallen in love with three brothers from the Nepean tribe, yet tribal law forbade them to marry. The brothers were not happy to accept this law and so decided to use force to capture the three sisters, which caused a major tribal battle. As the lives of the three sisters were in danger, a witch doctor from the Katoomba tribe took it upon himself to turn the three sisters into stone to protect them from any harm. He had intended to reverse the spell later, but was killed in the battle and the sisters were doomed to remain in their magnificent rock formation forever.
Four-attractions-in-one are offered at Scenic World (tel. 1300/759 929 in Australia or 02/4780 0200; www.scenicworld.com.au). The Scenic Railway, the world’s steepest, consists of a carriage on rails that is lowered 415 m (1,361 ft.) into the Jamison Valley at a maximum incline of 52 degrees. It’s very steep and quite a thrill. The trip takes only a few minutes; at the bottom is the 2.4 km Scenic Walkway, a boardwalk through forests of ancient tree ferns. Another way to get down is on the Scenic Cableway, not to be confused with the Scenic Skyway, a different form of cable car that travels 270m (885 ft.) above—and across—the Jamison Valley, between two cliffs. A ticket that includes all four attractions costs A$35 adults, A$18 children 4 to 12, and A$88 families of up to 7 (you can’t buy separate tickets for any of the attractions). Scenic World is open 9am to 5pm daily. You’ll find it on Violet Street (corner of Cliff Dr.), Katoomba.
If you are driving back to Sydney, take the Bells Line of Road through Bilpin and stop off at the wonderful Blue Mountains Botanic Garden (tel. 02/4567 3000; www.mounttomahbotanicgarden.com.au) at Mount Tomah. (You can’t miss the large sign on your right about 10 min. before you get to Bilpin.) It is an adjunct of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney and well worth a stop.
Seeing the Blue Mountains from the Back of a Harley
A thrilling way to see the Blue Mountains is on the back of a chauffeur-driven Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Wild Ride Australia (tel. 1300/783 338, or 0410/418 740 mobile; www.wildride.com.au) will take you on a 1-hour exhilarating ride to see some of the sights around Katoomba. Rides cost A$130.
The Zig Zag Railway
The Zig Zag Railway (tel. 02/6355 2955; www.zigzagrailway.com.au), an impressive narrow-gauge railway, is in Clarence, 10km (6 miles) east of Lithgow in the Blue Mountains. The whole journey takes around 1 1/2 hours, and is both beautiful and dramatic, with steep gradients, tunnels, and sandstone viaducts.
Steam trains run every Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, public holiday, and almost every day during NSW school holidays. Diesel trains run Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, outside of NSW public school holidays. Call for hours and prices.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.