The Blue Mountains In Katoomba, Australia
Katoomba is a gateway to many magnificent sites in the Blue Mountains of Australia. Located close to Sydney, it is perfect for an excursion away.
In 1874 there was a spot along the railway line in the Blue Mountains known as ‘Crushes.’ It was here that stone was quarried to act as ballast for the trains. In 1877 it became Katoomba.
Katoomba is based on the aboriginal word ‘Kedumba’ meaning ‘shiny, falling water.’ Once you have visited the area the name takes on a more mystical meaning. The inherent beauty of the region can be seen in the many exotic natural attractions that abound
Today Katoomba is one of the major tourist sites in the Blue Mountains. Sydney residents find the area a great place to get away for a weekend or just a few hours. It can be easily reached by car or train and is located about 110 km from Sydney.
This mountain town retains a visage of old elegance and an essence of bye-gone times. The art-deco, art-nouveau facades of the cafes and shops portray a rather whimsical ambience.
In 1879 J. B. North opened the Katoomba Coal mine and the town grew quickly. The coal was taken from the side of the mountain and brought up to the top via cable car. The Scenic Railway, a tourist attraction today, was built to service this coal mine. Miners were transported to the valley floor much as travelers today are conveyed to the same area.
The Scenic Railway remains the world’s steepest incline railway with areas as sharp as forty five degrees. Visitors pass through a tunnel in the mountain side, through areas of primitive rainforest and breath-taking scenery to stop at the Jamison Valley floor. Many bushwalking trails, long and short, can be accessed from this area.
The Scenic Skyway is a cable car ride that the brave of heart may take across the valley. It grants visitors spectacular views of the ‘Three Sisters’ rock formation, Orphan Rock and the Katoomba Falls Gorge. The car travels some 220 feet above the valley floor and has been in operation since approximately 1958.
Echo Point is located at the southern end of Katoomba Street, the main avenue of the town. This area is host to the famous ‘Three Sisters” rock formation, a popular tourist attraction. An aboriginal dream- time legend has it that the rocks were three sisters of the Katoomba tribe. These sisters fell in love with men from another tribe, but tribal laws made marriage impossible. When their lovers found this out, the men swore to take the sisters by force. A witch doctor of the Katoomba tribe felt that the sisters were in danger and he turned them into rocks to protect them. The Shaman died in the ensuing battle. Since only he could reverse the magic, the “Three Sisters” sit eternally on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Jamison Valley.
Visitors will want to stop at The Katoomba Visitor Information Centre at Echo Point. Updated information on attractions and events are available at the Centre. The “Giant Stairway” offers a challenge of 800 steps to the valley floor for the energetic and hale. There are many bush walks available in the area, guided tours are popular. Many offer unusual and stunning views of the Megalong Valley as well. There are many lookouts in the area that provide many diverse views of this incredible region.
An interesting old hotel sits in the center of this quaint town. Built in 1882 by Mr. Harry Rowell, the hotel was the first one built in Katoomba. It was named the ‘Great Western Hotel’ and was a jewel of elegance and charm. In 1886 major modifications were made to the hotel after it was purchased by Mr. F. Goyder. He renamed the hotel “The Carrington” to honor the governor of that time. The hotel has been renovated again in 1998, it remains an elegant old building.
The area abounds with a wide scope of outdoor recreation. An adventurer can choose between rock climbing, abseiling, canyoning, and caving. The Australian School of Mountaineering is located in Katoomba and offers beginning classes in many of these areas. Other companies that give instruction can be found locally.
If you aren’t as adventuresome as others, you can still see the mountains as few others do. The Edge Maxvision Cinema offers a six stories high screen that allows you to experience areas in the mountains you couldn’t see on your own. “The Edge” is a spectacular peek into the natural vastness of the Blue Mountains.
A trip to Katoomba offers a wide range of adventure and breath taking scenery as well as historical information on a land still pristine and uncomplicated.