FCA Social – Family Fun Sunday at the SCENIC WORLD, Blue Mountains, NSW

Words Liz Lacerda

An epic panoramas of wilderness, waterfalls and escarpment!

The Foreign Correspondents’ Association (FCA) – Australia & South Pacific members had the opportunity to a “Family Fun Day at Scenic World” on Sunday, November 2022.
Located in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains, Scenic World is a nature-based experience like no other. There was the Skyway to glide between cliff tops with panoramic views of amazing landscapes. This 720 metre journey provided the best views of the Three Sisters, Katoomba Falls, Mt Solitary and Jamison Valley.
FCA Members with Families
Suspended 270 metres above ancient ravines, breathtaking views of rainforest canopy are revealed beneath your feet through the electro-glass cabin floor. Photo: Barbara Barkhausen

A death-defying plunge into the forests of the Blue Mountains and an encounter with dinosaurs — washed down with coffee and croissants – that was just part of the experience for more than 20 FCA members and their families last Sunday, November 20. This was a great social occasion, fun for kids, friends and partners, as well as an opportunity for correspondents to find out how Scenic World is opening up to tourism again.

We were taking advantage of an invitation from Scenic World to visit their facilities in the heart of the Blue Mountains, one of Australia’s premier tourist attractions. During a hearty breakfast, our host, Scenic World’s Head of Marketing Axel Moline explained that overseas visitors at this World Heritage site are still less than 50% of what they were before Covid, but numbers are beginning to pick up after nearly three years of pandemic. In 2019, more than a million people visited the tourist attraction; by the end of this year, Scenic World estimates 400,000 visitors.

With China’s borders still closed, the major markets have shifted to the US and India. According to Mr Moline, the only positive outcome of the Covid years has been an increased focus on local tourists as well as local suppliers. “We are now better ingrained in the community,” he said, pointing out that most food and drinks in the cafeteria are now sourced from local businesses.

On another positive note: the Blue Mountains, one of the worst affected areas in the catastrophic 2019/2020 bushfires, have experienced an amazing recovery. Three La Niña cycles that brought cooler and wetter weather to the East of Australia have contributed to trees, bushes and flowers regrowing. “Our temperate eucalyptus forest is also adapted to regular fire,” Mr Moline said, adding that “it feels so long ago after everything we’ve gone through.” Years of drought and bushfires followed by years of rain have not helped, but now Scenic World wants to remind the world of what it has to offer.

After breakfast, the adventure started. We were given unlimited access for the day, starting with a trip down the steep railway that leads to the bottom of the valley. This is an old coal mine track that feels a bit like a slow-motion roller coaster, plunging steeply through cliff faces and forests to get to walking trail at the bottom. Along the trail are animatronic dinosaurs, adding a Cretaceous touch to the dark forests on the valley floor, triggered by sensors as we walked. At the end of it we came to the cable car – a different way back to the top of the cliff face.

Next stop was the Skyway, another cable car that bridges the dizzying gap between two clifftops. As it moved, the floor became clear glass, so that guests were floating 270 metres directly above the canopy of trees in the valley below. In front of us was the famous Three Sisters rock formation, and to our left we got a stunning view of the Katoomba Falls.

At the other end, we walked to the first level of the falls and splashed about taking photos. Then part of the group went back to the Skyway, while another group chose to walk back along the cliff top, taking in even more amazing views of the waterfall, complete with a rainbow.

Thanks to Scenic World for making this a fun trip as well as an informative one.

This trip was free of charge, and the FCA provided return transportation from Sydney.

Sunday, 20 November 2022

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