The Unesco World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park has a new attraction - and it’s not for acrophobics. The Beyond Skyway experience is an evolution of Katoomba’s Scenic World Skyway, a large aerial cable car that carries up to 84 passengers 384 metres across the valley. Now, you can (literally) take it up a level and book a private journey for two or four people atop the Skyway roof, in complete open air.
Picture yourself suspended above the stunning Jamison Valley, looking out over the hypnotic cascade of Katoomba Falls. The sun is setting to the west, and the pink hues form a golden glow upon the monumental sandstone cliffs around you. The brisk, clean mountain air catches in your lungs. It’s pretty invigorating.
“There’s a couple of cable cars over in Europe where you can go on the roof, but it’s inside a fence and it’s like being on a balcony – you don’t need to be harnessed,” says Scenic World managing director Anthea Hammon. “It’s not the same free-space experience. This is open air which is just amazing and completely different to anything else out there.”
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Opened in early 2022, the new attraction is completely safe, as you’re kitted out with a harness and helmet, with any loose items like phones securely attached to you. After a safety briefing, you board the cable car as usual, and once you’ve reached the centre of the valley and the machine halts mid-air, an experienced guide pops open the latch to the roof, securely attaches carabiners to the poles and wiring above, and leads you up a ladder to a large platform.
Heart pumping, you’ll be overcome with the grandeur of your surroundings as you are free (and safely attached) to move around the rooftop.
At a height of 270 metres above the valley floor, it’s practically a 360-degree, birds-eye lens. From one edge you have the iconic Three Sisters owning the clifftops, with Mount Solitary visible in the distance. From the other side, you can dangle your legs over the rooftop and let the sounds of the thunderous Katoomba Falls wash over you.
The experience is offered after hours, from 5.15pm, so you’ll likely catch the sunset and beginning of nightfall. Hammon says, “The night sky and stars just go forever, and you can see the escarpment and Katoomba Falls lit up.”
On the rooftop, the Scenic World crew will treat you to their signature pomegranate, pineapple and pepperberry tonic mocktail or a hot chocolate. They’ll also capture some snaps for guests to take home. Boozier options – including champagne, wine and beer – are kept for the return journey inside the cable car after about 25 minutes outside.
Hammon, who’s a mechanical engineer by trade, has seen Scenic World transform in her 19-year tenure. Over $30 million has been invested in the family-run company since 2013 to overhaul the Scenic Railway and cableways. After spending time on the Skyway rooftop on numerous occasions – tending to repairs, marvelling at the view and feeling free – Hammon decided such an experience should be offered to the public.
It took about five years to plan the upgrade, including restructuring the roof with custom benches, implementing safety mechanisms and operational systems, and training the crew. Now anyone over the age of 10 can try it out.
While you’re there, why not make a whole trip of it? By day, you can follow rainforest boardwalks on the valley floor at Scenic World, try more adrenaline-filled activities like hiking the Grand Canyon trail or canyoning, or check out some other worthwhile Blue Mountains offerings nearby. Find tranquillity at the rustic Logan Brae Orchard, try some impeccable small-batch release beers at Mountain Culture Beer Co, and stay overnight at a pastel-hued converted 1970s motel: Kyah Boutique Hotel.
Beyond Skyway passes are available from $349.