The Scenic Railway, Katoomba in The Blue Mountains – A Must-See For Tourists, Sydney Locals.. And Us!

ScenicRailway-8 Katoomba Blue Mountains

Yes, it really is the steepest railway in the world.

And here are the photos to prove it!

The Scenic Railway at Scenic World in Katoomba, up in the very beautiful Blue Mountains, genuinely is a record holder.  

The 52 degree incline at one point in the ride is the steepest railway incline in the world.

And yes, it feels very steep!

ScenicRailway Katoomba  Blue Mountains

Hopping aboard


ScenicRailway Katoomba Blue Mountains

A few nerves before setting off

And thrill seekers can make it even steeper by tilting their seats to an even steeper 64 degree incline. Madness.

The more sedate amongst us can adjust the tilt to make it less steep too.

ScenicRailway Katoomba Blue Mountains

My three children preferred the original.

ScenicRailway Katoomba Blue Mountains

Setting off, getting excited

ScenicRailway Katoomba Blue Mountains

The tunnel section does feel a bit scary

On the day we went to Scenic World we went up and down several times, and the kids just loved and loved and loved it.

Me too, especially the later journeys when I wasn’t trying to take photos whilst hanging on for dear life!

We all wished it was longer! The journey is just a couple of thrilling minutes long. But on a day pass you can go up and down as many times as your kids like.

ScenicRailway Katoomba Blue Mountains

This Scenic Railway train is brand new in 2013

ScenicRailway Katoomba Blue Mountains

The Scenic Railway – History

The Scenic Railway had its first incarnation as a railway to carry coal from mines at the bottom of the Katoomba escarpement to the top. Coal mining began in 1878.

The coal seam was visible and it was fairly easy for miners to start digging into the hillside to extract coal from the seam.

ScenicRailway Katoomba Blue Mountains coal seam

This is the very coal seam – amazing to see this.

At its busiest there were about 40 mines in the area. A railway was an efficient way to get to the coal up to Katoomba.

But how those miners made a railway up such a steep cliff back in the 1800’s beats me. Amazing engineering… and without all the modern equipment drilling and blasting equipment used nowadays.

When you see the entrance to the mines and the displays of drill bits and so on, you sure get a clear idea of how blody tough life was, and how tough the people were back in the olden days.

Not to mention the pit ponies. They must have been super tough too.

ScenicRailway- Katoomba Blue Mountains

During the Second World War many American troops on R & R would come to the Blue Mountains. It became popular to ask for a lift up in the railway.

In 1944 a man called Harry Hammon organised the first purely recreational trips on the railway. Those early trips grew into a thriving tourism business which we see at Scenic World today, still owned and managed by the Hammon family.

ScenicRailway Katoomba Blue Mountains

This is one of the older versions of the railway carriages

ScenicRailway Katoomba Blue Mountains

Later there were open-topped carriages

ScenicRailwayProff Katoomba Blue Mountains

This photo makes me tummy lurch… I think I prefer the closed top carriages!

I was born and brought up in a coal mining area in Scotland, there had been a very old railway there too which took coal from the mines down to the port.

It was really interesting for me to learn about the history of coal mining in the Blue Mountains and how it prompted the amazing engineering of the Scenic Railway too.

I’m thrilled that my children got a great history lesson as well as the thrill of the rides up and down the steep incline.

We did many trips, and we’ll be doing more again in the future, the kids will make sure of it!

Have you taken the family for a ride on the Scenic Railway yet?

Did you love it?

 Happy travelling.



For general information about Scenic World and the good value prices for families, click here.

Scenic World Intro Katoomba Blue Mountains

This blog is proudly sponsored by Scenic World.

Click here for info about and photos of the Scenic Cableway.

Click here for info about and photos of the Scenic Skyway.

Click here for info about and photos of the Scenic Walkway.


Linking today with Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travellers Sandbox – great travel pix there.

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Last Updated on

Posted on: July 19, 2013


  • Reply July 19, 2013


    How did you know we were heading to the mountains this weekend?
    I have seen adverts on TV for this and it takes me back many years ago. Such happy memories. The ads actually stop my son, so I think we all want to have a go.
    Great to see such an icon all new and shiny 🙂

    • Reply July 19, 2013

      Seana Smith

      Lucky you Becc,wish we could join you. Hope you have fun, the family pass is good especially if you stay all day. We will go again soon and I’m always keen to get there early to avoid crowds, walk about in middle of day if it’s nice etc Hope you enjoy the weekend.

  • Reply July 19, 2013

    Renee at Mummy, Wife, Me

    These pics took me back to when I went on the scenic railway when I was a kid. I will have to take my kids when they are old enough.

    • Reply July 19, 2013

      Seana Smith

      It must be a real Sydneysider rite of passage, so glad my kids enjoyed it. They love thrills and spills – chop off the old block.

  • Reply July 19, 2013


    I sooooo love the Scenic Railway! We took the boys when they were tiny. We’re due for another trip, I think! Love these photos, Seana!

    • Reply July 19, 2013

      Seana Smith

      They are funny aren’t they? You should have seen me clinging on and turning round to snap them.

  • Reply July 19, 2013

    Johanna at ZigaZag

    Wow that’s steep! Loved the look on your son’s face! The open top version looked like fun though. Have you ever been on the steep railway that goes up The Peak in Hong Kong?

    • Reply July 19, 2013

      Seana Smith

      Hi Johanna, I think I have done that one but long time ago. When I was a young au pair in Genova we used to catch a steep funiculare up to a fave drinking den called ‘I Tre Merli.’ Can’t remember how we got down – too much wine!

  • Reply July 19, 2013


    Wow, that’s quite a railway. The carriages are certainly interesting! Not sure how I’d cope with that!

    Being from FNQ, the scenic railway is the Kuranda line and I’ve been on it numerous times! 🙂

    • Reply July 20, 2013

      Seana Smith

      Must get there, I’ve been looking at it online after reading another comment. One day.

  • Reply July 19, 2013

    Desire Empire

    I have been going there for years and never knew the railway was originally for coal.

    I heard a lady talking about scenic world in the street the other day and she was saying how good it was and how much her kids loved it. I must get back their soon with my brood.

    • Reply July 20, 2013

      Seana Smith

      Thanks Carolyn, the exhibits these days are really good, the history of the railway line is great for kids to hear (and us.)

  • Reply July 19, 2013

    budget jan

    We have been to the Blue Mountains but we did not go on the train. I can’t remember why exactly. He he. I think I will do it next time 🙂

    • Reply July 20, 2013

      Seana Smith

      It’s a busy spot, I know that picking times when it’d be quieter works best for my family – there and everywhere. Hope you get there soon.

  • Reply July 19, 2013


    That looks fantastic Seana, but a bit scary!! The kids obviously loved it. The closest I’ve had to that experience is the Kuranda rail in North Qld. 🙂

    • Reply July 20, 2013

      Seana Smith

      I’ve heard of the Kuranda railway but have never been on it ever… and the kids have never visited FNQ. We’ll get there one day!

  • Reply July 20, 2013

    Dana Carmel

    This brings back memories – I too rode this railway back in 2007. I love the view of the Three Sisters from Katoomba as well.

    • Reply July 20, 2013

      Seana Smith

      Yes, that’s got a gorgeous view, the last time we were there it was super misty though so no view, but very atmospheric and beautiful still.

  • Reply July 20, 2013


    That photo made my tummy lurch too! It reminds me of a ride I took at Great Adventure one year — I had no idea it was going to take that drop.
    Anyway, sounds like you’re going back. Hope it’s as fun the second time around.

  • Reply July 20, 2013


    It’s been years since I was down there and we never did this. I want to know why! 🙂 I have something to look forward to, although it does look a bit scary.

  • Reply July 21, 2013


    This looks RIGHT up my alley, love me a bit of adrenalin pumping activities, not sure the kids would agree! That photo of your son is gold, he looks very nervous indeed! Great pics 🙂 x

  • This looks like something that my kids and husband would absolutely love. I’m less of a thrill seeker and would probably have my eyes squeezed shut the entire time. The other in my family would probably choose to make their seats tilt even steeper.

  • Reply September 26, 2014

    David Richoux

    My entire California marching band rode this back in 1999 (we were on tour to Canberra, Bathurst and Sydney) and the old cars were quite exciting!

    • Reply September 26, 2014

      Seana Smith

      I bet it was an exciting ride! That tour must have been such a laugh. You must get back some time. Any plans?

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