As I mentioned in my previous posts about travelling on the Indian Pacific, guests have multiple opportunities to get off the train for excursions. If you’re travelling on the Perth to Sydney or Adelaide to Sydney leg you can choose to go directly through to Sydney. Or you can take the more scenic route with a day trip into the Blue Mountains.
I’m sure you can guess I chose to visit the Blue Mountains. I mean why wouldn’t you? A few people I met on the train are from Sydney so they have the chance to go whenever they want. But if you’re not from around those parts then I highly recommend taking one of the extra excursions into the Blue Mountains.
Arriving at the Blue Mountains
If you opt to do the Blue Mountains excursion it helps to be an early riser as you’ll be getting off the train around 8:30am.
If you’re not so much a morning person you don’t need to worry. There’s a few announcements in the morning to ensure you’re ready. And if you’re really worried you can ask for a wake up call. Just don’t forget to allow enough time for breakfast.
The train arrives in the beautiful Mount Victoria station and this is where you bid the Indian Pacific farewell. Along with all your luggage which will be dropped in Sydney for you to pick up later.
From here you’ll meet your coach buses and guides for the day.
Getting to know the Blue Mountains
Once aboard the coach you’ll be given a mini tour of the Blue Mountain towns from Mount Victoria to Katoomba. There’s a lot of interesting history and some great scenery so be sure to take it all in.
My advice, there’s no need to worry about taking pictures from inside the bus. I tried this, but you have so many photo opportunities once you actually arrive at the mountains and get off the bus so there’s no need to have pictures that just have glass and glare in them.
It’s about a 30 minute drive to the first stop which is Scenic World. Once you arrive there the group will split up based on chosen excursions.
The Blue Mountains excursion options
You have two options of excursions at the Blue Mountains.
For those that are into thrilling rides and seeing the mountains from all different angles you’ve got Scenic World and Echo Point. And for those that prefer to get a bit more exercise and take things in at a slower pace you’ve got the Prince Henry Cliff Scenic Walk and Echo Point.
Whilst I’m sure the walk would’ve been stunning, I wasn’t really in the mood for too much exercise. So I chose the Scenic World option.
Why Scenic World?
Scenic World is a privately owned tourist attraction. And it’s home to Australia’s only glass-bottomed cable car and the steepest passenger-carrying railway in the world. It was a working mine until 1945 and now showcases the region’s history and significance of coal and shale mining. While also giving people a taste of how they would have lived back in the day.
There’s 4 different ways to experience the mountains.
You have the Scenic Skyway which will be your first taste of what’s on offer. A glass bottom cablecar suspended at 270m above the ground and has panoramic views of the mountains. This is the largest aerial cablecar in the Southern Hemisphere. And it provides amazing views of Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, and Jamison Valley stretching to the horizon.
The Scenic Skyway drops you at the main building and facilities. From there you can have a little wander and take in some more of the breathtaking scenery before heading with the group to the next ride.
Next up is the Scenic Railway. At a casual 52 degree incline (128% incline) this is the steepest railway line in the world. And you can definitely feel it while you’re on there.
Whilst it’s steep, the views are so breathtaking you kind of forget about what’s going on and just enjoy that.And it’s over so quickly you don’t really have time to panic.
Between the rides you can walk around the park and learn all about the history of the mines with interactive statues and old relics. The 2.4km trail takes you through the old mines and beautiful rainforest where if you’re lucky you’ll spot some lyre birds.
There’s a couple of different trail options available so depending how you feel you can opt for shorter or longer variations of the walk.
And once you’re done taking in all the beautiful rainforest scenery finish your day with the Scenic Cableway. A 545m journey allowing more panoramic views of different angles of the mountains. It’s a bit weird to adjust to riding backwards at first, but once you get used to that just relax and take in the incredible views.
The Cableway’s fully enclosed cabin is a unique vantage point for viewing the Three Sisters, Orphan Rock, Mt Solitary and Katoomba Falls.
Once you’re back on solid ground you’re time at Scenic World is done. And it’s time to meet the coaches back outside where you’ll now be taken to Echo Point. You have plenty of time to wander around and take in the views, and in my opinion this is where you’ll want your camera handy.
With epic views of the Three Sisters and miles and miles of mountain scenery there’s so much to capture. There’s a couple of different viewing points so you can see the mountains from all different angles.
Lunch at the Lookout
Once you’re satisfied with the views it’s time for lunch at the Lookout which is located right near Echo Point. This is also where the coaches will be waiting to collect you to take you back to the train.
Lunch is available for an hour and it’s already prepared so you don’t get a choice of what you want. When you walk in there’s drink selections for you to take whatever you like. Then someone will ask if you have any dietary requirements. And then you’ll be served whatever they’re serving for the day.
I’m not sure if it’s always the same but for us it was a slider, mini quiche, and salmon on mini toast. I’m not a fan of salmon so I only ate the slider and quiche. We had some vegetarians at the table and they were served a nice vegetable sandwich which looked really nice.
For dessert it was a brownie and lemon tart and some fruit for the vegetarians. Which slightly perplexed us because we’ve never seen meat in a brownie or tart lol. I guess after being on board the train we had gotten used to quite exceptional meal service. So going back to normal food service was a tough transition.
Getting to Sydney
And once lunch is done it’s time to head back to Sydney. The coaches are waiting outside to take you back to the train station, this time in Katoomba. From there you will board a privately chartered Sydney railway train.
Not quite the Indian Pacific, but just as good when you’ve got it all to yourselves. The guides even helped make us more comfortable by pulling up seats and telling us to put our feet up. They had some little snacks and refreshments for us. And before you know it, I was fast asleep.
All in all it was a wonderful day and if you’re doing this trip I highly recommend doing one of the Blue Mountains excursions.
REMEMBER, ALL EXCURSIONS ARE INCLUDED IN YOUR INDIAN PACIFIC TRAVEL BOOKING.
For more information on the Indian Pacific excursions go here: https://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/trains/the-indian-pacific/off-train-excursions
And for more details or to book your own journey with the Indian Pacific you can go right here: https://www.greatsouthernrail.com.au/trains/the-indian-pacific
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