Scenic Skyway, Katoomba – HIGHWAY IN THE SKY

By | October 11, 2017

With the removal of the 2nd Scenic Skyway, Katoomba on Monday 9th October 2017, we thought it would be a great time to look back at Skyway No.1.

Skyway No.1 was installed in 1958 at a cost of £20,000. According to the Reserve Bank that would be the equivalent of over $600,000 today. You have to admire Harry Hammon for taking such a huge financial gamble back in those days. Skyway No.3 will be installed for about $3,000,000.
Skyway No.1 remained in service for 46 years until 2004, while Skyway No.2 remained in service for only 13 years.

The photo below was taken in 1961.

Ask Roz Scenic Skyway

Australian Woman’s Weekly Article

Wednesday, 28th May 1958


Australia’s first cable Skyway for passengers runs about 1000ft. above the floor of the Jamieson Valley, N.S.W. Opened recently, after five months’ construction, it crosses the 1310ft. span from the site of the Scenic Railway to Cliff View Lookout.

FROM the cabin of the £20,000 Skyway tourists feel they are almost close enough to throw a stone on to Orphan Rock or the Three Sisters, or to feel the spray of Katoomba Falls. Away down below they can see the minute trail of the Federal Pass and the ant-like figures of the people walking along it.

The journey across from the Scenic Railway to the Lookout and back takes six minutes, plus a pause mid-air near the Lookout to allow the 28 passengers to admire the magnificent views and take photographs.

The Skyway cabin, weighing about 30cwt., is suspended from a double cable, and carries about two tons of passengers each trip. The cable, which is 1 5/8 inches in diameter, has a breaking strain of upwards of 150 tons.

Conductor of each trip, reassuring and explaining, is Mr. Joseph Gaut, who has worked in the area for 37 years, first as a miner, then operating the aerial coal trucks, and now as conductor on both the Railway and the Skyway.

Mr. Harry Hammond, director of Scenic Railways Pty. Ltd., which built the Skyway, explained that the cabin is constructed almost entirely of an extremely strong and light aluminium alloy.

He estimates that the landing platform on the eastern end at Cliff View Lookout, which is still under construction, will be completed in three or four months.

Then, if passengers wish, they can break their journey there, perhaps to walk to Echo Point, Reid’s Plateau, or another beauty spot, before the return trip.

Mr. Hammond, Katoomba born and bred, acquired the Scenic Railway just after the war. “And until the week before I bought it I’d never even had a ride in the thing,” he said.

Mr. Hammond, who also operates a transport business, was collecting a load of coal from the site on a public holiday just after the war. While he was there a busload of Americans arrived to ride in the railway and were very disappointed to find it not working.

“I figured that if a bunch of Americans were interested enough to come right up from Sydney, and charter a bus into the bargain, the railway must have something.

“A few days later I had my first ride, and then made an offer to buy it.”

CAPTION: This magnificent color picture shows the Skyway cabin clear of Orphan Rock. It was taken by staff photographer Ron Berg looking towards the south from the new Skyway lookout near the kiosk at Katoomba Falls. On the Skyway trip the cabin travels 1310 feet from the Scenic Railway to Cliff  View Lookout (in this picture from right to left), then back again.

Original Scenic Skyway, Katoomba


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