Celebrating 70 years in 2015, the Hammon Family established Scenic World in 1945, when Harry Hammon and his sister Isobel Fahey bought the lease of the Katoomba Colliery Limited. The lease was previously held by the estate of the original landholder John Britty North, who had opened up the coal and shale mines at Katoomba in the 1880s.
Operating as a working mine since 1928, for many years Katoomba Colliery had supplemented its income by carrying passengers on weekends and public holidays. For a sixpence a time, visitors could travel the incline in a purpose built 14-passenger car named ‘The Mountain Devil’.
Upon purchasing the lease, Harry and Isobel decided to operate the old incline railway solely as a passenger vehicle. By that time, the car been rebuilt to carry 28 passengers and was electrically hauled.
To cater for this new clientele, the former Colliery site needed considerable improvement. A souvenir shop and tea room were constructed and extensive clean-up works completed.
Subsequent decades saw many other significant improvements. In 1958 the Scenic Skyway – Australia’s first cable car – was constructed, traversing the Katoomba Falls amphitheatre. 1960 saw Scenic World open the first revolving restaurant in Australia and in 1974 the Scenic Railway expanded to carry 56 passengers, then again to 84 passengers in 1994.
In 2000 the Sceniscender, later re-named the Scenic Cableway, was built. This phase of development included the construction the Scenic Walkway – 1.8 kilometres of elevated boardwalk through previously inaccessible temperate rainforest in the Jamison Valley.
Harry passed on in 2000.
The Scenic Skyway was rebuilt in 2004 to carry 76 passengers. It boasts the world’s only electrostatic glass floor, turning from opaque to transparent as it travels 270 metres above the Jamison Valley floor. The Scenic Walkway was extended to 2.4 kilometres and the Hammon family has re-purchased the lease to all dining options on the premises.
2011 saw Phil Hammon retire, handing over to the third generation of Hammon Family. David Hammon and Anthea Hammon, grandchildren to Harry Hammon, now work together as co-Managing Directors, and Chief Financial Officer and Chief Engineer respectively, bringing a very hands-on approach to daily operations.
Scenic World holds a unique place in Australian tourism and is the county’s most visited, privately owned tourist attraction. The Scenic Railway is the steepest incline passenger carrying railway in the world at 52 degrees or 128%, and has carried over 27.5 million passengers in it’s 70 year history.
The company has won numerous awards over the years, including a Telstra Business Award and a Third Generation Family Business award from Family Business Australia. Scenic World has been certified as an Advanced Ecotourism company by Eco Tourism Australia. In 2009, Phil Hammon received Tourism NSW’s award for an ‘Outstanding Contribution by an Individual’ to tourism.