Scenic World was established in 1945 by Harry Hammon and has subsequently been operated by three generations of the Hammon Family.
In 1945, Harry Hammon and his sister Isobel Fahey purchased the lease of the Katoomba Colliery Limited. The lease was from the estate of the original landholder John Britty North, who had opened up the coal and shale mines at Katoomba in the 1880s.
Katoomba Colliery had been operating the site’s mine since 1928 and had been supplementing the mine income for many years by carrying passengers on weekends and public holidays at sixpence a time in a specially built 14 passenger car named ‘The Mountain Devil’.
Harry and Isobel decided to operate the old incline railway solely to carry passengers. The car had, by that time, been improved to be electrically hauled and rebuilt to carry 28 passengers.
The site needed considerable upgrading. A souvenir shop and tea room were built and a considerable amount of cleaning up was carried out.
Over the years, many other improvements were undertaken. In 1958 the first cable car in Australia was built across the Katoomba Falls amphitheatre. In 1960 the first revolving restaurant in Australia was built and the Scenic Railway was expanded to carry 56 passengers in 1974, then again to 84 passengers in 1994.
In 2000 the Sceniscender, later re-named the Cableway, was built. The development incorporated 1.8 km of boardwalk through the previously inaccessible temperate rainforest in the Jamison valley.
Harry passed on in 2000.
Scenic World is now run by David Hammon and Anthea Hammon, grandchildren to Harry Hammon. David & Anthea run the company with a very hands on approach, working jointly as Managing Diretcors and as CFO and Chief Engineer respectively.
The Skyway was rebuilt in 2004 and now carries 76 passengers. It has the world’s only switching glass floor. The walkway has been extended to 2.8km and the Hammon family has re-purchased the lease to all food and beverages sold on site.
Scenic World holds a unique place in Australian tourism, having carried more than 17 million passengers since reliable records began in 1974, and also having the steepest incline passenger carrying railway in THE WORLD at 52 degrees or 128%.
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 received Tourism NSW’s award for an ‘Outstanding Contribution by an Individual’ to tourism.
More details about the origins of the railway can be found here.