Hold that marriage proposal – there's a new contender for most romantic place in Australia to pop the question. But it requires planning – and an amenability to heights.
Scenic World at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains grew around the 19th century Scenic Railway and since 2000 has included The Scenic Cableway, taking up to 84 passengers 270 metres in the air to travel 545 metres across the majestic Jamison Valley.
When a new Swiss-made cabin was installed in 2018, it came with a built-in idea-in-the-making. Anthea Hammon, the CEO of operator Hammon Holdings had harboured the idea to get people up on top of the cable car for some years. Now was the opportunity. "We asked the manufacturer, 'Can you make sure that the structure of the roof is strong enough that we can put people on it continuously? Not just a maintenance crew up there once a month but five or six people every day?'"
The answer was yes and Hammon's dream of the Beyond Skyway experience was born.
Now, when the Scenic Cableway closes for the day, Beyond Skyway begins. Four guests, accompanied by the rooftop crew, climb through a hatch out on to the roof of the cabin and ride on top of the car like James Bond in Moonraker. Once out, with no glass or fences to restrict the 360-degree view, the ride across the valley is immersive and on a clear day, takes in majestic Katoomba Falls, the Three Sisters, Mount Solitary and many other landmarks in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park. Even if it's not clear, Hammon promises it is dramatic. (And if it's too inclement, reschedules are offered.)
There's a rooftop picnic rug and custom wooden seating with the offer of a Beyond Skyway Signature Mocktail or a mug of hot chocolate, whichever way the weather dictates.
Like the company's BridgeClimb over Sydney Harbour, participants are fitted with full-body harnesses with a strict height safety system in place. But thrill seekers can hang their feet over the edge or even lean out across the valley floor.
As for those proposals, Hammon, who is a qualified engineer, says a lot of thought has gone into ensuring precious diamonds don't go over the edge into the valley, never to be seen again.
"We have a little secret method to secure rings when going up onto the top so that we can make sure they stay very safe and that whoever is doing the proposing can get the ring on the finger."
A maximum of 16 people can experience Beyond Skyway each evening. From $349 a person. See scenicworld.com.au/beyond-skyway