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Blue Mountains Tourist : Autumn 2011
Experience the thrill of walking on air! Designed for maximum impact, the Scenic Skyway is a world first with its Electro-Sceniglass floor. Nowhere else in the world can you experience this thrill. Take a 330 metre journey over 200 metres above ancient ravines and dazzling waterfalls as you glide smoothly across the sky. At the flip of a switch, breathtaking views directly below are revealed through the cabin floor---on which you can stand! Ride the world's steepest incline railway! With an incline of 52°, this "Mountain Devil" travels down the world's steepest railway. This exciting and historic ride is suitable for people of all ages. Taking up to 84 passengers every 10 minutes into the valley, the railway was built originally to haul coal and shale out of the valley from the mines at the base of the escarpment. The mines closed and the facility became a tourist attraction in 1945. www.scenicworld.com.au While holidaying in Sydney in 1900, Lady Audrey Tennyson, wife of the South Australian Governor, travelled over the Blue Mountains to visit Jenolan Caves. In a long letter written to her mother on her return to Adelaide, she recounted her experiences. Describing the return journey to Katoomba, where she and her husband spent the night at the Carrington Hotel, she remarked on a phenomenon that has impressed and puzzled many visitors to the Mountains: "The afternoon & evening were most beautiful and most wonderful lights and shadows. What struck us more than anything was the wonderfully brilliant blue of the distant hills. I have never seen anything to compare to it at all, the most gorgeous real sapphire blue, really transparent blue -- it is impossible to give any idea of it. We wondered whether it was the effect of the gums, and our driver told us it used to be thought so but is an exploded idea, and he agreed with me it must be something in the atmosphere. I shall never forget it." What causes this blueness, the depth and intensity of which is often quite remarkable? In 1955 the Town Clerk of the City of Blue Mountains asked this question of the Department of Physics at the University of Sydney. Professor Harry Messel, replied: "The haze which appears to surround any distant object is due to an optical phenomenon called 'Rayleigh scattering'. This effect, first investigated theoretically by Lord Rayleigh, causes the rays of light which impinge on small particles to be scattered in various directions... Since the atmosphere is always laden with small dust particles, water droplets and the like and since even the air molecules themselves contributed to some extent to the scattering... if an observer looks at a distant object with the intervening atmosphere illuminated by sunlight, eyes will receive the blue scattered rays of sunlight to reflect the object itself. Therefore any distant object will always appear to display some shade of blue." from "Pictorial Memories Blue Mountains", 1994 by John Low (Editor's note: Despite what Lady Tennyson's driver claimed, the effect in the Blue Mountains is enhanced by millions of oil droplets released into the atmosphere by the huge numbers of eucalyptus trees.) Why are the Blue Mountains blue? www.bluemountainstouristnewspaper.com.au autumn 2011 14