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  • Tracks - Katoomba Aerial Cableway Track

    Grading4Medium-Hard
    Track Type3Unmarked track.
    Track Condition4Poor sections.
    Exposure1No Exposure
    Navigation4Hard.
    Length4km
    Vertical400m

    The Aerial Cableway extended from near the bottom of what is now known as the Scenic Railway across the valley to the gap between the Ruined castle and Castle head. It was constructed in 1887 by the civil engineer Mr O. Schultz for the Katoomba Mining Compny owned by J.B.North mining. Its purpose was to transport oil bearing shale from the Runined Castle mines to the incline railway (scenic railway) so as to continue its journey to the Crushing plant and railway siding (Shell corner) in West Katoomba.[1]

    The cableway was originally installed for the Gladstone Colliery (Wentworth Falls) which went bust in 1887. The Engineer repossessed it as he apparently hadn't been fully paid for it.[2]  Unfortunately The cableway was short lived as a problem, possibly with a jammed bucket caused the southernmost tower to be wrenched from its position down into the valley. The company had little funds to repair it.[3] 

    There are many relics to note along the track. They are currently marked with tape. You will find...

    • a number of buckets in different states of decay.
    • brackets which held the buckets onto the cable
    • head gear from the towers, including guiding rollers which still spin!
    • the occassional remains of tower poles
    • the cable tensioning pit with weights
    • cable disengagement spike
    • electrical insulators for the electric wire messaging system[4]  (see "Buring Mists of Time" for a description)
    • and a number of other objects

    Access:

    • Federal Pass via Furber Steps
    • Federal Pass via Golden Stairs

    Map:   Katoomba & Jamison

    Track Notes:

    Access to the track is via the Furber Steps (from either Katoomba Falls cafe or Scenic World). At the bottom head west and over the Scenic Railway bottom station. Those interested in the history will observe a number of mine adits along the track. These connect to a vast network of mine tunnels under Katoomba (see the detailed map at the Katoomba Mine adit). Just after passing the Katoomba mine adit an old cable crosses the track. This is the start of the track which mostly follows the route of the cableway across to the old mining village site near the Ruined Castle. This track is steep in parts and slippery in wet weather.

    Navigation is simple as the track basically heads in a straight line and the cables can be seen for most of the trip. The detour around the cliffs on Causway creek is the only real deviation from the straight line. This detour uses a steep slippery gully on the right. The cable at the Ruined Castle end is rusted away and can't be followed. The track also peters out. Fortunately there are only about 50-100m left to climb up to Federal Pass. Turn right on Federal pass and exit via the Golden Stairs.

     

    Footnotes:

     

    1 Jim Smith, How to See the Blue Mountains, Second Back Row Press, 1994, pp52-3.
    2 Jim Smith, The Blue Mountains mystery track : Lindeman Pass, Three Sisters Productions, 1990.
    3 G.H. Eardly & E.M. Stephens, The Shale Railways of NSW, Australian Historical Society New South Wales Division, 2000
    4 Philip J. Pells & Philip j. Hammon, The Burning Mists of Time A Technical and Social History of Mining at Katoomba, Philsquare Publishing, 2009.
    Last updated : 12 Sep 2016
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    Plaque - Katoomba Mine Entrance
    Bucket running gear (bent) - Katoomba Ropeway
    Bucket running gear - Katoomba Ropeway
    Cable Coupling - Katoomba Ropeway
    Cable grooves - Katoomba ropeway
    Cable runners - Katoomba ropeway
    Cable snagged in tree - Katoomba ropeway
    De-railer - Katoomba Ropeway
    Logo on bucket - Katoomba Ropeway
    Ruins of miners house - Katoomba ropeway
    Searching for more artefacts - Katoomba ropeway
    Tensioning Pit - Katoomba Ropeway
    Tree through bucket running gear - Katoomba ropeway
    Pole bracket - Katoomba ropeway
    Pole bracing hole - Katoomba ropeway
    Aerial Cableway
    Bucket - Katoomba Ropeway