Over the past 72 years, local family-owned business Scenic World has evolved as a business focused on environmental preservation, partnerships and local investment.
Scenic World is Australia’s most visited privately owned tourist attraction, with over 1 million visitors a year. It runs the world’s steepest incline railway into the lush Jamison Valley, as well as the Skyway, Walkway and Cableway.
The business is accredited by Ecotourism Australia as a Green Travel Leader and regularly monitored by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. Scenic World also has a silver rating as a member of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute (BMWHI) Low Carbon Living Blue Mountains program.
Scenic World is serious about improving its energy efficiency and reducing its environmental impact. Electricity generated by the railway during its descent is fed back into the grid, offsetting the electricity used in its ascent. Lanolin instead of petroleum is used to grease the railway tracks and minimise friction. The current Skyway upgrade will increase capacity without additional energy use, while the Cableway will be upgraded next year to minimise peak energy usage.
Anthea Hammon is Scenic World’s joint managing director. She is also an engineer and the third generation of her family to run the business. “Scenic World offers the visitor an opportunity to experience an all-senses tour of this unique environment without damaging, eroding or degrading the surroundings,” she says.
In 2000, Scenic World constructed a walkway above the valley floor, replacing the old walking tracks that caused erosion. The walkway enables visitors to minimise their footprint but still connect with the environment and learn about the flora and fauna.
Through a partnership with BMWHI, Scenic World has lent its support to projects including the Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Program, an archaeological survey of the Bleichert Ropeway a mining village at Ruined Castle, and a World Heritage education program for staff and visitors.
The business has also considered its waste management and food miles. Scenic World uses solar-powered waste compactors to reduce rubbish overflow and collection frequency by up to 80%. Its restaurant and café uses BioPak to save 22 tonnes of CO2 annually. Restaurant and café visitors are offered compostable cutlery and crockery. Fair trade coffee is provided by local outfit The Little Coffee Company and Katoomba’s Whisk & Pin products are also available. Other local produce is sourced from Katoomba, while free-range eggs are supplied by a farm in Windsor.
The use of a Pulpmaster to manage organic waste was inspired by other local businesses such as the Escarpment Group. A cardboard baler is used onsite to compact waste, reducing costs associated with storage and disposal, and Scenic World has contracted a waste management company to redistribute 100 tonnes of organic waste each year.
There are water-efficient fixtures and timers in the bathrooms, and water waste management procedures in place in the kitchens. Lighting is 80% LED. Non-LEDs will be phased out as they expire.
Scenic World’s most recent low carbon initiative is a 100KW solar panel system to be installed by the end of this year. Over the longer term, the business expects to fully realise the benefits of its investments in energy reduction, waste management and renewables. Scenic World is minimising its carbon footprint, one step at a time, and doing so with pride.