The Parkz Update: Orphan Rocker roller coaster crumbles at Katoomba's Scenic World
The ambitious Orphan Rocker project at Scenic World looks well and truly over as the ride's remains sits decaying past the point of no return, while the tourist destination's other attractions continue to evolve.
Image: Parkz. Many sections of Orphan Rocker's track have been removed and sit decaying outside Scenic World.
Orphan Rocker was probably too good to be true. A homegrown dream from the owners of the popular tourist destination in the Blue Mountains, work commenced on the roller coaster in 1983 and the dream was kept alive for decades as the Hammon family (owners of Scenic World) continued to maintain and work on the troubled project.
They might have bitten off more than they could chew – there's a reason only a small handful of companies around the world exist to design and construct roller coasters – and Orphan Rocker's demise seems self-evident. What remains of the ride on the rugged slopes are just fragments of rusting steel and reminders of a failed project amongst the thriving family owned business that features some of the most technologically advanced cable and rail attractions in the world.
There's always hope that Scenic World will one day engage with a modern manufacturer to build a roller coaster on this stunning terrain to resurrect the Orphan Rocker dream, though such an undertaking would be a complete replacement of what remains of this primitive roller coaster technology.
The latest activity on the Orphan Rocker looks grim. It's safe to say that Australia's longest running ride construction project will not ever operate in its originally intended form.
The lift hill is missing and a piece, and it's a safe bet it's not because they want to make it a shuttle coaster.
The section of track at the top of the lift hill which passed over the glass roof between the gift shop and Skyway station has been removed too.
The random bits of removed and decaying track are at several points along the course.
What was the first drop is now hard up against the new Scenic Railway station. Look Mum! No clearance envelope!
The section around the car park is now peeled and faded.
Further broken track at the lower part of the ride.
Maybe one day we will get to ride some sort of roller coaster down this rugged terrain.
This section of track has found use as a mounting for telecommunications equipment.
In 2013 the original Scenic Railway was upgraded with a new train and improved tracks.
Modern glass roofed stations are at either end of the ride.
The top loading station, with tiered queue rows and air gates.
The attraction started life as a conversion of an cable railway used to transport workers down to a coal mine. The tourist potential of the railway was soon identified.
The queue for the Scenic Railway has a few panels with facts about the area and the railway.
Scenic World is still operated by the Hammon family.
At 52 degrees, it is the steepest passenger railway in the world.
Inside the motor room. The train is hooked onto a cable and hauled up and down the track, rather than using a locomotive or a rack and pinion system.
A unique feature of the new train is benches that are adjustable in angle. Tilt the seat back for a more comfortable ride, or tilt them forwards to increase the feeling of lurching forwards as you travel down the hill.
Each row has a sliding switch to adjust the tilt of the seat. It is motorised like a luxury car seat.
Disappearing down the hillside.
It starts off quite steep....
....And then it gets steeper! And you see the track dipping even steeper out of view!
Finally things start to level off as you reach the bottom.
At the bottom the track levels off to a lesser angle, the side doors of the train open and you are free to exit.
Looking back up the track. At one point you pass through a tunnel.
At the bottom station of the railway this is the view you are treated to.
The original carriage that brave guests would ride down in.
This sign summarises the offerings of Scenic World... the Scenic Skyway, the Scenic Railway, the Scenic Cableway and the Scenic Walkways.
At the bottom of the Railway and Cableway are the Scenic Walkways, which pass the ruins of the old coal mining operations.
Modern retail facilities.
The main building contains boarding points for the three rides, plus eateries and retail.
The Scenic World Cafe. At the other end of the building is a revolving restaurant.
The steam is sourced from the parks natural gas fired boilers.
In 2014 Scenic World installed a steam powered clock, inspired by the one in Gastown in Vancouver, Canada.
Control panel for the Scenic Skyway.
The motor house is located on the other side of the road to the main scenic world building.
A bit of dead end Orphan Rocker track is literally orphaned behind the Scenic Skyway motor house.
A second station on the far side of the valley was added in 2004.
Departing the main station.
Looking up through the glass floor part of the gondola.
With current applied, the "smart glass" floor becomes opaque.
The Scenic Cableway is a really Thun ride. (Yeah, that wasn't very thunny...)
Inside the Scenic Cableway motor room.
Main pulley wheels running down into the motor room.
The rear of the gondola sporting its latest livery.
Expect some sway as you pass each tower.
Guide bars to ensure the large gondola doesn't experience any lateral movement when docking at the station.
Looking up from the base station towards Orphan Rock.
Looking back towards the bottom station.
Scenic World at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains (west of Sydney) is home to three attractions including Scenic Railway, Scenic Skyway and Scenic Cableway while the infamous Orphan Rocker never opened.