Excited bumper crowd flocks to Echo Point

They came from far and wide, from Sydney in the east to Mudgee in the west, as well as all points up and down the Mountains.

More than 2000 people lined up behind the barricades on Echo Point Road at Katoomba, eager for a glimpse of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they made their way to the outlook from which millions have viewed the Three Sisters.

The crowd had been entertained as they waited by the Waratah Drumcorps and a couple of buskers. A sausage sizzle set up by a cafe on the footpath did a roaring trade.

As time wound down to the expected 1.15pm arrival, the crowd fell strangely silent, the only sound a news helicopter overhead. But when the Royal couple’s motorcade drove down the hill, there were cheers and hurrahs and the waving of hundreds of Australian flags, freely distributed earlier by the Australian Monarchist League.

William and Kate were welcomed at the lookout by Randall Walker, CEO of Blue Mountains Lithgow and Oberon Tourism (BMLOT), and Anthea Hammon, joint managing director of Scenic World. 

Ms Hammon, who accompanied them around the site, said afterwards: “It was really lovely to meet Kate. We had a little chat about George — she asked how big wombats really are, as the Governor General had given him a large stuffed toy wombat. 

“I pointed out Mt Solitary and Jamison Valley from the lookout. She said the view was beautiful — it was amazing how far you could see.” 

The couple also met Blue Mountains Accommodation and Tourism Association president Eric Sward, BMLOT chairman Councillor Daniel Myles, and Huong Nguyen from the Escarpment Group which owns Lilianfels and Echoes in Katoomba, Parklands in Blackheath and is undertaking the renovation of the Hydro Majestic in Medlow Bath.

They received possum skins from three Aboriginal Elders representing the indigenous landowners of Echo Point: Aunty Sharon Brown, of Gundungurra Tribal Council, Aunty Sharon Halls, of Gundungurra Aboriginal Heritage Association, and Chris Tobin, of Darug. 

And they met a young Wentworth Falls girl, Ainslie Zakis, 12, and her two cousins from Sydney, sisters Alexandra (12) and Sophia Witting (9), whose mother grew up in Katoomba.

The trio presented William and Kate with a posy of native flowers and handwritten poems.

“They asked what we were doing in the holidays and they said they were going to Taronga Zoo. They said Prince George would probably scare the animals away because he is so loud!” Ainslie said.

The last person Kate spoke to was Annabella Duncan, 4, from Orange, who handed her a small bunch of flowers. 

“She [the Duchess] asked if the flowers were from our garden and I said we picked them this morning but we’ve been waiting three hours in the sun so they are a bit droopy. She was lovely about it,” her mother, Angela, said. 

Mr Walker said the duke had been surprised to learn that Echo Point was the most visited natural location in regional Australia. 

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