Their world-famous faces are some of the most photographed in Australia, so the Three Sisters had some competition on Thursday when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited Echo Point lookout in the Blue Mountains.
It was a case of thousands turning out to look at just two people looking at a view for a matter of moments, and, as the crowd remained almost reverentially quiet throughout – just a few whoops breaking the hushed murmur – it was the royals, as ever, who stole the limelight.
Still, the visitors appeared to notice the vista that others had temporarily forgotten.
“She loved it, of course. It’s a pretty stunning view. I showed her Mount Solitary and the Jamison Valley,” said Anthea Hammon, joint managing director at Scenic World, who guided the couple around the lookout.
“It was really nice to share our little pristine piece of the world with them. She said she’d love to come back – but, of course, she had to say that.”
Aboriginal tourist body representatives presented the couple with a possum cloak for Prince George and a kangaroo pelt for William and Catherine, as well as bookmarks decorated with aboriginal artwork.
Echo Point overlooks the Queen Elizabeth lookout, a spot commemorating her majesty’s 1954 Australian tour.
With a sea of well-wishers, bouquets aloft, hoping for a moment with the royals, it might have been time constraints that persuaded minders to approach five girls who were duly plucked from the 2000-strong crowd and planted in Kate and William’s path.
“I wondered what he was up to, first of all,” said Cliff Girdler from Katoomba, whose granddaughter, Ellie, was selected to meet the royals by a male minder. “I asked Ellie and off she went.”
Five-year-old Ellie Girdler, wearing all pink, had selected one her “going out dresses” for the occasion.
“It was really cool,” she said of meeting her royal highness. “I gave her honeycomb and said ‘That’s for Prince George.'”
“She sounded like she was from a different country. She sort of had a good hairstyle and her dress was nice.”
Sisters Alexandria, 12, and Sophia Witting, 9, from Sydney, were also chosen to meet the royals. Sophia gave them a rhyming poem she had written.
Pat Woods, 71, from Bathurst, chatted with Catherine after showing the Duchess her Highgrove souvenir bag.
“I was a bit overcome. She asked where I came from and said it was lovely to meet me. I was really delighted,” said Ms Woods, who had driven two and a half hours to see the royals.
“She was just what I thought she’d be – really nice and just an ordinary, nice, down to earth person.”
It was a well-timed royal visit that was heaped with more than simply local pride. In last year’s bush fires, 212 homes were destroyed and a further 100 homes damaged. The disaster cost the Blue Mountains $100 million and 518 jobs were lost.
The message from Katoomba on Thursday was as clear as the much-loved view: the Blue Mountains is very definitely open for business.