A Death at Medlow Bath

It is the early hours of Saturday 1st December 1917, the overnight passenger train from the Central West township of Orange is steaming through the night on its way to Sydney. On board two men sit silently in a locked third class compartment. One man wearing civilian clothing lies back on the hard seat trying to sleep amid the constant rocking and the clattering wheels on the rails. On his wrists he wears a pair of steel handcuffs. The other man, his guard and escort, wears a khaki military uniform with a corporal’s single chevron, and also dozes fitfully. The … Continue reading A Death at Medlow Bath

“We polished everything” Osborne Ladies College, Blackheath

Most of us recall the story of Miss Appleyard and her College for Young Ladies depicted in the film “Picnic at Hanging Rock”. Located at Macedon in Victoria this story could just as easily have played itself out in the dramatic scenery of the Blue Mountains where, in the late 19th and first half of the 20th Centuries, many private-venture schools run by idiosyncratic, sometimes eccentric, educators were established. One such school was the Osborne Ladies College, which moved to Blackheath from the Sydney suburb of Epping in 1923. The college established itself in a large, three-storey building that had … Continue reading “We polished everything” Osborne Ladies College, Blackheath

A Church on Pulpit Hill, unlocking a Blue Mountains mystery

It has long been popularly held that a number of convicts who died while working on road gangs in the Blue Mountains were buried at Pulpit Hill, just west of Katoomba.  There are also folk traditions that free ‘pioneers’ were interred there.  However, when it comes to verifying these traditions, there are few accurate sources.  In the years after the Western Road to Bathurst was opened to traffic in 1815, Pulpit Hill became a recognised resting place for travellers and stock. In the 1830s there appears to have been a stockade in the vicinity and, in 1835, the ‘Shepherd & … Continue reading A Church on Pulpit Hill, unlocking a Blue Mountains mystery

J. W. Berghofer and Berghofer Pass, Mount Victoria

During the 19th Century German-Australians constituted the largest non-British immigrant group in the colonies: over 4% in 1861. By comparison the Chinese, as the second-largest, came to 3.28%; the Italians as the third-largest made up only 0.21%, and the total migrant population of 48 other ethnic communities amounted to only 3.25%. Organised large-scale immigration started with the arrival in 1838 of groups of Lutheran farming communities from the eastern provinces of Prussia. Many were experienced vineyard workers and were welcomed in South Australia where they established communities in the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa Valley, a small number even went … Continue reading J. W. Berghofer and Berghofer Pass, Mount Victoria

BLACK & BLUE: ‘Jacky’ Brooks, an Indigenous Hero of Blue Mountains Rugby League

I’ve heard the roar at a football match as it rose in the crowded stands, When a winger leapt and took a pass with magic, out-stretched hands, And the double roar as he came inside and flashed across the line, That was a roar that stirred my soul, a roar that was a sign.[1] Setting the Scene. By 1920 Katoomba was on the cusp of its most prosperous years, about to become the ‘Queen City of the Hills’ and one of NSW’s premier resorts. The town had long outgrown its 1870s origins in coal and shale and mining the cliffs … Continue reading BLACK & BLUE: ‘Jacky’ Brooks, an Indigenous Hero of Blue Mountains Rugby League

Blue Mountains District ANZAC Memorial Hospital

Hospital History The Blue Mountains District Anzac Memorial Hospital is a rare war memorial in the Blue Mountains designed as a functional building. The style is typical of the interwar style used for war memorials throughout the country. One of the earliest mentions of a hospital for the Blue Mountains was in 1895, at the laying of the memorial stone at the Katoomba Court House. Sir Frederick Darley, Lieutenant Governor and owner of ‘Lilianfels’ at Echo Point, who performed the ceremony, commented that “the next building he would like to see erected in Katoomba would be a cottage hospital, and … Continue reading Blue Mountains District ANZAC Memorial Hospital

Searching for Echoes in the Blue Mountains

Echo Point is probably the most visited attraction in the Blue Mountains yet few people have ever heard an actual echo from this location. There are in fact a number of Blue Mountains locations named for and associated with echoes. The traditional method to test for an echo was to shout Coo-ee and wait. An Echo is a reflection of sound that arrives at the listener with a delay after the direct sound. The delay is proportional to the distance of the reflecting surface from the source and the listener. Typical examples are the echo produced by the bottom of a well, by … Continue reading Searching for Echoes in the Blue Mountains

Walking Through History Springwood Town Centre

Springwood: Historical context The area now known as Springwood was originally occupied by the Aurang-ora band of the inland Dharug people. Crossing the Blue Mountains On Tuesday, May 11, 1813, Mr. Gregory Blaxland, Mr. William Went worth, and Lieutenant Lawson, attended by four servants, with five dogs, and four horses laden with provisions, ammunition, and other necessaries, left Mr. Blaxland’s farm at the South Creek, for the purpose of endeavouring to effect a passage over the Blue Mountains.  On 13th May the explorers reached the vicinity of Springwood, “After travelling about a mile on the third day, in a west … Continue reading Walking Through History Springwood Town Centre

Dr John Spark, (1853-1910) Katoomba’s First Doctor

John Spark was born at Twickenham, Middlesex on August 8th, 1853, where his father held an extensive medical practice. John was the eldest son of a family of eight born to John and Emma née Pool, and with his sister Fanny, were the only survivors of childhood. At the age of 14, he lost his father, and was trained for the medical profession by his father’s friends. He showed aptitude, and at the age of 18 was dispensing for a doctor with a large city practice. Dr John Spark, Lic. Soc. Apoth. Lond. 1875, M.R.C.S. Eng. 1875, trained at St … Continue reading Dr John Spark, (1853-1910) Katoomba’s First Doctor

Elsa Lowry, nee Garrett (1914-1991)

Elsa Ernestine Lilias Garrett was born in Waverley in 1914, the daughter of Ernest Gordon Garrett (1890-1959) and Lillian, nee Penrose (1888-1965). In the 1920s the family moved to the Blue Mountains where Ernest took up a position as accountant and company secretary at the Katoomba – Leura gas works. Ernest spent all his leisure time, fishing rod in hand, on the local streams and at meetings of the Blue Mountains Rod Fishers Society, which was actively involved in local trout stocking programs. In 1939 Ernest and his future son-in-law William Lowry were elected office holders in the Katoomba and … Continue reading Elsa Lowry, nee Garrett (1914-1991)