The Coo-ee March, 1915, “The biggest wash-up I ever heard of!”

Coo-ees march through Springwood “The Allies”, said the editor of the Blue Mountains Echo of 13 August 1915, “can make no further progress in the Dardanelles until reinforced with troops. Our own men there are calling for assistance.” One response to the desperate need for reinforcements originated in Gilgandra in October 1915 with 26 men, the brain wave of local plumber WT (Bill) Hitchen, captain of the Gilgandra Rifle Club and his brother Richard. The Coo-ee March was the first of many privately organised recruiting marches of the time, which gathered recruits as they progressed and became known as snowball … Continue reading The Coo-ee March, 1915, “The biggest wash-up I ever heard of!”

Catalina Park, Katoomba

CATALINA PARK, KATOOMBA AND THE PBY FLYING BOAT Many visitors and local people have fond memories of the flying boat at Catalina Park, a natural amphitheatre to the west of Katoomba. Although officially named Frank Walford Park, it has more recently been called by its earlier name The Gully. In the mid-1940’s this area of bush, swamps and springs was largely undeveloped and home to a small settlement of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. The land was owned by Horace (Horrie) Gates, owner of the Homesdale Guest House with its Wentworth Cabaret nightspot. In 1946, he felt that a new attraction … Continue reading Catalina Park, Katoomba

Kingsford Smith Memorial Park and Wadi Shaifa, Katoomba

The park sits in a natural gully amphitheater near Katoomba railway station bounded by Gang-Gang Street, Lurline Street and William Street. It covers portions 52 and 53 originally granted to James Henry Neal in 1877-78. 1930s tourist guide entry for Wadi Shaifa Wadi ShaifaUntil the park was acquired by Blue Mountains City Council in 1921, the area was known as Hudson’s Gully or Hudson’s Park, from the family who had owned most of the surrounding land. Their nearby home, Wadi Shaifa, still overlooks the park at 2 Lurline Street. Mary Davidson Hudson nee Talbot married Ernest A K Hudson in … Continue reading Kingsford Smith Memorial Park and Wadi Shaifa, Katoomba

The Giant Stairway, Echo Point, Katoomba

First StepsAt 540 metres in length, with 911 steps hewn from the cliff face and 32 steel staircases, the aptly named Giant Stairway drops almost 300 metres to the floor of the Jamieson Valley below the Three Sisters. At the official opening in 1932, the Newcastle Morning Herald saw it as a “triumph of nerve and skill”, while the Sydney Morning Herald concluded that “patience and courage have had their reward”. Such comments, made in relation to the official opening of both the Giant Stairway and the Projecting Platform at Echo Point on Saturday October 1, 1932, were among many … Continue reading The Giant Stairway, Echo Point, Katoomba

Coal and Shale Mining Near Katoomba

Introduction As early as 1841 Rev. W B Clarke noted the presence of coal in the Blue Mountains and in 1866 made the first systematic description of the deposits of oil shale in the Hartley area, where its existence had been known from as early as 1824. Early exploitation of resources Seams containing both coal and shale outcrops were noticed by the early settlers in the valley walls of the Blue Mountains and in the 1860s the imminent construction of the western railway encouraged considerable local exploration. The most extensive and successful oil shale operations took place in the Hartley … Continue reading Coal and Shale Mining Near Katoomba