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Monday, 22 April 2019



Here is a link to the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage site where you can read about the history of the location. Bluff Lookout Glenbrook.
You are strongly recommended to consult a modern street directory and to consult a current guide book to the Blue Mountains.

This link will take you to a short video (by pincbit) taken at the Bluff Lookout Glenbrook .

Wednesday, 17 April 2019



1938 MAP AND WALKING TOURS ON THE BLUE MOUNTAINS BETWEEN BLAXLAND AND WENTWORTH FALLS. This publication by the NSW Railways Department has maps and information on numerous walks. This page is simply the section which introduces the map. You will need to use it when you want explanations about symbols etc. This folder belonged to Grandma Hayward.

You will find a lot of interesting things that modern books will not mention (and vice versa, of course.

Wentworth Falls April 1957
If anyone has a copy of the related folder dealing with areas higher up the Blue Mountains than Wentworth Falls would they please let me know.

Monday, 15 April 2019


Painting by G Richmond

Today when we hear or read about “The Voyage of the Beagle” we immediately think of the young Charles Darwin gathering material for his research into the theory of evolution. While it’s true that he made use of a lot of the information and specimens he collected on that voyage, the story of the Beagle, or at least Darwin’s part in it, is that of a young naturalist being given the opportunity to explore a world full of undiscovered and unexplained wonders.
The “Beagle” was on a world trip of scientific exploration (1831-36). In January 1836 the ship arrived in Sydney and Darwin (along with several others) made his only inland journey in Australia, across the Blue Mountains to Bathurst. Read his account in the pages below.

Reproduction of frontispiece by R. T. Pritchett from the first Murray illustrated edition, 1890. “HMS Beagle in the Straits of Magellan at Monte Sarmiento.” 

The Voyage of the Beagle
 is the title most commonly given to the book written by Charles Darwin and published in 1839 as his Journal and Remarks, bringing him considerable fame and respect. This was the third volume of “The Narrative of the Voyages of H.M. Ships Adventure and Beagle”, the other volumes of which were written or edited by the commanders of the ships. Journal and Remarks covers Darwin's part in the second survey expedition of the ship HMS Beagle. Due to the popularity of Darwin's account, the publisher reissued it later in 1839 as Darwin's Journal of Researches, and the revised second edition published in 1845 used this title. A republication of the book in 1905 introduced the title The Voyage of the "Beagle", by which it is now best known.

The pages below are from an 1845 printing, located by searching “Trove”.

One final word. The point where the Mudgee track left the Bathurst road is quite close to where I live. Mudgee St is still there. The map dates from 1842.

Thursday, 29 March 2018


This blog is intended to be read in association with my video on Wilson Park, which you will find here:
The story below appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 11th October 1930 on page 14.
Many changes over the years make finding the exact spot difficult (perhaps impossible). It must have been next to the Great Western Highway, between Jamison Creek and the Bowling Club.

The recently-named Wilson Park, Wentworth Falls, adjoins Jamieson Creek. It has been a public reserve for very many years, but was not gazetted as such for a considerable time. When the road over the Blue Mountains was constructed In Governor Macquarie’s time this site was used as a depot by the gangs at work on the road On previous occasions various relics of the past have been dug up here such as handcuffs and leg-irons
The men now carrying out improvements to the park have found several relics, including a warder's badge numbered 23, an old flint pistol, several percussion caps, and a military heel screw spur. They have also found a number of copper coins – pennies, half-pennies and farthings. The oldest coin was a big penny with a 1797 date. In addition they found an advertisement disc resembling a coin or medal bearing the slogan “Professor Holloway”, of ointment fame located in Sydney. Two pairs of scissors, a tablespoon a large padlock and a Jew's harp have been unearthed. A military button with an embossed crown was dug up and several bullets that had been cast in a rough mould."

NOTES. The 1797 penny referred to is the celebrated cartwheel penny, which must have remained in circulation until the 1860's. I have found one near our home in South Bowenfels, 40 or 50 km closer to Bathurst.
No Australian farthings were issued but UK specimens are not uncommon finds.
The Professor Holloway "disc" is what is called a "Token" in Australia. They circulated as pennies or halfpennies in times of coin shortages, during the gold rush years before being banned during the 1870's.
No doubt there would have been many black glass "ale" bottles found on the site as well.
Image result for professor holloway 1857 penny token  Image result for cartwheel penny australia

Friday, 6 October 2017


The word cyclorama comes from the theatre, where it refers to the backdrop at the back of a stage, in front of which the action takes place. Its use for this lookout no doubt refers to the extensive view around the horizon, with the Jamison Valley, Narrow Neck and Mt Solitary making up the “foreground”.
That’s what you would have seen had you gone there in 1936, when the Bathurst Road – Echo Point section of the new Cliff Drive was officially opened. Today the view is largely obstructed by trees and whatever appeal the lookout might once have had has now been lost. Few visit the place these days yet the tracks to it can be clearly seen from the road and are well signposted.
This has led to the preservation of the lookout more or less as it was when the work was completed in 1936, one of the few places in the Mountains where modernisation has not yet reached. Even the brass direction indicator remains intact. These were once plentiful but vandals and thieves have destroyed most of them.
I have been unable to find any older photographs of Cyclorama Point and even published references to it are few, apart from those referring to the new Cliff Drive and later listings of tourist attractions. 

The nearby Landslide Lookout is right on the edge of the cliff, immediately above the 1931 landslide. You can’t see the landslide from the lookout, however. It’s worth visiting both lookouts when you visit, but there’s only enough parking for a few cars on each side of Cliff Drive.
View my video on these lookouts here:
The newspaper extracts can easily be found in the digitised newspaper files in Trove here. The satellite image is from Google Earth. The landslide and lookout is on the left; Cyclorama Point is in the centre.

Saturday, 23 September 2017


The name “Melvin Vaniman” is hardly well known today, yet in 1903 the opposite was true.
I’ve been familiar with Vaniman’s Lookout at Katoomba for the past 60 years but until we came to live at Lithgow I assumed that Vaniman was a local dignitary or politician of some sort. The first inkling that this was not the case came when I read that he was an American photographer who visited the Blue Mountains in the early years of the 20th century.
Melvin Vaniman and Kiddo the Cat
He certainly was that, but perhaps “American adventurer” would be a better description. Here are a few lines from Wikipedia (here) used to describe him. “Chester Melvin Vaniman (1866 – 1912) was an American photographer, adventurer and businessman who specialized in panoramic images taken from height and was nicknamed the "Acrobatic Photographer." Other descriptions refer to him as a competent opera singer and a pioneer aviator.
Newspaper article about the Akron
It was in this latter role that his life ended in a fiery accident in which the hydrogen-filled airship “Akron” caught fire and crashed on July 2nd 1912. It had been intended to use the craft in an attempt to be the first to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.
Vaniman’s association with the Blue
Mountains occurred in November 1903. He was engaged in taking large photographs of interesting places around the world. When I say “large”, imagine a glass photographic plate “48 by 16 inches and embracing a panorama of over 190 degrees” (Mountaineer (Katoomba, NSW : 1894 - 1908), Friday 27 November 1903, page 3) according to Trove (reference here).
The article goes on to say “Some idea of the vastness of the panorama can be obtained when we explain that a picture was obtained of Katoomba Falls and the surroundings, which takes in the top Lookout, the Falls, the Three Sisters, the Broken Wall, Mount Solitary and round to the Orphan Rock.” I believe that this particular photograph was taken from what we now know as “Vaniman’s Lookout”, which had acquired this name by 1905. I have yet to find any other mention of such a photograph.
The photograph which the Mountaineer article was mostly interested in is the one shown below, taken from atop a pole 80 feet high near Gearin’s Hotel, which can be seen in the right foreground.
I read somewhere that a copy of this photograph had been purchased by the Katoomba Council and was to be displayed in a public building in the town. Where is it now?
Taken around 1940 by Wallace Green
The pictures illustrating this blog show the typical development of a mountain lookout. (Thank you to the photographers and the current owners of these). At first, the railings were made of locally cut poles. Later these were replaced by steel posts and chicken wire. More recently came the sturdy structures seen in the present day throughout the area. Presumably in the near future there will be more of the fencing currently seen around Katoomba Cascades – effective, but not as photogenic as the earlier fences were. Missing today is the bench on which to sit and marvel at the scenery.
Photograph taken in 1905

Photo by John Paix 2014
 See also my YouTube videos and Blogs:
The Round Walk Katoomba Falls Blog: here
The Round Walk: here
Lookouts at Katoomba (1) here