The Gordon Falls Reserve is typical of many in the Blue Mountains which were once administered by local trusts. Although the reserve was proclaimed in 1884, development of the facilities and attractions did not commence until near the end of World War 1. Today, most of the reserve is under the control of the National Parks and Wildlife Service with the remainder administered by the Blue Mountains City Council.
The death of General Charles Gordon in a conflict in the Sudan in 1885 was one of those events in British history which touched the emotions of many ordinary people. He was a highly respected man with a concern for the welfare of the poor and oppressed. I doubt that he was comfortable with his appointment to the Sudan nor would he have approved of the slaughter which occurred later on when the British army recaptured the country.
Just why Gordon’s name came to be associated with the creek which runs through the reserve and the falls at its lower end is unclear but it appears to have been transferred from Gordon Road in the Leura Park Estate, which was being opened up around the time of General Gordon’s death.
The end of the war in 1918 saw the construction of memorials all over the country and the site chosen for Leura’s memorial was at the edge of Gordon Falls Reserve, with a new road appropriately called Lone Pine Avenue passing through the memorial gates and between the newly planted trees. The nearby parkland became known as Memorial Park, where the Leura Oval is today.
|The Memorial gates in 2009|
It was around this time that the track down to Lyrebird Dell was constructed. (I have always known it as Lyre Bird’s Dell, which I now know is incorrect). At the southern end of the reserve, tracks were also constructed to Gordon Falls Lookout (from which you can see both the upper and lower falls, neither particularly well), the Pool of Siloam and Fairy Glen.
The Pool of Siloam area in Jerusalem was the site of an archaeological dig in which Charles Gordon was involved. Fairy Glen is a name which has disappeared from modern maps. There is an old track leading off to the right at the bottom of the ladder on the Gordon Falls Lookout track. Overgrown now, it lead into Fairy Glen.
|On the path to Lyrebird Dell|
In the 1920’s the two minor waterfalls at Lyrebird Dell and the Pool of Siloam were linked by a track and today this is one of the Blue Mountains best short walks. See the Wild Walks track information here .
The picnic area at Gordon Falls provides toilets, shelter sheds, a children’s play area and access to all the walking tracks. I remember it from many childhood visits. It was a rather different place then, as the pages from “The Mountaineer Tourist Guide” from 1927 describes it. I don’t go back that far, but things were much the same in the 1940’s and 50’s.
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|From The Mountaineer Tourist Guide 1927|