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Sunday, 17 November 2013


The Leura Cascades area is accessible from either Katoomba or Leura by the Cliff Drive. It came to prominence when the Katoomba swimming baths were constructed in 1913, but the area was already the focus for a number of popular walking tracks, notably those leading to the Federal Pass and the two Leura falls (commonly called the Bridal Veil (upper falls) and Leura Falls (lower). The legacy from those times is a great network of tracks providing lots of different routes commencing at the cascades picnic area (see the blog entry on this dated 5th October 2013).

Two significant events which have left their mark on the area were the decision to bring the Leura-Katoomba sewer pipes down into the Jamison Valley via this route and the floodlighting of the Cascades in 1932.

I have found it difficult to piece together the history of sewerage schemes in the upper Blue Mountains, but it would appear that Katoomba at least had a system operating by 1910. (Cast iron pipes alongside the Katoomba Falls valley walks are dated 1909.) A similar system probably operated via the Leura Falls Gap; both seem to have operated on a septic tank/filter bed system with the semi-purified effluent then being discharged into the creek. 

Newspaper reports show that the Leura Creek route was being considered for major augmentation in the following decade. The sewage treatment plant which eventuated was finally opened in 1935, only being replaced a few years ago by the deep drainage tunnel which takes sewage from the upper Blue Mountains by gravity down to the treatment works at Winmalee. See the “Sydney Morning Herald” (NSW: 1842 -
From the SMH November 18 1935
1954), Monday 18 November 1935, page 8 (via “Trove”).

The Leura/Katoomba floodlighting was part of the major improvements to tourist facilities carried out during the Great Depression, which was vital in keeping people employed in those difficult times. The complete article about the opening makes good
From the SMH December 5 1932
reading. See the “Sydney Morning Herald” (NSW: 1842 - 1954),  Monday 5 December 1932, page 9 (via “Trove”).

The floodlit Cascades August 1968
Just when the Leura Cascades lost its floodlights I don’t know, but the remains of posts and wires may still be seen beside the track. As you make your way from the picnic area down to the Bridal Veil Falls, you won’t notice these things because of the beauty of your surroundings. The removal of the sewer lines and the floodlights has brought the area closer to what it once must have been.
This Wild Walks link includes a good map of the area (here) .                                                           
For my video of the walk, click here . My Blue Mountains You Tube playlist may be found here. I have three other playlists - on gem hunting/mining, Glen Innes and New Zealand.
See the 2013 photo of the same location at the top of this page
From an album of Harry Phillips photos presented to Frederick John Spellacy dated 12 April 1935.
As an Alderman on Katoomba Municipal Council and local bus operator, John Spellacy was instrumental in the floodlighting of the Three Sisters and Leura Cascades, officially opened December 3, 1932.

Photo and information from Blue Mountains Local Studies.

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