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Saturday, 22 February 2014


There are quite a few variations in the spelling of this attractive waterfall in North Katoomba. The one in the title is the correct one. 
The article below is from  the "Blue Mountain Echo" of Tuesday 15th May 1928, page 2 (courtesy of Trove).
The line from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Song of Hiawatha”, first published in 1845, reads as follows: “And he named her from the river, from the waterfall he named her, ‘Minnehaha, Laughing Water.’” If you would like to read the poem, which has a beautiful rhythm, you can download a copy here.         Now most of us would understand from that that the word Minnehaha means “laughing water”. Not so – in the Dakota language Minnehaha actually
Early twentieth century photograph
means “water waterfall”. No, I’m not repeating myself, there are two “waters” (the haha part I suppose).
Now why our Katoomba waterfall has this name I don’t know. It has been called that since at least 1895. The original waterfall and river are in the US state of Minnesota and are somewhat grander than ours, though for sheer beauty of surroundings the Blue Mountains version scores pretty well.
One last complication is the fact that the creek which goes over Minnehaha Falls (our version) is Yosemite Creek. Yosemite Valley is in the state of California, a long way from Minnesota.                                          

A major attraction of these falls is the plunge pool at the bottom. (A plunge pool is the term used for a pool gouged out in solid rock by a waterfall.) All the early guide books say it is “bottomless”, which simply means that no-one had succeeded in diving in and touching bottom. Whether they ever did or not I don’t know, but as the twentieth century rolled on and urban development increased in North Katoomba, the pool filled up with sand, which must have been a great disappointment for the people who liked to swim and dive in it. This state of affairs continued into the twenty first century and even the information board at the beginning of the track deplores this fact, though it holds out hope for a return to the former condition of the pool.
Well, it has happened! Just when I don’t know though I suspect it was a gradual process, greatly encouraged by the construction of sediment traps by the Blue Mountains City Council but particularly by violent thunderstorms during the summer of 2012/13. You can once more enjoy the best swimming hole in the Blue Mountains and appreciate the grandeur of the scenery at Minnehaha Falls.
My video of the walk is here. Two other videos (in which the pool is still heavily sanded) are here and here.
My Blue Mountains You Tube playlist is here . I have three other playlists - on gem hunting/mining, Glen Innes and New Zealand.

All New England and other Geology blogs and videos
Sundews seen along the Minnehaha Falls track

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