Over the past 150 years (or thereabouts) hundreds, maybe thousands, of books have been written about the Blue Mountains of NSW, Australia. Their location (50-100 km west of Sydney), their wild beauty (rugged sandstone outcrops, numerous waterfalls and cascades), their vegetation and their altitude (rising to more than 1100 metres ASL) have made the area a popular place to visit and live.
More books are being written even as I write this which shows the undying interest of the public in “all things Blue Mountains”. While the occasional copy of an out-of print book can be found in second hand shops, I know from experience how rarely this happens. Even then it is unlikely to be as much as 50 years old. However, there is a resource available to all where we can download (for free!) copies of some genuinely old books. I am referring, of course, to Trove, the online arm (eye might be better) of the National Library of Australia. You can go to the Trove site directly from this link here. You will soon discover that it is a very diverse collection indeed. If you are new to Trove, I suggest you spend some time exploring it. You will be amazed at what’s there for you to study and enjoy.
I’ve chosen to concentrate on collecting downloadable books, magazines etc which deal directly with the Blue Mountains, though I have built up quite a library of other material which interests me. Getting time to read this electronic library is another thing, however!
You will generally be able to get what you want as a .pdf file, something easily read, saved and passed on to others. Sometimes it will come as an html file, which can present a problem if you are trying to make your collection look neat. It won’t always be easy to find out exactly how to download the desired item, but you can’t do any harm to the original by trying.
Even if you select “available online”, that doesn’t mean you can download the file or even look at it. You may need to be a member of a particular library (which means having a password) or be able to see only a page at a time. That’s all part of the challenge, I guess.
Finally, you will locate lots of material you can’t download. Usually this means that it is still covered by copyright; in these cases you may be able to locate a library from which a hard copy can be borrowed.
The reference in question today is the 1908 printing of “The Mountaineer” Blue Mountains tourist guide book. You can experiment by locating it yourself or you can use this link which I’ve already found here. This takes you to an information page. Here there are a number of active links which lead you to another information page. One of these is the image of the cover of the book, which is the one I followed. This second information page also has an image of the cover; clicking on this takes you to a third information page. On the left margin is a series of buttons, one of which (a down arrow in a circle) brings up “download” when the cursor passes over it. Click on it, and yet another information page appears. It is preset on .pdf for me, if not, select it, followed (finally) by "download”.
What you do now is going to depend on what software you have, but I select “Save File”, which puts a copy of the document into my download folder. Later on, I can shift it to a permanent folder, adjusting the name to whatever suits me. If I select “Open” instead, a copy of the document opens on the screen (naturally). You can then save it to wherever you wish.
This blog is illustrated by pages from the book, which, incidentally, is physically very small and fits into the palm of your hand. I have a 1927 copy, passed on from my maternal grandmother. Most of the text is the same as the 1908 version, though many of the advertisements, maps and other information have been updated.