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Friday, 2 December 2016


The Phillips Family
Of all the photographers who set up business in the Blue Mountains of NSW, none has left a legacy to compare with that of Harry Phillips.
He was born in Ballarat, Victoria, in 1873 and settled in Katoomba with his family in 1908. He had previously been a printer machinist with an interest in photography. He must have sensed that there was a great demand for postcards and view folders, because he quickly entered the field both as a photographer and printer.
Over the years he produced vast numbers of postcards and view books but making money was not the driving force behind him. He was an enthusiastic promoter of the Blue Mountains and a
Postcard - around 1910
search through the newspapers of the day will reveal his unrelenting pressure on the local council to attract more visitors and to look after them better.
Watch the slide show I have put together to illustrate his work. (here) These photographs show that Phillips wanted the most dramatic and stimulating views he could get . Some of these pictures reappeared in postcards and view books over and over again. I’m certain he would have replaced them with better ones if
Newspaper advertisement from 1923
he had been able to take them.
His 80+ known view books include places well beyond the Mountains, but the majority are of “home”.
When he died in 1944, apart from a simple newspaper notice in the Sydney Morning Herald classifieds (repeated in the local Katoomba paper) there were no verbose obituaries to honour him. We’ll excuse the residents of the Blue Mountains for this lapse on the grounds that there was a war on at the time.
To view or download copies of the three works available through Trove, firstly go to the website (here) and select the category “Books”. The three titles to use in the search box (one at a time, of course) are: Historic Blue Mountains, Blue Mountains Gems, and Jenolan Caves Phillips. When the work appears, you will find instructions on how to download a copy for your private reference.
There is also the book by Phillip Kay titled “The Far-Famed Blue Mountains of Harry Phillips” (1985). You can try Megalong Books of Leura (here) or Lamdha Books of Wentworth Falls (here) for a copy.

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