Two hours by train from bustling Sydney life is the charming town of Katoomba, nestled in the stunning setting of the Blue Mountains. Led by a historian and expert of the area, we’ll touch on a number of themes relevant to this World Heritage listed-site on our Blue Mountains day trip. From Aboriginal pre-history and history and early settlement and mining history, these pertinent topics will be explored in depth. We’ll venture down to Echo Point to glimpse the Blue Mountains in their true splendor as we continue our discussion.
We’ll begin our time together near the railway station where we first discuss the development of Katoomba’s history. We’ll touch upon topics such as the establishment of a significant arts community and the conservation movement which was critical to the creation of National Parks in Australia during the Twentieth Century. We’ll also track the political life of the town as we discuss notable individuals, their roles and the myths that still endure today.
Our path will take us to a number of sites in the town where we may discuss topics such as heritage and architecture. The Carrington Hotel offers a chance to have a refreshing drink (if desired) and discuss the importance of said hotel in the evolution of Katoomba as a tourist and residential centre. As we walk through the traditional town, we may well discuss sites such as the Paragon Cafe, St Hilda’s Church and the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre. This is where we will see our first substantial view of the impressive mountain sight will take place. As we nip off down a lane decorated entirely in street art, we’ll have a first-hand example of how pop art and heritage meet in quaint Katoomba.
Aboriginal History and the Gully
Throughout our time together, there will be substantial discussion of Aboriginal pre-history and history which is so pertinent to the Australian narrative. Aboriginal people have lived in the Blue Mountains for over 20, 000 years and have used it as a transport network, a hunting ground, a home, a meeting place but probably most importantly it is considered to be sacred to the Aboriginal groups of the region. Many of the tracks that we now use today were originally developed by Aboriginal people; this will come into our discussion of the European settlement in the area. Our docent will tell the story of the pre-history and history of the Aboriginal people along with the arrival of the settlers and their subsequent impact on the daily life of the Aboriginal community.
The Gully, a communal Aboriginal area developed at the turn of the Twentieth Century area, gives us space to talk further about Aboriginal treatment by white settlers. The community was comprised of Gundungurra and Darug People but also Aboriginal people from other parts of NSW and poorer European people. For over 50 years, this group was an integral part of the Katoomba population and a place of sanctuary for the Aboriginal community. We’ll discuss the impact of the subsequent eviction of the area in 1957 and the replacement racing track in 1961.
Depending on how we are faring, we’ll head down to Echo Point either on foot or in a taxi. We’ll take in the many moods and ever changing light of these ancient mountains as we discuss their importance in the Aboriginal story. We may discuss why the vast expanse of land has been awarded world heritage as we gaze down at over 100 different types of eucalypts. Perched 500 metres above the floor of the valley, the view has looked very similar for 6 million years. We may well then cover some of the local bush walks as we discuss local historical, geological and environmental information regarding to the Australian bush predominantly and the Blue Mountains more specifically.
At the end of our time together we will have a more complete understanding of Katoomba and the Blue Mountains and its initial role in development of the colony and into the Twentieth Century. We will have immersed ourselves in the history of the region; gained a better understanding of Aboriginal history; learned about European settlement and its Aboriginal displacement effect; strolled through the streets of Victorian, Art Deco and other interwar period buildings; and breathed in the crisp mountain air at the edge of sheer cliffs.
Please note: Due to cultural sensitivities it is not appropriate for our docent to provide information about Aboriginal culture, this is a job for Aboriginal people. This tour subsequently cannot include any cultural information. Our docent will be able to talk about Aboriginal pre-history and history but we respect the privacy of Aboriginal cultural information.
Do we meet the guide in Sydney for this walk? No, you will meet your docent at Katoomba station. It is easily reached from the city.
Does this walk involve strenuous activity? Not particularly. We can choose to include more or less walking in accordance of client fitness. There are a couple of options of walking or taking taxis. There is also the option of walking through the bush if so desired.