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Dictionary of Sydney

Blue Mountains Townships
John Low and John Merriman

Prior occupation
Prior to the beginnings of European settlement the Upper Blue Mountains area was the country of the Gundungurra people who occupied territory to the south as far as Picton while the Lower Blue Mountains was the country of the inland Dharug people. The central Blue Mountains area is rich in art sites and low in occupation sites, a fact which has led the authority on Blue Mountains prehistory, Dr Eugene Stockton, to suggest that this area was a neutral meeting place for both tribal groups and perhaps others as well. [note: The exact nature of tribal group, language group, clan group, land owning group and land occupying group is not well defined for the Blue Mountains area. Detailed information on the exact nature and extent of territorial borders at the time of European settlement is not available. In fact there appears to be currently (2007) a large number of multiple and competing land claims over large areas of the Blue Mountains by several Local Aboriginal Land Councils both from within and outside the area.]

Locality on the Bell Range which divides the Grose and Colo river systems, alt. 1067m. A railway platform was opened here in 1875 with the name Mount Wilson. This was changed to Bell in 1889, in honour of Archibald Bell Jnr (1804-83) of Richmond Hill, who discovered a route over Mount Tomah to the Cox’s River in 1823. This alternative route across the Blue Mountains became known as Bell’s Line of Road. Sections of the Old Bell’s Line of Road date from 1871-72 and can be found around the Mount Tomah area.

Town on the Blue Mountains range located between Katoomba and Mount Victoria, 121km west of Sydney, alt. 1065m. The location of Blackheath was named by Governor Macquarie while returning from the west in 1815. On his way out he had given it the name Hounslow, after Hounslow Heath in England, but reconsidering, he wrote in his journal: ‘This place having a black wild appearance I have this day named it Black-Heath. ‘ In the early 1830s Andrew Gardiner opened The Scotch Thistle Inn and in the 1840s a convict stockade was established here. A railway platform was opened in 1869. Blackheath was proclaimed a village in 1885 and achieved municipal status in 1919.

Town on the Blue Mountains range located between Glenbrook and Warrimoo, 72km west of Sydney, alt. 234m.This area at the junction of the first three roads up the eastern escarpment was first referred to by the name of the inn, The Pilgrim, which was established here in the late 1820s. When a platform was built here on the arrival of the railway in 1867 it became known as Wascoe’s after the licensee of the inn, John Outrim Wascoe. The name of Blaxland was assigned in 1879, in memory of the explorer Gregory Blaxland who led the expedition which found a route across the Blue Mountains in 1813.

Town on the Blue Mountains range located between Wentworth Falls and Lawson, 98km west of Sydney, alt. 769m. Much of the land here was originally owned by Sir Henry Parkes who named the locality The Village of Colridge. In the 1920s Arthur Rickard & Co. opened a large subdivision here and gave it the name of Bullaburra, an Aboriginal (not local) word said to mean ‘blue sky’ or ‘fine weather’. The railway station opened with this name in 1925.

Echo Point
A point of land at Echo Park overlooking Jamison Valley and the Three Sisters, Katoomba. Also know as Echo Point Lookout, it was first recorded in the Katoomba Times 1892 and shown in the 1894 Railway Guide for Katoomba. Containing a complex of secondary lookouts including Queen Elizabeth Lookout named March 1954 following the Royal Visit; and Prince of Wales Lookout named following the Prince’s visit in 1901. Despite its name, the apparent lack of an echo has been commented on since the 1920s. The Echo Point Precinct incorporating the park and the older lookouts were recently redeveloped by Blue Mountains City Council at a cost of $8M and officially opened May 4 2002. One of Australia’s iconic tourist destinations, it sees over 1.4 million visitors per year.

Locality and cleared area of land about 3km south of Glenbrook Causeway. It consists of four camping and picnic areas: Appletree Flat, Daruk, Redgum and Nioka. Incorporated into the Blue Mountains National Park in 1964, it was officially named in 1975.

Town on the Blue Mountains Range between Springwood and Linden, 83km west of Sydney, alt. 446m. Sir Henry Parkes bought 600 acres of land here in 1876 and named his residence Faulconbridge, the maiden name of his mother. A railway platform with this name was built to service his needs in 1877. Parkes, his first wife and two of his sons are buried in the cemetery he established here. The home of author, artist and bohemian, Norman Lindsay (1879-1969) is now a Gallery and Museum dedicated to his work.

Town on the Blue Mountains range located between Lapstone and Blaxland, 67km west of Sydney, alt.163m. The origin of this name goes back to 1818 when Sir John Jamison, while exploring the Nepean and Warragamba Rivers, named a tributary Glen Brook (now Glenbrook Creek). When the railway was built across the Blue Mountains the location became known as Watertank, a stopping place for the steam engines to draw water from the nearby lagoon. When a crossing loop was established here in 1874 (for trains to pass on the single line) the name was changed to Wascoe’s Siding and later still, with the addition of a passenger platform in 1878, to Brookdale. The name Glenbrook was given in 1879 and the Village of Glenbrook was proclaimed in 1885.

Hawkesbury Heights
Locality on the Hawkesbury Ridge between Winmalee and Yarramundi. In 1982 some residents objected to the area being known as North Springwood and suggested it be named after Hawkesbury Road, the main access road. It was officially gazetted a locality with in the City of Blue Mountains in 1984.

Town on the Blue Mountains range located between Lawson and Woodford, 93km west of Sydney, alt. 674m. In the 1870s a private residence, Hazelbrook House (no longer in existence), was built by Edward Higgs on the south side of the railway line. When a railway station was opened opposite it in 1884 the name Hazelbrook was adopted. There is a popular view, unsubstantiated by other than oral evidence, that Hazelbrook House took its name from a ‘Hazel Brook ‘ flowing in the area that in turn got its name from ‘hazel-like trees ‘ growing nearby.

Jamison Valley
Jamison Valley is bounded by the Blue Mountains escarpment on the northern side, Ruined Castle Ridge on the western side, King’s Tableland on the eastern side and Kedumba Crossing on the southern side. Named by Governor Lachlan Macquarie (1762-1864) for his friend Sir John Jamison (1776-1844) on their journey to Bathurst 16 May 1815 on Cox’s newly constructed road over the Blue Mountains.

See separate article – John Merriman

An Aboriginal locality name for the junction of the Coxs and Kedumba rivers, named prior to 1859. The Kedumba River rises on the Blue Mountains range at Katoomba and flows through the Kedumba Valley which was within the country of the Gundungurra people.

Village on the Blue Mountains Range located between Emu Plains and Glenbrook, 64km west of Sydney, alt. 81m. The name Lapstone Hill was in use from at least the 1820s and derives from the shape of numerous water worn stones in the area which were once a part of the bed of the ancient Nepean River. To road workers and travellers they resembled the lap stones used by cobblers. In 1822 Mrs Elizabeth Hawkins, on her way to Bathurst, wrote: ‘We now began our ascent up the first Lapstone Hill, so called from all the stones being like a cobbler’s lapstone’. It was not until 1964, with the subdivision of Arthur Hand’s estate, that a railway station was established with the name Lapstone. The name was officially approved in 1973.

Town on the Blue Mountains Range located between Bullaburra and Hazelbrook, 96km west of Sydney, alt. 732m. This location appears in early references as The Swamp or Christmas Swamp and, in the 1830s, as Twenty Four Mile Hollow. Following the opening of Henry Wilson’s Blue Mountain Inn in the mid-1840s the area became popularly known as Blue Mountain, a name adopted by the railway when a station was opened here in 1867. The name of the town and its railway station was changed to Lawson in 1879 in honour of the explorer William Lawson. Known for its war memorials in Honour Avenue and the oldest surviving Mechanics Institute in the Blue Mountains. Gazetted as a suburb within the City of Blue Mountains in 2004.

See separate article – John Low

One of the smallest villages on the Blue Mountains Range located between Woodford and Faulconbridge, 87km west of Sydney, alt. 526m. This location was originally known as Seventeen Mile Hollow. A toll house and turnpike gates were erected here in 1849. The toll keeper, Thomas Ellison, acquired some 5 acres of land adjacent to the toll bar and built an inn here around1857. The toll house, gates and inn were all demolished during the railway works of the mid-1860s. In 1874 a railway platform was constructed here and took its name from the nearby Linden House, a private residence only recently erected by businessman William Henderson.

Medlow Bath
Village on the Blue Mountains Range located between Blackheath and Katoomba, 116km west of Sydney, alt.1050m. The location here of Brown’s Sawmill saw the first railway platform opened here in 1880 as Brown’s Siding, Pulpit Hill. This was changed to Medlow in 1883 to avoid confusion with another Brown’s Siding near Lithgow. The origin of the name Medlow is uncertain, the argument coming down to it being either a corruption of the Aboriginal word for Megalong or a borrowing of the name of a small town, Midloe meaning a hill, in the north of England. Medlow Gap is recorded near Narrow Neck at Katoomba on a survey plan in 1859. In any event, the name was changed again in 1903 when the addition of Bath was made to distinguish it from another Medlow in NSW and to mark the imminent opening of Mark Foy’s grand Hydropathic Bath. In the early 1900s Foy purchased three properties on the cliff edge, including the Belgravia Hotel, and incorporated them into the complex known still as the Hydro Majestic.

A valley bounded by the Blue Mountains escarpment from Narrow Neck to Blackheath and Shipley having Megalong Creek and Back Creek flowing through the valley floor. The name Megalong is of Aboriginal origin, said to mean roughly ‘valley under the rock ‘. The valley, first surveyed in 1838, was settled long before the railway crossed the Blue Mountains, the pioneers travelling up from the districts of Burragorang and Camden. In the 1880s, with the opening of the Six Foot Track from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves and the development of shale mining, the population at the Katoomba end of the valley increased and a small mining township grew up at the base of Nellie’s Glen. When the Megalong Valley Road opened in 1897 and mining operations began to peter out, the orientation of the valley community shifted to Blackheath.

Mount Irvine
Locality on a basalt cap eight km north-east of Mount Wilson, alt. 900m. It is claimed that those responsible for naming the mountain beyond Mount Wilson in the late 1860s mistakenly gave it this name in the belief that it was located within the parish of Irvine. It is actually in the parish of Bilpin. Another theory suggests that the name was given in honour of John Bowie Wilson, Minister for Lands at the time, who was born at Irvine in Ayrshire, Scotland, in 1820. Mount Irvine was not settled until 1897, when Charles Robert Scrivener, Basil Knight-Brown and Harold Morley each took up land there.

In 1904 the Anderson brothers established a sawmill using bullock teams to haul logs to the mill, other timber mills followed. Later settlers established apple and pear orchards, vegetable gardening and dairying. The public school was built in 1920 and opened with twelve pupils in 1921. The first teacher was Miss Stewart who lived at the school and gave piano lessons. The School closed due to lack of numbers in 1932 and became the public hall, it was burnt down in the 1957 bushfires and rebuilt in 1963.

Mount Riverview
Suburb located on a ridge line north of Glenbrook and north-east of Blaxland.
An early tourist map from 1908 shows Riverview Lookout near the present day Nichols Parade, this was the only feature in the area at the time and appears to be the first mention of the locality. When land in this area went up for public sale in 1920, one of the early purchasers was Bernard Francis Cummins who named his property Mount Riverview. In 1931 he erected a lookout in a tree on his property which he advertised as the Mount Riverview Lookout. For a small fee tourists could climb the ladder to the lookout platform and obtain an expansive view of the Nepean River and beyond. Near the lookout Cummins also ran a tearoom and an art gallery. All three, as well as his residence, were destroyed by bushfire in December 1944. In the early 1950s an attempt was made to establish a settlement for ex-servicemen promoted as the Mount Riverview Village. Further independent subdivisions followed. The name Mount Riverview was not officially gazetted, however, until April 1964.

Mount Tomah
Locality on the Bell’s Line of Road between Bilpin and Bell, 120km west of Sydney alt 1000m. Tomah is of Aboriginal origin meaning tree-fern. One of several basalt caps overlaying sandstone, including Mounts Wilson and Irvine, that have weathered to produce rich soils supporting a diverse flora. First explored by the botanist George Caley in 1804 and named Fern Tree Hill, the name was changed to Tomah by Archibald Bell Jnr during his 1823 discovery of an alternative route across the Blue Mountains. Assistant-Surveyor Robert Hoddle accompanied by Bell surveyed a new line of road in October 1823, to be called Bell’s Line of Road . They were followed in late November of that year by botanist and explorer Alan Cunningham who returned laden with botanical specimens.

The first grant of land was to Susannah Bowen in 1836 with further blocks being acquired by her son GMC Bowen in the 1840s and grandson GB Bowen, who operated a dairy and butter factory and bred Clydesdale horses, in the 1890s. Sawmills operated during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century utilising the rainforest coachwood and sassafras timbers. In 1927 the owner of a large area of land on the eastern side of the main road announced it would be cleared for subdivision. Concerned nature lovers lobbied the Premier to intervene, resulting in the formation of a public company to develop the area as a tourist attraction called The Jungle, complete with tea rooms, forest camping and walks through the ‘Temple of Nature’. This well meaning but overly ambitious scheme was declared bankrupt in 1934.

Twentieth century bushwalkers have continued to appreciate the natural beauties of Mount Tomah by exploring the deep water cut sandstone canyons of the area, abseiling down waterfalls and through almost subterranean rivers. In 1988 the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden, specialising in cool climate plantings was opened on part of Susannah Bowen’s original land grant.

Mount Victoria
Town on the western edge of the Blue Mountains Range between Blackheath and Hartley, 126km west of Sydney, alt.1044m. This name was given by Surveyor-General Thomas Mitchell to the mountain down which his Pass of Victoria was constructed in 1832. His surveyors also marked the highest point in the area which appeared on Mitchell’s map as One Tree Hill. In 1849 a toll bar was erected about a mile and a half to the east of Victoria Pass at a spot called Broughton’s Waterhole, a popular camping site for travellers and stock from the earliest days of the road. The toll bar cottage still exists. Though the railway platform erected in 1869 bore the name of Mount Victoria, the use of both One Tree Hill and Mount Victoria for the location caused confusion until the 1880s when official preference for the latter triumphed.

Mount Wilson (Ian Jack)

Locality on Shipley Plateau four km south of Blackheath; the plateau divides Megalong and Kanimbla valleys. Robert Smith Longton was the first European to visit the area `and to see the potential of the soil for fruit growing. He and his wife Emily took up land there in 1892. It was named by Edgar Chenhalls Scott Chapman (1855-1928), surveyor, after Robert Longton’s birthplace of Shipley near Bradford in Yorkshire, England. Shipley is famous for its orchards.

Town on the Blue Mountains Range located between Faulconbridge and Valley Heights, 78km west of Sydney, alt. 371m. This location was originally named Spring-Wood by Governor Lachlan Macquarie when he camped here on his outward journey over Cox’s new road in April 1815. He wrote in his journal: ‘We then halted at three o’clock in a very pretty wooded plain near a spring of very good fresh water, and pitched our tent near the side of the road. The place being very pretty I have named it Spring-Wood.‘ The original spring is located in Birdwood Gully. In 1816 a military depot was established near the site of this camp.

By the mid 1820s the name was recorded as Springwood. When the military presence was eventually withdrawn in the early 1840s, Thomas Boland built the Springwood Inn. During the period of the military stockade and Boland’s Inn, Springwood was a popular stopping place for travellers along the Western Road and, particularly during the gold rush which began in the early 1850s, became at times a huge encampment of tents etc. Following the construction of the railway, Springwood became popular with the wealthy citizens of Sydney as a place to build their country homes. The railway station opened 11 July 1867, public school opened 10 June 1878, post office opened 1 August 1880.

Sun Valley
Locality and small semi-rural community below the main Blue Mountains ridge line, formerly within Valley Heights. An area of rich volcanic soils within the surrounding Hawkesbury Sandstone, the valley has seen grazing, logging, farming and residential development. Originally the country of the inland Dharug people, it was probably visited by kangaroo hunters prior to its official recording in Gregory Blaxland’s exploration account of Tuesday 13 May 1813, ‘came to a good tract of forest land…rather hilly…the grass and timber tolerably good’. Known as Fitzgerald’s Valley in the 1830s, after Richard Fitzgerald whom Governor Macquarie had appointed Superintendent of the agricultural farm at Emu Plains in 1819; later The Valley and Deane’s Valley. The name Sun Valley was coined for the1960s residential subdivision.

Valley Heights
Village on the Blue Mountains Range located between Warrimoo and Springwood, 77km west of Sydney, alt. 322m. Alexander Fraser’s Valley Inn opened in 1832 on the Western Road, later known as The Woolpack and The Welcome Inn. With the arrival of the railway the inn closed and was sold to the Hon. Geoffrey Eagar MLA (1818-1891), who built nearby Wyoming as his country retreat. A railway platform was opened as Eagar’s Platform in 1875. This became The Valley in 1877 and Valley Heights in 1880. A steam locomotive depot operated here from 1913 until the electrification of the railway line in 1957. The locomotive depot became a rail heritage museum in 1988.

Village on he Blue Mountains Range located between Valley Heights and Blaxland, 74km west of Sydney, alt. 273m. In 1881 a small timber railway platform was built approximately 500 metres west of the present railway station. This was meant to serve a new Richardson & Wrench subdivision named Karabar Estate. By the end of 1897 lack of patronage led to the closure of the Karabar platform. When the railway line was duplicated in 1902 an emergency loop and signal box was placed at Karabar but later removed during regrading work in 1913. When Arthur Rickard & Co. subdivided this area the present railway station was built (1918) and took its name from the subdivision - Warrimoo, an Aboriginal word (not local) meaning ‘eagle ‘. The name may have been taken from the Australian Steam Ship Warrimoo, constructed 1892 which became a troop ship during WW1 and carried the 1st Maori contingent to Egypt in 1915.

Wentworth Falls
Town on the Blue Mountains Range located between Leura and Bullaburra, 103km from Sydney, alt. 867m. In May 1815 William Cox, while building a road over the Blue Mountains, erected a ‘weatherboard hut’ as a supply depot here. Subsequently, the locality became popularly known as The Weatherboard and that name was adopted by the inn which opened here in the mid-1820s, (though its official name appears to have been The Bathurst Traveller until at least the mid-1840s. A mounted police station was also located here from the early 1830s until 1855. A railway station was opened as Weatherboard in 1867 and, along with the township that gradually grew around it, was given the name of Wentworth Falls in 1879 in honour of William Charles Wentworth, the explorer.

Town on the Hawkesbury Ridge line about 3km NE of Springwood, alt.305m. This area was originally known as North Springwood until, in 1969, the Geographical Names Board made the decision to seek a new name. As the result of a community competition, won by Terry MacAuley, the name Winmalee was chosen and became official in 1972. The word is said to be of Aboriginal origin (not local) and to mean ‘in a northerly direction ‘.

Town on the Blue Mountains Range located between Linden and Hazelbrook 90km west of Sydney, alt. 607m. This location was first referred to as Twenty Mile Hollow. In the early 1830s an inn called The Woodman was opened. During the 1840s this inn became known as The King’s Arms and, when its last licensee William Buss took over in 1855, it was popularly referred to as Buss’s Inn. When the railway arrived in 1867 the first station also took the name of this popular publican. However, the inn was soon sold to Alfred Fairfax, a Sydney jeweller, who converted it into a private residence and renamed it Woodford House. The railway station was renamed Woodford in 1871. Woodford House eventually became the Woodford Academy, a private school for boys. It is now in the hands of the National Trust.

Yellow Rock
Locality on the eastern end of Singles Ridge about four km east of Winmalee. Named after the distinctive yellow sandstone located within the area, the Mountaineer newspaper lists Yellow Rock as one of the tourist features to be visited in the Springwood area in 1889. A lookout with views over Sydney was developed in 1926 by the Springwood Reserves Trust. This locality name was officially approved in 1971.



Fox, B. Blue Mountains Geographical Dictionary. Self published, Bathurst 2006.

Low, J. Origin of Blue Mountains Town Names viewed August 2006.

Low, J. Pictorial Memories Blue Mountains. Atrand, Crows Nest 1991.

Stockton, E. Blue Mountains Dreaming. Three Sisters Publication, Winmalee 1993.