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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 7 (October 1, 1937.)

Katoomba-Leura — The Playground of the Commonwealth

page 30

The Playground of the Commonwealth

Most of us are in the happy position of being able to look forward to an annual holiday, and a large proportion of life's happiness lies in pleasurable anticipation. It frequently happens that when a particular holiday resort is recommended, the prospective tourist asks: “What shall I do and see when I get there?” This is a perfectly reasonable question, to which, after you have read this article, it is believed you will agree Katoomba has replied satisfactorily.

Situated on the heights of the far-famed Blue Mountains of New South Wales, 3,336 feet above sea level, the Queen City of the Hills has established its claim as the premier health and holiday resort of the Commonwealth. Realising its value as a source of revenue, the Department of Railways caters liberally for the tourist, and return tickets for the price of the single journey are issued on the excursion trains run at short intervals during the weekend. The train in which the Department justifiably takes pride is the Caves Express, sometimes known as the Blue Train. Hauled by a 36 class engine, weighing 159 tons in steam, there are six cars making the total weight of the train 311 tons. After passing Parramatta, the end of the main suburban line, she gets into flat open country, and stretching out like a greyhound extended, attains a maximum speed of 73 m.p.h. The train runs non-stop to Springwood, 49 miles west of Sydney, and in the last 10 miles of the run she climbs 1,218 feet, and pulls up in 67 minutes after leaving the city. The next 18 miles takes her up towards the clouds for another 2,118 feet, and with four stops, she flings the last stage behind in 46 minutes. It will thus be seen that the trip of 67 miles is done in less than two hours, and has earned for the Express the proud distinction of being one of the fastest mountain-climbing trains in the world. As I stood on a cutting recently, and watched the Blue Train approaching a crossing with a blast of her whistle, the words of that sweet Maoriland singer, Will Lawson, flashed across my mind. Listen to the first verse of “A Song of Size”:—

His engine weighed
ust eighty tons,
(Blow for the crossing—blow)
He swung his spade
On the long fast runs,
The smallest man
In the ‘firing line,’
Built on a plan
That was superfine.
He couldn&t have weighed
Scarce eight stone four
But, sonny, he made her furnace roar.
(Blow, you Big Bull, blow!)

One of the most important considerations for a successful holiday is accommodation. In Katoomba and Leura, there are over 100 guest houses, with tariffs to suit every purse; all the larger establishments have their own ball and billiard rooms, tennis courts, hot water service and everything that spells comfort. For those who prefer to get close to nature, the Council has
(Photo., M. B. Chisholm) A section of the Federal Pass which winds for three miles through magnificent scenery between Katoomba and Leurs Falls in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales.

(Photo., M. B. Chisholm)
A section of the Federal Pass which winds for three miles through magnificent scenery between Katoomba and Leurs Falls in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales.

spared no expense in providing a camping area for the motorist, with sites for 175 tents, an unlimited supply of water, electricity, sewerage and firewood, as well as laundry, kitchen and shower bath facilities, the charges for all these conveniences being negligible.

The whole district abounds with scenic gems, and while the Council has made no attempt to improve on nature, everything possible has been done to assist her by the construction of tracks and steps, making the beauty spots easily accessible. One of the major attractions is the Prince Henry Cliff Walk, which, although only opened for a comparatively brief period, has already given pleasure to thousands.

Commencing in the vicinity of the Orphan Rock, the walk skirts the cliff edge, but always far enough away for perfect safety, for a distance of seven miles, affording magnificent panoramic views every yard of the way, and terminating at Gordon Falls, Leura.

The first section ends at Echo Point, of world renown, where the view has been proclaimed by many as equal to anything to be found the whole world over.

The second section of the walk brings the visitor to the Meeting of the Waters and Leura Cascades, both things of beauty, while a little lower page 31
Where the train climbs to an altitude of 8,000 ft. on the run to Katoomba, Blue Mountains, New South Wales.

Where the train climbs to an altitude of 8,000 ft. on the run to Katoomba, Blue Mountains, New South Wales.

down will be found the Weeping Rock and Bridal Veil, where a tremendous volume of water leaps gaily in its mad rush towards the cliff edge. At Gordon Falls, the end of the walk, a full day may happily be spent; there are facilities for picnics, splendid parking area, with a playground for the little people. From the lookout at this point, when visibility is good, one has a clear view of the Gib at Bowral, a distance of eighty miles, giving one an idea of the clarity of the mountain air.

One could go on indefinitely describing the gems with which nature has so liberally endowed this area, and which have helped to make Katoomba famous. Mention may be permitted of the floodlights which are switched on at 7.30 each evening, and turn night into day at the Meeting of the Waters, Leura Cascades, Chelmsford Bridge, the Three Sisters, Katoomba Falls and Cascades and the Orphan Rock. By the rushing waters of the cascades and surrounding growth of ferns, the lights are subdued. As hot nights and mosquitoes are unknown, it is common to see picnic parties revelling in these surroundings in the summer evenings. For the rugged rock formation, the lights are more powerful, revealing in a weird manner the nooks and crannies of these strange rocks.

In addition to assisting nature in all directions the Council has enhanced the beauty of the area by tree planting and the provision of parks and gardens. Among the latter is Hinkler Park, known as the children's paradise. Here will be found every conceivable gadget calculated to delight the juvenile heart, and the small people literally swarm over the equipment installed for their amusement. The Kingsford Smith Memorial Park will, on completion, be a serious rival to Hinkler Park. With their green lawns, and well-kept gardens a blaze of colour for most months of the year, the parks so liberally scattered throughout the area are a source of delight to visitors and residents alike. An ambitious tree-planting scheme has been commenced, by which 5,000 trees are to be set out over 24 miles of roads over a period of two years.

The sportsman has been catered for in this up-to-date town, and the Municipal
(Photo., H. Phillps) Flying: Fox Gap, overlooking Jameson Valley, Katoomba, Blue Mountains, New South Wales.

(Photo., H. Phillps)
Flying: Fox Gap, overlooking Jameson Valley, Katoomba, Blue Mountains, New South Wales.

Golf Course is regarded as second to none in the State. Up to championship standard, with turfed greens and fairways, the course has been laid out over 18 holes in such a manner as to command magnificent views from tee and fairway. There is a modern clubhouse, fitted with hot and cold showers, where every golfing requisite may be purchased or hired, and the course is open to the public seven days a week, the fees being exceptionally moderate. The privately-owned bowling green is picturesquely situated within five minutes of the railway station, while adjoining the green are five Municipally controlled tennis courts, on which such stars as Crawford, McGrath, the Willards, and others have been seen in action. In addition to the Municipal Courts, the town abounds with private playing areas, while provision is also made for cricket and football, as well as two swimming pools.

Katoomba has every convenience of which a modern city boasts, and offers unrivalled facilities for the perfect holiday, where health and happiness go hand in hand. The Council is at all times anxious to encourage visitors, and a note to the Town Clerk will bring illustrated literature concerning this wonderland to any address in the world.

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