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Blackheath

Blackheath

 

Blackheath is located near the highest point (1065 metres) of the Blue Mountains, between Katoomba and Mount Victoria, about 120 km west northwest of Sydney CBD. With its lovely misty days when the clouds sit low over the mountains, Blackheath is reminiscent of a beautiful Scottish village.

 

History

 

The region was thought to be a summer corroboree meeting place for several Indigenous peoples of the Darug, Gundungurra and Wiradjuri nations. Following European settlement of Australia, the area was named Hounslow. After crossing the Blue Mountains in 1815 and returning from Bathurst, Governor Lachlan Macquarie renamed the settlement as “Black-Heath”, in reference to the colour and texture of the native shrubbery in the area. Macquarie recorded in his journal: “This place having a black wild appearance I have this day named it Black-Heath.

The first building in Blackheath, the “Scotch Thistle Inn“, was erected by Andrew Gardner in 1831 and Charles Darwin visited the inn in 1836. It was located slightly south of the present Gardners Inn Hotel. The original staircase from “The Scotch Thistle” has been preserved and can be found in Gardners Hotel. The land originally granted to Gardner was the area bounded by the Great Western Highway, Govetts Leap Road and the misspelt Gardiners Crescent.

Blackheath developed into a town after the Main Western railway line was built in 1869. The current train station was completed in 1883. Blackheath’s original post office opened in 1910 and has now been converted into a gift shop and cafe.

 

Blackheath Village

 

The town’s shopping centre has a relaxed atmosphere. Of particular interest is the former Victory Theatre which is now transformed into a spectacular antique centre. The outside of the Victory Theatre displays a colourful mural designed by artist Jenny Kee and painted in 1985 by members of the local community on behalf of the Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre.

Mural outside Victory Theatre designed by artist Jenny Kee

Picture 2 of 7

 

A large dam built to supply water for railway steam engines became the public baths well before steam operations ceased upon electrification. The baths opened for public swimming in 1931 and since then have been redeveloped to include swimming pools, children’s play facilities and surrounding park lands.

Blackheath Pool

Blackheath Pool

 

Blackheath Views and Bushwalks

 

The area around Blackheath contains some of the most dramatic gorge and canyon landscapes in the Blue Mountains. It offers spectacular views over the Grose Valley from Govetts Leap and Evans Lookout in the east. On the western side of Blackheath, past the tiny hamlet of Shipley, are the lesser-known lookouts – Hargraves Lookout and Mount Blackheath Lookout with extensive views over the Megalong and Kanimbla Valleys. A trip down into the Grose Valley will lead you to Edenderry and Hilary Falls. You can start the Grand Canyon Walk from Neates Glen along Evans Lookout Road and visit Beauchamp Falls. Turn into Walls Cave Road off Evans Lookout Road and you will discover Aboriginal history with Walls Cave which is believed to have been occupied around 12,000 years ago.

 

Annual and seasonal highlights

 

Blackheath is known for its colourful blooms in Spring, with daffodils blooming in September. The ornamental cherry trees that line the streets are usually in full bloom in the first week of October and are considered one of the spectacles of the Blue Mountains. However, it is most famous for its annual “Rhododendron Festival” held on the first weekend of November each year. The festival weekend includes some unusual activities such as the Chainsaw Competition. However the Rhododendrons are the major draw card as they are absolutely amazing.

Blackheath hosts many many events throughout the year. On the 2nd weekend in April, when Blackheath is filled with avenues of the most beautiful Autumn colours, the Blackheath Wine Fair is held, featuring cool climate wines, gourmet foods and music. The Blackheath Art Society’s Members Exhibition is held during Easter.

Blackheath shows spectacular golden foliage as the weather begins to cool in Autumn. As the highest town in the Blue Mountains, Blackheath often has snow in winter – usually only 1 -2 falls during the winter season.

 

References

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