Mining ceased in the early part of the twentieth century and Katoomba continued to grow with its tourism and the magnificent sights of the Blue Mountains.
The Carrington Hotel has become a legend, with its high ceilings and old-world grandeur and guests including royalty and the famous from many walks of life. In recent years it has been re-furbished with more work being done.
Now it is one of a great many luxurious accommodation facilities from B&B's, Guest Houses, Boutique Hotels and Resorts.
Prior to 1880 Katoomba was little more than a scattered collection of dwellings - a village, huddled around one main road and a few bridle paths. However at the end of the 1870's things changed.
The first rail platform was opened in 1874 under the name 'Crushers', from the crushing plant put in by contractors to obtain metal for the Permanent Way.
In 1878 the name 'Katoomba' was adopted and John Britty North developed his coal mine below the cliffs at Orphan Rock and Katoomba was soon recognized as an important mining town.
Around this same time Sydney society were discovering the potential for health and recreation in the Blue Mountains.
In 1882 The Great Western Hotel was built (the name changed four years later to The Carrington) and Katoomba gradually transformed into a fashionable resort.
Katoomba - Main Street 1870
In 1889 Municipal status was granted in by the early 1890's through coal and tourism Katoomba was a town with a future. Appropriate public buildings were erected - a new brick Post Office in 1887, a timber railway station in 1891, and on Saturday 4th May 1895 the foundation stone for the new Court house was laid by Lieutenant Governor, Sir Frederick Darly. It opened for business on 19th February 1896 and was declared by the presiding magistrate to be "one of the most comfortable and elegant in the colony"
In the years just prior to World War I and the next ten or so after, Katoomba really blossomed as a tourist centre with many smaller guesthouses being built.
Echo Point is nowadays the most popular lookout, with its view across to the Three Sisters - a trio of rocky pinnacles. It was not always so, Orphan Rock had been the one acclaimed by the nineteenth century guidebooks and was one of the major Mountain sights commended to early visitors.
The Three Sisters started becoming the visual emblem and appeared on the front page of the Katoomba Council's Offficial Tourist Guide in 1912. The popularity of Echo Point and The Three Sisters was enhanced in the 1930's when the Giant Stairway and Projecting Platform were built.
Katoomba - early Echo Point
Throughout the Blue Mountains there are many examples of courage, determination and vision, with tracks laid down in situations most thought impossible. To name just a few - Furber's Steps at Katoomba, the National Pass at Wentworth Falls and the track to the bottom of Govett's Leap at Blackheath.
However...probably the best known is the Giant Stairway at Echo Point.
The original idea of a Giant Stairway linking Echo Point with the Federal Pass was conceived by James McKay in 1914. Initially scoffed at it was not until 1916 that approval for the project was granted. However, after the hazardous and difficult job of hacking the steps out of the cliff face had covered almost a quarter of the distance the project was judged too costly and brought to a halt.
It was only in the worsening depression of the early 1930's that Katoomba Council made a decision to re-commence the work and to construct a projecting platform lookout at Echo Point as well - all in the hope of developing tourism and attracting overseas income.
The official opening of the new attractions took place on 1st October 1932.
Katoomba - Town Clock
Katoomba - 1925
Katoomba - 1921
Katoomba - 'March to Bathurst'
Katoomba -Bank NSW 1924
Katoomba - Kingsford Smith Park
Katoomba -Sans Souci
Our gratitude for many of the photographs included on this page
The Blue Mountains Historical Societyis the oldest and largest society in the Blue Mountains and is a repository of Blue Mountains history since Cox's road in 1814. The Research Centre holds thousands of records, over 5000 historic photographs, maps and BDM records of NSW. This is a source for local historians, architects and the general public.
The Blue Mountains Historical Society also have an 1890's cottage, Tarella, which they maintain and open to the public several times a year.