Westward, Ho! The Lower Blue Mountains

Emu Plains | Lapstone | Glenbrook | BlaxlandLennox Bridge | Warrimoo
Valley HeightsSpringwood | Faulconbridge

Emu Plains – at the foot of the mountains

Emu Plains from 'Lucasville' NRS16407-1-1[6]_[Opp-p36]
Emu Plains is a town 58 km west of Sydney, located on the western bank of the Nepean River and at the foot of the Blue Mountains. As the name suggests, the area was named after the many emus that once lived there. William Cox started building the Great Western Road from here in 1814.

A government convict farm operated at Emu Plains from 1819-32 and the village began as a stopover for travellers. For many years the district was an important pastoral and orchard centre for Sydney.

In 1877 the public school opened and then in 1883 the Main Western Railway Line arrived.
Nepean River Regatta, Emu Plains 1880s. Digital ID 4481_a026_000814 Emu Plains Railway Station, c1950. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000767 Main Western Road, Emu Plains - near Walkers Crescent, n.d. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014001359 Opening Western Highway, 1928. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014001360
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Lapstone is 3km south west of Emu Plains. The area was first referred to as Lapstone Hill in the 1820s. The name Lapstone may be a reference to the many smooth stones found in the area that resemble a cobbler’s lapstone. Land was reserved at Lapstone Hill for the resting of cattle travelling to and from Bathurst. Although the Lapstone Zig Zag (or “little” zig zag) was opened in 1867 a railway station was not built until 1964 and then a public school opened in 1971.
Bottom Points Lapstone (little Zig Zag) Rail Road c1870. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000723 View of the Knapsack Viaduct, Lapstone, n.d. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000724 Bottom Points Lapstone (little Zig Zag) Rail Road c1870. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000721 Knapsack signal box, Lapstone c1903. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000722
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Glenbrook is 67km west of Sydney between Lapstone and Blaxland. The site was originally known as Watertank after a stop on the original “little” zig zag” railway where the trains would stop to take on water from the Glenbrook Lagoon.
Glenbrook railway cutting, n.d. Digital ID 12932-a012-a012X2448000091

Sir John Jamison, whilst exploring the area around the Nepean and Warragamba Rivers named a tributary Glen Brook (now Glenbrook Creek). About 1870 the name was changed to Wascoe’s Siding (this refers to a railway stopping point of Wascoe, which is located in Blaxland) and then in 1879 to Glenbrook when the railway station opened.

Glenbrook Public School opened in 1892.
Glenbrook Railway Station, c1900. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000729 Glenbrook deviation - cutting in the new trackwork, c1912. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000727 Glenbrook deviation - showing power house and workshops, c1912. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000725 View of Nepean River from Glenbrook, n.d. Digital ID 12932_a012_a012X2445000005 Class 5703 locomotive going through the Glenbrook tunnel on a trial run, 30 Oct 1929. Digital ID a014-a014000909 Glenbrook Railway Station, 31 Aug 1959. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000732
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Blaxland is a town 6.5km west of Emu Plains, at the junction of the first three roads leading up the eastern escarpment, Cox’s Road, Mitchells Road and Old Bathurst Road. The village was originally known as Wascoe, after John Outrim Wascoe, the publican of the Pilgrim Inn (the first roadside inn to be built in the Blue Mountains in about 1826 by Barnett Levey) which he operated in the 1850s-60s.

The railway arrived in 1867 and in 1914 the name was changed to honour Gregory Blaxland.

A provisional school opened in Blaxland’s Flat in 1885 and in Blaxland’s Ridge in 1892.
Pilgrim Inn, Blaxland, no date. The building was destroyed in the bushfires of 1968.  Digital ID 17420_a014_a014001373 Land for sale at Blaxland, 1960. NRS 9149 [10/217] Poster in volume
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Lennox Bridge

Lennox Bridge, in Mitchells Pass, is the oldest surviving stone arch bridge on the Australian mainland. The bridge was designed and built by David Lennox in the early 1830s to span a gully in the ascent from Emu Plains on the eastern side of the foothills.
Lennox Bridge, 1870. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014001361
The road and bridge continued to be the main ascent route from 1836 to 1926 when the new highway was constructed. Nowadays the road is one-way down to Emu Plains and is a favourite route for cyclists.
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Warrimoo is a town on the Blue Mountains Range, 7km west north west of Emu Plains. The name may have been taken from the Aboriginal word meaning eagle. Although an earlier railway station did operate, Warrimoo Station opened in 1918 to coincide with the subdivision of the area.

Warrimoo Provisional School opened in 1942 and became Warrimoo South Public School in 1962.
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Valley Heights

Valley Heights is a small town located between Warrimoo and Springwood. As early as 1832 Alexander Fraser ran the ‘Valley Inn’. In 1875 the railway station opened as Eagers Platform, named after local landowner, Geoffrey Eager. Eagers Platform became The Valley in 1877 and then Valley Heights in 1880.
Valley Heights Railway Station c1878 - level crossing and gatehouse. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000733Valley Heights Railway Station - gatehouse c1878. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000734
Valley Heights Station c1910. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000735Class AD6002 Garratt locomotive taking water at Valley Heights. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000240
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Springwood is 78km west of Sydney and was named Spring-Wood by Governor Macquarie on his trip to Bathurst in 1815. In the following year a military outpost was established near this site which operated until 1845. It was a popular stopover for travellers, especially during the gold rush in the 1850s.

In 1867 the railway arrived and a station was built in the following year. The station was replaced by a Victorian Gothic style building in 1884. Many wealthy families from Sydney built country retreats in Springwood.

Springwood Public School opened in 1878.

Derailment at Springwood, 20 May 1923. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000987
Springwood Railway Station 11 Feb 1953. Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000737
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Faulconbridge is 2.5km west of Springwood. In 1876 Sir Henry Parkes bought 600 acres for his country retreat and named it Faulconbridge after his mother. A railway station was built for Parkes’ convenience in the following year and the town took its name from Parkes’ house.
Sketch of Sir Henry Parkes' mountain residence, Faulconbridge. From The Railway Guide. NRS16407-1-1[1]_p37 Description of Faulconbridge (and surrounding towns). From The Railway Guide. NRS16407-1-1[1]_p38
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NRS 16410 Blue Mountains Shire brochure

Brian Fox, Blue Mountains Geographical Dictionary, Brian Fox, 2006

Geographic Names Board of NSW: http://www.gnb.nsw.gov.au/name_search

Brian and Barbara Kennedy, Sydney and Suburbs: A history and description, Reed Publishing, 1982

John Low, Pictorial Memories Blue Mountains, Kingsclear Books, 1991

Research by

Suzanne Upton, Archivist Public Access