The earliest inhabitants of the Springwood district were the Dharug people.
They populated the mountain area between north of the Grose Valley and east to the
Hawkesbury River and the Cumberland Plain. The area was rich in wildlife and would have
supported their needs more than adequately. Accurate population figures are not available
and although there are still Dharug people living in the Blue Mountains their numbers were
depleted with the coming of the white man, new diseases took their toll and their whole
way of life was destroyed. The Blue Mountains presented a formidable obstacle to the
British colonists who hoped that they would one day find vast areas of fertile plains on
the other side.
The first explorer to set foot in the area later called Springwood
was William Dawes, surveyor, astronomer and Lieutenant in the Marines. In 1789 Governor
Arthur Phillip sent Dawes with a small party to reach the Western mountains. They crossed
the Nepean at Emu ford, and keeping Round Hill (now Mount Hay) in view and ascending and
descending the gullies they pushed their way through the areas we now know as Mt
Riverview, Warrimoo and Valley Heights and reached Springwood on the Bee Farm Road ridge.
They came to within nine kilometres of Mount Hay before they had to turn back with
provisions running low.
When Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth were encouraged to attempt to
find a crossing over the Blue Mountains by Governor Lachlan Macquarie they determined to
stick to the ridges and were successful in reaching Mount York and finally getting a view
of the Western Plains. They, too, passed through the Springwood area, camping the second
night in Sun Valley and making a base camp at Springwood the next day while they spent
some days clearing a path through the scrub.
Macquarie sent Deputy-Surveyor Evans to check the
route and to extend the exploration westerly. He too camped at Springwood. William Cox was
given the task of building a road along the route with working gangs of convicts. Work
began in July, 1814 and was finished in January, 1815.
In May, 1815, Governor and Mrs Macquarie set out
with a large party on a twenty-one day trip over the Western Road. Once again Springwood
was one of the places selected to make a camp. In Macquarie Rd, Springwood, there is now a
monument to mark this camp site. Macquarie wrote in his diary:
'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. This stage is 12 miles from Emu Ford and our first on the
Mountains. This place being very pretty I have named it Spring Wood.'
A Military Barracks was built on this site to
protect travellers and to keep open communication with Bathurst. The Barracks was later
moved to the other side of the road. In 1845, when the Barracks was no longer needed, the
land and buildings were sold to Robert Martin who in turn sold to Thomas Boland, an Irish
Bounty immigrant who had come to Springwood as Superintendent of road gangs. He opened the
Springwood Inn which was also known as Boland's Inn. Another Inn was established at the
Valley (Valley Heights) by Alexander Frazer. It began as the Valley Inn and later became
the Woolpack, the Welcome Inn and Wyoming.
In 1867 the western railway was extended from
Penrith to Wentworth Falls and travel to the mountains became much easier. Springwood
began to grow. Frank Raymond built the Springwood Hotel in 1876, William Rayner opened a
General Store which stocked just about everything in 1878 and in the same year a Public
School was opened with Mr Charles F. Schowe, the first teacher. Limited post office
services had been available at the Springwood Hotel, but in 1879 postal business was
transacted at the Railway Station.
Springwood became a popular place for wealthy and
influential men from Sydney to have holiday homes, some of them quite palatial. Sir Henry
Parkes built "Faulconbridge", the Hon. James Norton "Euchora", the
Hon. John Frazer "Silva Plana", the Hon. John Meeks "Everton". In 1882
John Hoare and his wife Alice built what was probably the most lavish home -
"Homedale". This later was the first building of the Blue Mountains Grammar
School. All these properties needed gardeners, caretakers and other staff and the
Springwood population began to grow.
The area to the north of Springwood along Hawkesbury
Road was settled by orchardists and timber getters. The orchards grew a wide variety of
fruit - citrus, stone fruit, passionfruit, apples and persimmons. The site of the present
Springwood Golf Course was a very successful orchard owned by John Ellison. Timber getters
logged many of the large trees both for building and for railway sleepers.
Stone masons quarried local sandstone for building,
and bee keeping, dairying, poultry farming as well as the keeping of goats, sheep, and
cattle provided work and food for the tiny village. Sometimes the local livestock strayed
onto the Western Road or into the residents' gardens leading to a demand for a local
Mountain air was widely thought to be beneficial for
invalids so the district became a popular area to convalesce. Accommodation was needed and
Boarding Houses were established and holiday cottages built. One-day trips became popular
too and city visitors would stroll in the bush, patronise the Hotels and Rayner's Store
and return home on the train with great bunches of ferns, waratahs and other wildflowers.
Holiday makers. rail workers and travellers came and went, providing extra business for
||The local people were very community
minded and joined together to establish the type of town they wanted. Churches were of
prime importance and Christ Church of England was consecrated in 1889 while the Frazer
Memorial Presbyterian Church was opened in 1895. St Thomas Roman Catholic Church was
opened in 1892 and the first Methodist Church was built in 1923.
The Springwood Progress
Committee worked hard for an improved road and better rail and postal services, and often
voiced the need for a town hall and a resident doctor. Dr J. Boyce Mugliston, a member of
the Royal College of Surgeons (England) left Katoomba to live and work in Springwood in
1895. The town hall took a little longer - the Springwood School of Arts opened in 1913.
A Police Station was built in 1879 with John
lllingworth the first Constable. A new Post Office was opened early in 1901 and a
telephone exchange was installed there in 1912. Electricity was turned on in Faulconbridge
and Springwood in 1924 whilst town water arrived in 1936.
In the early days the people of the area made good
use of their leisure time - cricket and later tennis were popular and later still golf,
rifle shooting and football. It would seem that almost everyone had some sort of
performing ability. Concerts were grand affairs with singing, recitations, short skits,
dancing and a variety of instrumental presentations. Sports days were often arranged,
clubs and lodges were formed and money was raised for worthy causes. The Debating and
Dramatic Club discussed and debated such touchy subjects as "Republicanism versus the
Monarchy" , "Should women be given the vote?" and "Should women
With the coming of the train nicknamed "The
Fish" (so called because of the names of the driver and the fireman) which arrived in
Sydney at 9.16 am and returned to Springwood at 8.05 pm in 1880 it was possible for
business people to commute to the city to work. Increasing improvements to the line and
the establishment of the Valley Heights Locomotive Centre where assistant engines could be
provided, the trip became faster and even more convenient. The electrification of the line
in 1957 shortened travelling time even more and an increasing number of people found the
area a pleasant place to live. Corresponding improvements in the Western road, including
the diversion of the highway away from the residential area of Valley Heights and the
shopping centre of Springwood and its progressive widening made road travel easier. More
people had cars, land was cheaper than in Sydney and the Springwood district grew rapidly
as a residential area, convenient to the city but less expensive, with the added advantage
of a mild climate, fresh mountain air and lovely mountain scenery.
There are two State High Schools in the area now as well as a Roman Catholic High School
on the site of the historic St Columbas Seminary, but in the 19th and early 20th Centuries
a number of private schools were established including Hartlands for young Ladies (now a
private house called Hartfield), Springwood Ladies College in "Moorecourt",
Springwood College (for boys) in "Southall" and Blue Mountains Grammar in
The Blue Mountains has attracted
many gifted and creative people and the Springwood area has been home to a significant
number of artists. Norman Lindsay and his wife, Rose, bought "Maryville" in
Faulconbridge from Francis Foy in 1913 for £500 and he lived there (except for brief
spells in Sydney) until his death in 1969. George Finey, a talented black and white
artist, cartoonist and caricaturist, Wynn Davies and Ron Broadley, commercial artists, Jo
Booker, painter and black and white artist and John Dabron, artist, Director of Art,
N.S.W. Education Department and true eccentric all lived in Springwood. In the year 2000,
Springwood is a vibrant Mountain town with recreational, social, cultural, sporting and
educational facilities for everyone.
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