Bust and Boom: The Blue Mountains in the 1920s
The 1920s was a time of ‘bust and boom’ in the Blue Mountains. Mining had defined the landscape in the Blue Mountains soon after Lawson, Blaxland & Wentworth had first crossed the mountains in 1813. By the 1920s however the coal and kerosene shale mining that flourished since the late 1800s and paid for the railway over the Mountains began to decline sharply. The industrial revolution abroad meant that cheap kerosene from US oil fields caused the collapse of kerosene shale mining operations locally in the early 1900s and coal mining had all but ceased laying well and truly dormant by the early 1920s.
Along with the industrial revolution however came the motor car and with that tourists began to travel up to the Blue Mountains from Sydney to enjoy the natural splendour of the region. Tourists could now catch the train up to the Blue Mountains or drive up themselves, and with this Australia’s first tourist industry was born. Sydney-siders escaped the hustle and bustle of the city for health retreats and spas, like the Hydro Majestic Hotel, or just to enjoy the fresh mountain air and warm summer weather.
Soon the small miners cottages and small farms were replaced with some 270 plus holiday rental cottages and a wonderful range of guesthouses. Small shops were converted into thriving entertainment hubs, and the rise of the motion picture meant that cinemas such as The Avalon Theatre (now a restaurant) took over the landscape. Wealthy socialites built iconic art deco homes in the Mountains, such as Everglades House and Gardens, and put on lavish soirees’ in The Carrington Hotel and The California (now The Mountains Heritage Hotel).
The motor car revolutionised tourist activity, tourist coach firms flourished and souvenir crockery with images of The Three Sisters and Leura Cascades were most popular purchases. Visitors would spend the day touring now famous lookouts, such as Echo Point, or would travel along the iconic Six Foot Track to see the world famous Jenolan Caves.
The 1920s was certainly a high time in the Blue Mountains region and we invite you to live and re-create the past during the month of February 2015 at ‘The Roaring 20s…and all that Jazz!’ Festival. Bring back the chutzpah!