Blackheath, New South Wales


Blackheath, New South Wales

Blackheath (elevation 1065 metres) is a small town located near the top of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia, 120 kilometres west of Sydney and 11 kilometres northwest of Katoomba. It has a population of between four and five thousand. Many residents are weekly residents of Sydney or Lithgow.

History

Prior to European settlement of Australia the region of Blackheath was home to the Aboriginal Gundungura people. Some descendants of these people still reside in the modern township of 4104 persons (2001 ABS Census Data).

Blackheath was named in 1815 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie after the colour 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 name is also sometimes taken as reference to the occurrence of bleak weather and the locals have also coined the phrases, "Bleak-Heath" and "Lack-heat". Whilst true to some extent, these names are somewhat of a misnomer as Blackheath enjoys a sunny, temperate climate. The area was originally named "Hounslow" by Governor Macquarie on his original trip through the area to Bathurst. He renamed it on his return journey.

The first building in Blackheath, the "Scotch Thistle Inn", was erected by Andrew Gardner in 1831. The inn was visited by Charles Darwin in 1836 [ [http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/d/darwin/charles/beagle/chapter19.html 1] ] . The extent of the original grant of land to Gardner can be seen today as the area bound by the Great Western Highway, Govetts Leap Road and (the misspelt) Gardiners Crescent.

Blackheath developed into a town after the railway line was built in 1869, the current station location being built in 1883. A large dam built to supply water for railway steam engines became the public baths when steam operations ceased upon electrification. Blackheath's original post office opened in 1910 and has now been converted into a gift shop and cafe.

Blackheath's sporting claim to fame is that Don Bradman hit a century off three overs for the Blackheath team in November 1931 at Blackheath Oval in a social match against Lithgow. He went on to make 256. Also the hugely popular Blackheath Black Cats Rugby League team play at the oval. The team has won many premierships and holds a strong supporter base among locals.

Local Attractions

provides an alternate vantage point for views into the same canyon system.

The area is known today for its colourful blooms in Spring and golden Autumn foliage as the weather begins to cool. In September, daffodils bloom and on the first weekend of November, Blackheath hosts an annual Rhododendron Festival.

The Campbell Rhododendron Gardens [http://www.bluemts.com.au/rhododendron/garden.htm] at the northern end of the town in Bachante St have 45 acres (18.5 hectares) of Rhododendrons and Azaleas planted underneath a native Australian Bush canopy. They are tended by the volunteers of The Blue Mountains Rhododendron Society of NSW, many of whom live in the town. The Gardens are a spectacular sight in the spring months of September through to November.

The ornamental cherry trees that line the streets are out in full bloom in the first week of October - they are one of the spectacles of the Blue Mountains.

Mount Boyce lookout is located just out of town towards Lithgow. The Megalong Valley, about 18 km away, can be accessed from Blackheath.

Geography & Climate

The area around Blackheath contains some of the most spectacular views in the Blue Mountains, including those over the Grose Valley from Evans Lookout and Govetts Leap in the east, and the lesser-known vista of the Megalong Valley from Hargraves Lookout in the west, past the tiny hamlet of Shipley. [http://www.smh.com.au/news/New-South-Wales/Blackheath/2005/02/17/1108500192770.html]

As the highest town in the Mountains, Blackheath occasionally receives snow in winter (two settled falls per season is the average) and even in summer the temperatures are generally mild in comparison to other locations at the same latitude. Average maximum temperature in winter is around 10°C to 11°C although some days struggle to get above 5°C or 6°C. In summer average maximum temperatures are around 23°C where thunderstorms occur reasonably often. [http://www.blackheathweather.com/]

Blackheath is also home to a collection of retreat centres including a Vipassana meditation center to the north of the town [http://www.bhumi.dhamma.org/] .

Blackheath is surrounded by National Park which is prone to bushfires. In November 2006 severe bushfires threatened Blackheath from the north. Consequently much of the National Park surrounding Blackheath is currently closed. [http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/parks.nsf/ParkContent/N0004?OpenDocument&ParkKey=N0004&Type=FIRESUMMARY]

See also

* [ [List of Blue Mountains articles]

References

External links

* [http://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/ Blue Mountains city council]
* [http://www.visitbluemountains.com.au Blue Mountains Tourism]
* [http://www.blackheath-nsw.com Blackheath Information Site]
* [http://www.bluemountainsonline.com.au/ Blue Mountains Online]
* [http://www.blackheathweather.com Blackheath Weather] - Local site regarding snow and general weather in the area.
* [http://maps.google.com/?ll=-33.631058,150.29108&spn=0.066105,0.134754&t=h Google Satellite Map of Blackheath]
*


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