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The Village of Brasfort

Long before Europeans became aware of the continent of Australia existed, The Gundungurra and Darug people were living a nomadic lifestyle in the Blue Mountains. They lived off their Country, the spiritual core of their culture, which extended well beyond what is now the World Heritage Blue Mountains National Park. Without a written language, they passed their stories and culture down the generations through their elders. Gundungurra descendants now play an active part in the mountains community and its tourist industry. The Aboriginal flag flies proudly alongside the Australian flag above the Blue mountains city council and outside the hospital. The road to The Blue Mountains was built by William Cox, with a team of 30 convicts they completed the job in just six months. The road would run from Emu Plains to what is now the city of Bathurst. Cox was unaware he was founding the village of Wentworth Falls when he chose a site with a fine view for his second depot. His depot was clad with weatherboards that gave the place its name for six decades, starting with "The Weatherboard Hut" and eventually just Weatherboard. As Settlers and their herds journeyed across the Blue Mountains to the fertile western plains, Weatherboard became a natural stopping place. One of the most famous visitors to Weatherboard was Charles Darwin. In 1836 while on his historic round the world voyage, Darwin hired a guide and two horses to visit Bathurst. While their horses rested at the Weatherboard Inn, Darwin and his guide strolled along a track, now named Charles Darwin Walk, to see "a view exceedingly well worth visiting." Darwin, then aged 27 and destined to become one of history's most famous scientists, was intrigued by "the most stupendous cliffs I have ever seen." In the coaching days Weatherboard was merely a stopping place on the road to the western plains, with the arrival of the railway, Weatherboard became a destination - the place with that famous waterfall. Convicts had built the road, but free men, know as "the navvies," would build the railway. Hundreds of them worked through the 1860 & 70s to build a single line across the mountains and later to update and duplicate it. 

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The railway reached Wentworth Falls in July 1867. The famous falls at Weatherboard were now a day-trip from Sydney. On weekends Sydney people could escape the city, catching the train to "the great sanatorium of the colony" it offered an invigorating climate and fine scenery. Naturally people with means and an eye to the future wanted to buy some of that sanatorium. The government created a recreation reserve from what remained of its crown lands at Weatherboard and appointed its trustees, people who already owned large blocks there. With government funds to improve the reserve, the trustees soon appointed as ranger a self-effacing Irish immigrant, Peter Mulheran, who set about building the magnificent network of walking tracks and stone walled lookouts that tourists enjoy today. At first the Weatherboard Reserve trustees met in Sydney because thats where they lived and worked, though each owned considerable land around Wentworth Falls. Chairman of the trust was Sir Henry Parkes, other trust members were Walter D. Armstrong, a Lands Department draftsman, David Fletcher, a Sydney dentist, Benjamin Backhouse, a prominent Sydney architect and William Pritchard, a Sydney auctioneer and real estate agent. At their trustees meeting in Sydney on November 7th 1878, they discussed "the advisability of applying for a  site for a village" and that lead to the Brasfort years. The long forgotten village of Brasfort enjoyed an official existence of barely 15 years - from 1881 until 1896 when it was renamed Wentworth Falls. The grid pattern of its streets with the founders' names on their signposts are all thats left to bear witness. Even before land was set aside to create the village, Brasfort's demise appeared inevitable. In 1879 the railway platform's name was changed from Weatherboard to Wentworth Falls to honour William Charles Wentworth, one of three explores who found a path across the mountains in 1813. This not only acknowledged the magnificent waterfall, but distinguished the village from the town of Wentworth on the Darling river. At the same time, Wascoe's platform was changed to Blaxland and the Blue Mountains platform to Lawson in honour of the other two explorers. Brasfort was eventually proclaimed a village in the Government Gazette of March 20, 1885, along with proclamations of scores of towns and villages across the state. Four were in the Blue Mountains: Blackheath, Brasfort, Glenbrook and Katoomba. A special train was put on to carry bidders to Brasfort for its widely advertised first government land sale. The Brasfort years saw Wentworth falls grow not only as a popular spot for tourists, but as a favoured place for the wealthy to establish their country estates for relief from the summer heat and humidity of Sydney. By 1889 Wentworth Falls consisted of about 40 homes, with a population of about 150 people. The school was erected in 1887 and Peter Mulheran built a boarding house in Wilson street, called "Rockwall". Brasfort however, although it was proclaimed a village in 1885, was absorbed into Wentworth Falls in 1896. 

2002 Blue Mountains Historical Society

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