Saturday, 28 June 2014

Warrimoo/Karabar in 1900

Derring-do bicycling at the turn of the century. With 'auto mobiles' still way out of reach for the majority of the population, bicycling was the most common form of sightseeing excursion.
By 1900  ‘Karabar’ was still a fairly nondescript place. ‘Warrimoo Historians’ have found little evidence of settled activity in the area around the Platform, except for the work of Tom and Mary Smiley.

In his worthy booklet entitled Sun Valley and Long Angle Gully—A History, Bruce Cameron[1] reveals that ‘…Indications would suggest there was activity in Long Angle Gully and Sun Valley from around the late 1800’s…’ He was referring to loggers who may have been felling timber from the beautiful ‘Mountain Blue Gum’ (Eucalyptus Deanei),’Cabbage Gum’ (Eucalyptus Amplifolia) and ‘Turpentine’ (Syncarpia Glomulifaria) in the vicinity north and east of the railway.
Timber-getters at rest. Evidence of such work is still about at Warrimoo and Long Angle Gully: gigantic old stumps, tracks and mill equipment can still be found, if you look hard enough.
There is much evidence of logging still around Warrimoo, Long Angle Gully and Sun Valley, and there may have been some lots of the Karabar Estate that were cleared at this time, if only to provide wood/fuel for cooking and heating, or to provide timber for buildings or poles.

There were probably at least a few weekender cabins erected on the Karabar blocks, and of course, the railway and western (Bathurst) road always provided a central focus. The “Cyclists Guide to the Roads of New South Wales (1898)” provides a picture of what it was like…

After passing Blaxland Station the road is level, passing through railway gates (there was a level crossing opposite ‘Michelangelo’s Restaurant’ before the present bridge was built) and rising gradually. A long and fairly steep hill with a steep descent to railway gates at Karabar (near the intersection with The Avenue). The road becomes loose and sandy after crossing the line, still downhill, up a fairly long hill (toward Torwood Road), then level for about half a mile, again passing through railway gates (where the subway and Gatekeeper’s cottage are at Greens Parade) and then fairly level through about 200 yards of heavy sand. The surface now improves and again the road passes through railway gates at Valley Heights (where the road bridge crosses the rail line near the present signal box).[2]

Unescorted women bicycling into the 'Mountains was still a rare sight in 1900--but the suffragette movement was asserting womens' independence at this time, and if they did travel through 'Karabar', they would have used the 'Cyclists' Guide'
The bicycle guide mentions no shops, stopovers or dwellings near the road at Karabar. The area remained predominantly bushland with limited clearance and seemingly no noticeable population.

At the turn of the century, ‘Warrimoo’ was a place waiting to happen.

[1] CAMERON  B., Sun Valley and Long Angle Gully—A History, Springwood, 1998, p21
[2] LUPTON, Maisie et al, Warrimoo Public School, The First Twenty-Five Years, magazine published by Warrimoo Public School Anniversary Committee, 1987, pp 12-13

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