Tuesday, 14 February 2023

The Life of Lorraine Bewley


Lorraine Bewley Biography (1927-2017)*


Early Life

 Lorraine Bewley was born 'Lorraine Heggie' on the 16th July 1927, first daughter of Charles and Amy Heggie, and elder sister to Beryl, who arrived 3 years later. 

Lorraine Heggie as toddler

In the early 1920's Lorraine's father worked intermittently on a property in Wallerawang, so he rode his horse from Punchbowl (where he lived), camping overnight in Warrimoo next to the angophora tree and horse trough, before riding on to Wallerawang the next day. Hence began a connection with Warrimoo.

Lorraine Heggie as budding horsewoman.

The family lived at Punchbowl and Lorraine enjoyed her schooling at Lakemba Public and Bankstown High, where she developed a love of reading and playing tennis barefoot.

Lorraine as a student at Lakemba Public in 1934 (note the class size)--she is top row, second from the right. 

During her youth Lorraine developed a close relationship with her father who shared his eclectic love of nature, animals and history with her: it was he who provided her with lizards, snakes and a dingo puppy, 'Jekyll', as pets, and taught her how to cook potatoes in their jackets on an open fire (long before alfoil).

 In 1943 Lorraine studied Art at East Sydney Technical College. She studied there for 6 years, life drawing, silver jewellery design, print making and weaving, majoring in Textile Design. One of her fellow students during this formative period was one Margaret Olley.

Lorraine as a youthful Art student attending East Sydney Technical College--one of her classmates was Margaret Olley

At the end of WWII Lorraine's father enlisted in the 'British and Commonwealth Occupation Force', which was given responsibility for overseeing the occupation of defeated Japan. They were to maintain military control in the country and to supervise the demilitarisation and disposal of the remnants of Japan's war-making capacity.

Holidaying with friends on the Gold Coast--before Allan. Lorraine is at the centre, back row.

It was during this time that the 'Officer Commanding', Charlie Heggie, met 'enlisted soldier' Allan Bewley, who was returning to Australia for his 'Rest and Recreation' Leave. Charlie invited Allan to visit his family and this led to the first meeting between Allan and Lorraine, in 1948. Allan returned to duty in Japan and Korea, while Lorraine graduated and took up teaching Art at Canberra Girls Grammar School--yet they remembered each other...

 After she had returned to Sydney to work in Mark Foy's Cosmetic Department Lorraine was soon confronted by a returning Allan. Romance blossomed, and when Allan achieved promotion as a 'Commissioned Officer' in the Army, in 1954, Lorraine proudly sewed his pips to his uniform.

While working at Mark Foy's, Lorraine was chosen to wear the 1951 'Dress of the Year'...

Married to the Army?

On 24th September 1954, Lorraine and Allan were married at Ashfield Presbyterian Church. Subsequently, when Allan was stationed in Tasmania for 4 years Lorraine followed him there, but when she became pregnant she was prevailed upon to go back to Sydney where both families lived, to have her first baby, 'Lex', in 1956.

During the time of her wooing by Allan Bewley, the couple took road trips and walks whenever possible, wherever they were

 In 1958, the young family moved to 'Puckapunyal', an Australian Army training facility in central Victoria, but again Lorraine travelled back to Sydney to have her second child and first daughter, 'Andree'. Then Allan was posted to Singapore for a two year assignment in 1960, and yet again, Lorraine fell pregnant. This time, however, she determined to have this next birth with her husband, and keep it secret from those at home. Thus, when they arrived back in Sydney with 'Lisa', the new arrival, Lorraine asked her father to go onboard ship as she had forgotten a package in her cabin. When Charlie arrived, to his total surprise and delight, he found his 6 month old grand daughter sitting propped up on the cabin floor!

Further postings occurred until Allan gained an Army/Air Force role at Richmond, with his family able to live nearby in a home of their own. In 1965 Allan and Lorraine chose an 8.5 acre block at Warrimoo upon which to build the house that was to become their life-long family home. Being an avid bush-lover, Lorraine had a big hand in situating the house away from Railway Parade and nestled in native surrounds, where Allan could pursue his Nursery interests and she could walk and explore the many caves and secluded settings in the valley below.

 Lorraine Bewley and Warrimoo

Lorraine almost instantly fell in love with Warrimoo's environment and her community. She remembered in those early years how almost everyone had chooks in their back yard, yet water was always scarce--she had to brush the potatoes clean, rinse them in a tiny amount of water and cook them in just an inch of water in the pot. She used a 'Push Mower' to mow the lawn, and recalled it as being great exercise for all her muscles.

As the children, Lex, Andree and Lisa, grew and entered Warrimoo Public School, she became highly involved in the P&C and Canteen roster. Experienced in teaching, she was exceptional with children and became expert in helping younger students with remedial reading. She also took part in the 'learning how to swim' programme as a volunteer instructor--one of the great achievements of Public Schools in Australia in the 50's and 60's was that the vast majority of children learned the basics of survival in the water. She volunteered her time and effort to the school so much that she was awarded Life Membership of the Warrimoo Public School P&C.

Helping out again at the Warrimoo PS School Fair

Adoring children of all ages, Lorraine loved her own children, her grandchildren, and any other children she could acquaint herself with. Consequently she devoted much of her life to the local Girl Guides, being Secretary and President of the local Warrimoo/Springwood branch and rising to 'Badge Secretary' at District level. Her commitment ultimately led to the construction of the local Girl Guides Hall off Rickard Road. It is still there.

To say Lorraine Bewley was determined to stand up for the betterment of her community would be a serious understatement. She was an active member of the Warrimoo Citizens Association and a regular attendee at Council meetings: she knew every Councillor and their interests and weak points, so she could voice her opinions and stand her ground on all the issues affecting her community, without fear or favour.

Atop the bridge that bears her husband's name, on the day the Olympic Torch came through Warrimoo.

She was a 'forward thinker' when it came to redesigning ideas to preserve the beauty of her neighbourhood: she worked tirelessly in getting the old, decrepit and outmoded Highway tennis courts rebuilt at the end of Rickard Road. She and her stalwarts Trish Mungovern and Joan Milroy would attend every Council meeting and grill every Councillor until they achieved their goal. Once this was gained, she ensured that a clubhouse and toilet block adjoined the courts. She then demanded bollards, seats and planted trees be placed between the road and the courts to maintain the necessary 'bushland ambience' of the new playing area. 

Once built, she remained on the 'Tennis Court Committee' which oversaw the bookings, running and maintenance of the 'Warrimoo Courts' until her death in 2017. 'Mrs Bewley' was renowned as the 'Keeper of the Keys' throughout the 60's till the end, and in 2016, a year before her passing, her dedication was recognised when Blue Mountains' Mayor, Mark Greenhill, presented her with a special certificate for Citizenship from Blue Mountains City Council...

'Mrs Bewley' in later life--'The Keeper of the Keys'

 Lorraine Bewley--a true Warrimoo 'Character'

When it came to 'Warrimoo Events': school Presentation Nights, Fire Brigade fund-raisers, Spring Fairs, Election Days, 'Footsteps in Time' unveilings, the Olympic Flame transit, 'Santa Days', the opening of the Warrimoo Footbridge or the Highway Widening event, Lorraine was a presence too vibrant to ignore.

Hosting yet another Fire Brigade fundraiser in her own back yard.

Despite her somewhat 'feisty and opinionated' reputation she was generous with her time and support, and she proved to be a true friend to fellow Warrimooians, underdogs and wayward teenagers--always ready to defend their rights and interests. At one time the 'milk money' was being stolen from the 'Delivery Boxes' at the front of peoples' houses, but 'Mrs Bewley's money', whether it was through fear or respect, was never touched. And she possessed a truly quirky, ironic, off-beat sense of humour.

She adored her surrounding bush environment and filled her back yard with native plants and flowers, and enjoyed regular treks 'out-back' into her valley to reconnect with the 'Aboriginal Caves' there. In taking such walks she ignored the advice of her caring husband who warned her to wear 'sensible shoes' instead of the rubber thongs that were her hallmark, so when, on one of these sojourns, she slipped down the rocky path and broke her ankle, she was obliged to slide, scramble and crawl the whole distance up the incline and back to the house before being taken to the hospital.

Budgerigars were another passion. She loved them and bred them and sold them or gave them away (depending on her mood), for the whole duration of her 50 years at Warrimoo. If you looked into the budgie cage, watch out! You could be taking one home.

Always inquiring, learning, reading, discovering, Lorraine became more than literate in Australian, English and Scottish history as well as Aboriginal culture and folklore. All this led to an abiding interest in her family's genealogy, which commenced in the late 1980's. She took 7 trips to Scotland to discover, confirm and record her own family roots, and then drew Allan and his ancestry into her web by sending him to Salt Lake City to research the Mormon Family History Library!

Receiving her well-deserved Award for Services to the Warrimoo Tennis Courts and Community, from BMCC Mayor Mark Greenhill. She also received a beautiful silver cup from the Warrimoo Citizens Association for her life-long commitment.

Towards the end her home grew even more cluttered with books, magazines, random pieces of paper with 'good ideas' and newsworthy items, as well as a multitude of kitchen magnets--her daughters Andree and Lisa both agreed a metal coffin covered in magnets would be a fitting send-off. And at that time their mum's sense of humour never deserted her. When she rang her old friend, Trish Mungovern, to ask if she still had that 'little black dress' in the wardrobe reserved for funerals, Trish replied, 'Oh dear, no black, but will a red one do?'

 'Perfect,' said Lorraine.

Two weeks later, on the 9th May 2017, Lorraine Bewley passed away in her own bed. She was almost 90 years of age.

*Sources for this biography were: (most primarily), Andree Bewley's Eulogy

                                                   'Warrimoo History Project' Interview by Evelyn Richardson and Kate Matthew

                                                    and  (author) Bob Treasure 


Saturday, 2 July 2022

Cross Street Reserve: WCA's Greatest Victory?

 Cross Street Reserve--WCA's Greatest Victory? 1986--1994

Ever since the construction of Warrimoo Public School on Florabella Street, interest had been growing around the now vacant block of Crown Land situated next to Cross Street. Many years before, citizens had campaigned to turn it into a park/oval, and 'Green Acre Park Ltd' (Arthur Rickard) had offered it to the residents and Council for 15 pounds, under a covenant that the "land be used for public recreation only".

It was done: Council accepted, the residents chipped in, the land was cleared, and cricket was played there during the 1930's. It fell into disuse in the war years and subsequently the Department of Education resumed the land (1957) for the future purpose of building a school there...

By the 1980's, the WCA mustered local support and began writing letters to the State government and Council to have the land designated 'public parkland' so that a new Public Park and Playground could be established as part of the Mountains' 'Bi-Centennial Celebrations' of 1988. This was rejected outright. Then, in 1991, rumours circulated that the State government was prepared to sell the land to Council, meaning the only way BMCC might regain such payment was to subdivide it and develop it as residential blocks.

Cross Street residents meet outside the controversial site to hear a report from WCA President, Allan Bewley--these people were the backbone of the campaign to save Warrimoo bushland from development.

Conversely, the land site in Cross Street meets most requirements as an ideal location for a recreational park: 

•        It is isolated from heavy traffic and the volume of light traffic is unlikely to increase.

•        Sixty-five percent of the houses are located East of the Highway, hence it can be assumed that a high percentage of the population are located in this area.

•     Any large future development within the village boundary is most likely to occur East of the Highway. The need for an additional recreational area is now a requirement.  Further development will escalate that need.

•     Pedestrian access to the proposed site is relatively easy and local light traffic should not jeopardise the safety of children going to and from the proposed park.

 Financial Consideration

Without benefit of legal advice, WCA believe that the Covenant that still remains on the Land Title Document is valid and the land value should reflect the restriction imposed by that Covenant. The land should therefore be used for its intended purpose, that is, recreation without any cost to the Council.

If we are wrong on this assumption, then we ask Council to negotiate with the State Government to buy the land and have it dedicated as parkland.

We believe the new park could be developed over several years with minimal ongoing financial assistance from Council. Most of the labour would be performed by local service clubs and other volunteer labour from within the community.

 WCA have a Landscape Architect who would do the design work free of cost. Our Association would co-ordinate the volunteer work.


That Council, through the Local State Member, request the Government return the land to Council for recreational purposes, thus acting in the spirit of the original Covenant.

Our Association is willing to assist Council in every way possible.

 Presented to Council by A W Bewley, President of the WCA.

 It was a powerful case, but it did not have its desired effect--at least not immediately. It would take another 3 long years of lobbying, publicity, discussions, letter-writing, legal to-ing and fro-ing and political jousting for the government to finally make its decision, largely pressured by the oncoming Highway widening. As a result, an ecstatic WCA Secretary, Patricia Mungovern, could write this final, triumphal letter to Council...

This gorgeous view greets visitors to the 'bush side' of Cross Street Reserve. There is also a slightly tricky track descending to the valley below...

The Final Letter

 Tel:  047-53 6252                                                                 102 Railway Parade
                                                                                              WARRIMOO  NSW  2774
                                                                                              12 December 1994
The City Manager
Blue Mountains City Council
Dear Sir
SUBJECT:               Cross Street Land – To be Given Crown Land Status
After eight years of continuous effort by our Association the State Government have finally made a determination, in our favour, that the Educational land site in Cross Street revert to Crown Land status.  The Minister of Lands will seek concurrence of the BMCC that the land be held in Trust, by the Council, for community use.
The Minister for Education, The Honourable Virginia Chadwick, in a letter to Mr Barry Morris, Member for The Blue Mountains on the 1 December 1994 stated, (paraphrased):
"I have now written to the Hon G. Souris, Minister for Land and Water Conservation requesting that the site be converted to crown land and reserved for community purposes.  I have also recommended that negotiations be undertaken with the Blue Mountains City Council to act as Trustee".
Mr Morris has asked the President of the Association (Allan Bewley) to monitor the transfer of the land between the Education Department and the Lands Department and to liaise with the BMCC as necessary.
It would be appreciated if the name of a staff member could be given for Mr Bewley to contact.
Yours faithfully
P Mungovan (Mrs)
Honorary Secretary

But the story does not end there. By now BMCC wanted to build a new park adjacent to Rickard Road Oval, and it rejected WCA's long term call for a children's play park--now, the Cross St. land was to be designated a 'Natural Reserve'.

Enthusiastic volunteers clean up the newly won 'Cross Street Reserve', a beautiful piece of public land for the citizens of Warrimoo, and more particularly, neighbouring residents.

Undeterred, WCA organised a 'Working Bee' of enthusiastic local residents to clear and maintain the Reserve. The group became a 'de facto management committee' and published a monthly newsletter for distribution in Cross St. They, as well as the WCA, are responsible for this beautiful piece of Mountains bushland set against a suburban backdrop: it has a walking track, a vista space overlooking a gorgeous valley, a vibrant natural habitat and a children's adventure space.

Truly, a great achievement of the Warrimoo Citizens Association and the people of Warrimoo--let us ensure we preserve it!

Friday, 3 June 2022

How did the Citizens Hall arrive?

 The Warrimoo Citizens Hall 1957

Articles mentioning the desire for a 'new Hall' began emerging in the local press: in the April 6 1947 edition of Nepean Times the matter was 'raised' and 'discussed', in November of 1948 residents were 'still seeking a site for the Hall', and in February of 1949 the new Hall was still being 'discussed', and a 'subscription list' for residents and businesses to donate funds for the project was initiated. Clearly, it was time this idea was moved towards realisation...

By the early 1950's things were moving in a more concrete direction: residents had agreed that a section of Warrimoo's public land, namely, the western end of Ardill Park, be the site for a new Hall, which, as Ald. Sheppard on behalf of Council reported at a Progress meeting, would be supported by the Lands Department.
This news set off a flurry of activities to raise funds for the building of an ideal, modern Hall for the benefit of the Warrimoo community. Plans were drawn up and a vision grew. In June the Association decided it would enter not one but three local beauties in the 'Maid of the Mountain' competition: one representing the new Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade, one from the Tennis Club, and one from the Progress. The maidens would raise funds for the charity sponsoring the event, but surplus monies went to the Hall.

Local media identity Beryl Guertner# was approached to suggest architects to design the Hall, and she was immediately forthcoming: it was to be Mr. William Sharp.

The Warrimoo Citizens Hall was to become the centrepiece of the community. It's modern design was a source of pride for all who saw it built.

Cake stalls, fetes, 'Spring Fairs', raffles and social events continued apace as fundraising surged toward the Holy Grail of Warrimoo's community Hall, yet still it was not enough to cover the cost of a double brick, state-of-the-art suburban hub such as was being proposed, and so it was essential that Blue Mountains City Council come to the party. This the Council did, and construction began, on condition that the residents of Warrimoo repaid the cost of construction over time...

Thus, at its February 1957 meeting, the Warrimoo Progress Association carried the following: 

 ...the Blue Mountains City Council be asked to approve repayment of the loan money, on the basis of a levy of 1.2d. additional to the present rate, this to be reviewed at the end of 12 months with the idea that any profit accrued in the hiring of the hall be used so as to reduce the levy.

 Mr. Norm Leven (President of the Association) put into words the thoughts of all those present, that this was indeed a small price to pay for such an improvement to Warrimoo's social and public affairs...[

At the same meeting, members of the Association elected a 'Management Committee' to oversee the hiring and upkeep of the Hall--there was exuberant optimism that this new amenity would be popularly used. As construction of the Hall neared its climax, a 'Monster Carnival' was staged by the Progress Association in Ardill Park. The Nepean Times described it as follows...

On Saturday, May 11, at Ardill Park, Great Western Highway, the Warrimoo Progress  Association sponsored a Monster Carnival, proceeds of which are for the 'Warrimoo Citizens' Hall Furniture Fund'. Donations are still being received, and the nett proceeds should be over £130. The carnival commenced at 2p.m., when the Penrith-St. Marys Brass Band and the Penrith Marching Girls led the fancy dress parade into the grounds surrounding the Warrimoo Hall.

The grounds had been specially cleared and levelled for the carnival although the hall is not as yet quite finished.

Renowned cooking/radio celebrity Del Cartwright was invited to the 'monster carnival' Hall fundraiser held in Ardill Park. 

Del Cartwright (of radio and T.V.) and her husband, Ken Parry, were the official guests of the carnival and they most ably judged the fancy dress parade, and later on the pet parade. Penrith-St. Marys Brass Band and Penrith Marching Girls were undoubtedly the highlights of the carnival. Their display of intricate precision marching, accompanied by the music of the band, quickly gathered all the people at the carnival, and even many travellers who were passing the grounds. The Warrimoo Progress Association is deeply indebted to the band and the Marching Girls for their wonderful help toward the carnival's success.[7]

 At last, on 22nd August 1957, the big day came. The Mayor, Mr. A. F. C. Murphy, resplendant in his robe of office and mayoral chain, proclaimed the 'Warrimoo Citizens Hall' formally "open", then declared,

 I join with everybody here in praying that, within these walls there will be much happiness and knowledge, and that there will be much good done for other people. I declare this hall open.

The Hall plaque remains, in somewhat battered condition, as a memorial to the Official Opening.
The Opening was a red-letter day indeed, reflected in the range of invited VIP's: apart from the Mayor and his wife, there was the Town Clerk, Mr. J. S. Pryor, who wore his legal gown and wig, then there was the Member for Macquarie, Mr. A. S, Luchetti, M.H.R. (and Mrs. Luchetti), Mr.W. L. Chapman, M.L.A. for the Blue Mountains, three aldermen of B.M. City Council, and other V.I.P.'s not mentioned in the press.

The Hall was notable for a number of 'modern' features: the large inset windows and the emphasis on natural light--during the day, artificial lighting was not really necessary.

Mr. N. C. ('Norm') Leven, president of Warrimoo Progress Association welcomed these people. He paid a special tribute to the Mayor and the Town Clerk and to all guests who had assisted in raising the thousands of pounds required to achieve this most modern of Community Halls. To conclude...

Two small children, Wendy Meers and Gordon Leven, presented bouquets to Mrs. Leven (wife of the president of the progress association) and to Mrs.Murphy (wife of the Mayor of Blue Mountains city Council). The choir sang "Belmont," and was encored. Afternoon tea was served, and that concluded a memorable occasion.

Friday, 1 April 2022

When the Highway Came to Warrimoo

WCA Triumph: the Highway Widening--1996-2000

Feasibly the biggest contribution made by Warrimoo Citizens Association to the township's improvement was through negotiations over the widening of the Great Western Highway. This change meant the arrival of an inevitable juggernaut which could readily have destroyed the 'village ambience' of Warrimoo, and/or divided its people in lingering bitterness. Already, residents were fed up with the continuous traffic of single lanes dividing the township and the implicit dangers of vehicle and pedestrian crossings to carry out everyday life.

An aerial shot of South Warrimoo after the 1957 fire--note how the Highway houses abut the Highway, and the distance between the Highway and Railway--the main road was much narrower then, and not much wider than The Avenue and The Boulevarde.

Warrimoo, in fact, was well placed to deal with the juggernaut. It possessed a Citizens Association duly elected and recognised as representing the township. Many Mountains settlements do not have such a body, or instead have a 'Chamber of Commerce' which represents retailers, but not necessarily residents. While it was one of the first townships to experience the disruption of road construction, it also had the opportunity to be a 'trendsetter' for villages further on--it all depended on whether RTA were eager to please, or eager to finish quickly, ramming work through regardless. Throughout its progress, Mountains' residents got a taste of both, but Warrimoo was lucky.

As it eventuated, both the RTA (Roads and Traffic Authority--now the 'RMS--Roads and Maritime Services',) and the Citizens Association were intent on having the widest consultation possible, so when RTA 'feelers' were put out in early 1992, the WCA responded with a leaflet drop to all letterboxes and notification to all the 'institutions' of Warrimoo: the Fire Brigade, the schools, shopkeepers, churches and sporting clubs. The principle concerns at the outset were:

What special interest do the residents have?

What can be done to enhance the work to our benefit?

What is the best way to get the people involved?

Previously the community had already discussed:

·       Overhead bridge or tunnel for pedestrian traffic

·       Second set of lights at the Boulevarde

·       No barrier fence in the median strip opposite the shops

·       Buy old garage site for parking

·       Better exit from the Highway to the Fire Brigade and Hall

·       Noise pollution - Road Surface, Embankment, Tree Planting

·       Traffic Exit from Railway Parade - Underpass

·       Parking facilities at or near shops

·       Upgrading Entrance/Exit to Torwood Road

 Possible Extras:

·       Upgrade Ardill Park - for use of passing traffic- Entrance/Exit

·       Landscape from East of the shops to Ardill Park

·       Landscape Median Strip

·       Expansion of parking for possibly two more shops

WCA executive members and residents discuss proposed changes to Highway dimensions with the RTA 'On Site Engineer'

Relations between RTA and WCA had thus begun well, and with the by-words 'Consultation, Cooperation and Collaboration' operating, a pattern of bi-monthly meetings took place from 1994 onwards to achieve 'win-win' outcomes for all concerned. The meetings regularly involved:

·       RTA overview Supervisor from Head Office Blacktown

·       RTA Resident on site Engineer

·       RTA Liaison: Ian Scott

·       BMCC Officer with Oversight for the Project

·       WCA President, Allan Bewley

·       Liaison Officer, RTA/Community

·       WCA  Member, Lex Bewley (Landscape Architect NSW Hons)

These Meetings proved their worth and many new ideas originating from Residents were implemented...

The Great Western Highway as it appeared in the 1960's--note the closeness of the road verge to houses, the width of Ardill Park, and 'Hurley's Butchery' in the distance (now 'Whimsical Notions' Antiques')

Service Roads

The first was a bonanza for the residents facing two new Service Roads: one East of the Village to the old Ampol site, from the shops to The Avenue; the second from the Western end of Railway Parade to Sun Valley.  Both before the upgrade were dirt tracks. New bitumen roads with kerb and guttering were constructed by RTA adding considerable value to their homes, and entry/egress to their own homes/garages was now clearly separate from the GWH. Some residents were generously reimbursed for small portions of their frontages being acquired by RTA.

 The Village Shopping Centre

'Village Centre'--looking from 'Big Shop' angle. Notice the old rubbish bin, the 'Bills Water Trough' and the absence of a 'Commuter Car Park'! There was a toilet block in the clump of trees to the left, but it is hard to make out.

The shops were the big winners, two entrances from the Highway instead of one and parking for 22 vehicles in front of the General Store/ Post Office and 12 spaces in front of the Antique Shop.

The shops precinct immediately after completion of the GWH , with fresh plantings and parking spaces. The Liquor store was once 'Turnbull's Real Estate'

The 1960's--the 'Big Shop' directly opposite the old Tennis Courts and station. The tiny chemist shop beneath the 'Peters Ice Cream' sign is barely visible. Parking to visit the shops was on the verge of the road.

The same beautiful building as it stands today: "Monte Italia Pizzeria" minus the little chemist shop.

 The Warrimoo Hall

Due to direct entrance from the Highway being blocked and the Highway moved much closer to the front, thus eliminating the old entrance steps to the Hall, RTA paid for and built the:

·     Access ramp to the front of the hall from the WVFB/ WCA car park

·       Enclosure for the veranda and entrance doors at the front of the Hall

·       Double glazed windows on the Southern and Western sides of the Hall

·       Air circulation installation and heating equipment in the Hall

·       Improved car parking around the hall making 18 places.

The Warrimoo Citizens Hall was 'cramped up' by the new GWH--parking at the front was no longer possible, so Eley-Hawkins Drive went round the back, and 18 nominated parking spots were made available for both the Hall and the Fire Brigade HQ.

The Warrimoo Volunteer Fire Brigade Hall and surrounds:

Though WCA had little to do in the restructuring of the Fire Brigade Hall Executive members did sit in on meeting with the Brigade Executive, RTA and BMCC when alterations to the Brigade Hall and surrounding area, particularly the Elly Hawkins Drive were being planned. There would be one of two exits from South Warrimoo to South bound traffic on the Highway. The Brigade did well by having the entrance to the Highway blocked and the tanker bay extended about two meters on the southern side. A new double electrical roller door was fitted and the height of the tanker bay raised. Also a large area of hard standing concrete for washing vehicles was constructed by RTA.  The “Pig Spit” was covered in to make room for Elly Hawkins Drive. RTA bought a Stainless Steel Pig Spit/BBQ for $2,700.00 to replace it. The Brigade did very well from the Road Widening Project.

 Ardill Park

It was initially intended that Elly Hawkins Drive join the Highway opposite the Boulevarde. This would have greatly reduced the area for Ardill Park. WCA were adamant that the area of the Park not be reduced further. At considerable cost a retaining wall was built on the Northern side of Elly Hawkins Drive to allow widening and the Drive extended to an area opposite the Boulevarde. Ardill Park was redesigned to its present form with greatly enhanced landscaping.

The Association persuaded RTA to provide two Shelter Sheds of our design to be positioned in the Park. RTA also provided three Bus Shelters, two in the Village area and one on the Service road towards Sun Valley.

 Jersey Barrier from The Boulevarde to the Fire Brigade Hall

This jersey strip had been only partially completed stopping short of the Elly Hawkins Drive exit to the highway and The Boulevarde junction after urgent requests by WCA.  It was (and is!) ugly in the extreme, visually offensive and divided the Village, also obscuring any view once enjoyed of Ardill Park.  If allowed to continue further westward it would have certainly destroyed the aesthetic setting that is being developed as the Warrimoo Civic Precinct.  This embraces the Citizens Hall, Fire Station and the Village Green and the Recreation Area on the east side of the Hall.

Immediately the first section of the parapet was constructed it raised an outcry from residents who rightly called it the “prison wall” that was visibly dividing the Village.  Our Representative Allan Bewley at the bi-monthly BMCC/RTA/SWR/WCA Meeting voiced these objections and suggested a softer approach should be examined for the continuation of the parapet.  He suggested a ‘bridge type’ parapet with see-through railings would be more appropriate for this very sensitive area within the Village Precinct. At Meeting No 10 of the above Committee, a diagram of this Standard RTA traffic barrier railing was tabled. 

Once you could access Ardill Park all along, directly from the Highway--changes meant that this retaining wall had to be built, and special 'bridge-style' railing placed on the jersey barriers, instead of bald concrete.

This type of parapet had the full support of the WCA and many other residents who had viewed it. The circular rails which were more attractive were, at the time, considered impractical by RTA, but under strong pressure from our reps this type of railing was ultimately incorporated into the works program. It extended several metres east of the Service Road exiting opposite The Boulevarde and up to where it terminated in the vicinity of the Citizens/Fire Brigade Halls. 

 Corridor of Trees - Sun Valley and East Valley Heights

The road reconstruction as it proceeded West beyond the overhead rail bridge opposite The Avenue would need to remove a strip of mature trees forming a median between the East and West bound lanes.  The trees were ideally suited for the median strip but space would not allow their retention with the four traffic lanes proposed.

 Lex Bewley put forward an idea that a strip of railway vacant land be acquired and the new west bound lanes moved 20 metres South, thus leaving the mature trees to form the median.  This was eventually done and the corridor of trees between the East and West lanes now enhance the road in this area.

 The Pedestrian Bridge

The design for the proposed Bridge was controversial and none of the plans submitted by RTA were acceptable in their present form, a decision was not made at the first meeting where the bridge was discussed, hence delaying a decision until the next meeting.  Lex Bewley would hold discussions with some of his engineering friends and obtain designs of bridges in Europe.

View from the Bewley Bridge down the GWH. Note the "W", 'Circle' and 'Star' signs punched from the pedestrian bridge's railing--a unique feature. Some of the wonderful callistemons seen below have been replaced with jersey barriers in an 'upgrade' carried out in 2016.

Consequently Lex Bewley presented several drawings of bridges he obtained from Magazines at NSW University to the next meeting. The option chosen was close to one of those originally submitted by RTA but with a couple of modifications suggested by WCA, including the unique art deco 'pylons' at each end. It was acceptable to RTA and was built across the Highway in its present position.

Lex Bewley's suggested Art Deco 'pylons' are an artistic 'nod' to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and make the Bewley Bridge something more than just a 'footbridge'--it soars like a song from the people of Warrimoo.

Soaring artistically, it is rightly recognised as the best in the Mountains and contains in its steel railing three punched icons representing Warrimoo: a circle, a star and a delightful 'W', unique to our bridge. It is often referred to as the great 'Warrimoo Harbour Bridge' and stands as a renowned landmark of our township...well done WCA!

The Bewley Bridge soars skywards and invites Warrimooians to observe cosmic events like lunar eclipses from its pathway.

 North – South Underpass

The North – South Underpass was shown on the original concept plans drawn up by RTA. It was essential for the interchange of vehicles between North and South Warrimoo that is divided by the rail and GWH. Amazingly, shortly after the project started RTA informed us that due to financial restrictions the underpass would not be built!

WCA immediately challenged this decision and sought the help of Bob Debus, our local State Member, to obtain extra finance for building the underpass. Much to his credit he obtained the extra money for the underpass to be reinstated into the project.

(*As a footnote it is important to acknowledge the death of a workman whose front-end Digger rolled down the rail embankment and crushed him during the underpass construction. The WCA sent a condolence letter to RTA and his family after this tragic event).

Warrimoo's 'second underpass', which kept the 'two halves' of Warrimoo together. No other township on the Mountains was able to secure such a feat, avoiding traffic lights and feasibly, many fatal accidents.

The completed project meant that TWO underpasses, one under the GWH and running next to the Hall and FB Headquarters providing safe access for residents seeking eastward entry/egress; and another under both the Highway and the Rail line to maintain connection between North and South Warrimoo, had been attained.

The 'Double Underpass' is cordoned off in preparation for its formal opening.

The original plan for the underpass was deleted by the RTA as a cost-cutting measure, but after representations from WCA, local MLA Bob Debus lobbied successfully to provide the required funds for its completion.

No other village/township in the Mountains was able to achieve this 'double solution'--viva Warrimoo!

 Motifs embedded in GWH Jersey Barriers

The motifs on the road barriers in the Village depict three man-held pack horses headed West. They are etched into seven of the westward concrete barriers symbolizing the European crossing of the Mountains. The etched barriers start at the eastern side of the overhead bridge. These “drawings” were the brainchild of Lex Bewley to create a distraction from (what are otherwise ugly) bare concrete barriers. They are intended to show a little of our past history when Wentworth, Blaxland and Lawson passed through Warrimoo in 1813.

Imprinted silhouettes on the Jersey Barriers underside the Bewley Bridge--they represent the Crossing of the Mountains by Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson in 1813, and are unique to Warrimoo. Exhaust fumes and weathering have obscured the motifs, but they are still there and it is WCA's ambition to make them clearly visible again.

These items were another victory to enhance the Village. It was fortunate we had a Landscape Architect as a member of the WCA. RTA actually listened to his professional suggestions.

Land Scaping the Project

Nearly a million dollars was allotted in the budget for land scaping the Highway through Warrimoo. We were very aware of the “not too successful” landscaping of the M4. We persuaded RTA that a Landscape Architect of our choice be given the task of landscaping the Road Widening Project through Warrimoo. RTA suggested we submit three names to them to choose the person. This was done and WCA lobbied discreetly for Maryanne Schell, who was indeed chosen for the role.

 Maryanne did extremely well in meeting our expectations and her work is readily visible in the area where the Road Widening took place--the beautiful Callistemon ('Bottlebrush') plantings and the stand of Turpentines and assorted trees between the shops and the Warrimoo sign on the Eastern end, are a couple of examples (regrettably Maryanne died of cancer three years after completion of the Warrimoo section).

 Guided Tours of Work in Progress

As a goodwill gesture in the middle of the widening project, RTA offered to provide a guided tour of construction progress in June, 1997. Numerous residents responded enthusiastically, and were treated to a dramatic walk via burgeoning Service Roads to Warrimoo's unheralded wetlands, Aboriginal caves, park improvements and new bridge vantage points, all the while being informed about costs and completion dates--overall, it was estimated that the cost of the two-laned Highway through Warrimoo would be roughly $50m.

Penultimately, near completion, a 'Final Walk' around the construction site was carried out by RTA liaison rep. Ian Scott and WCA President Allan Bewley in October 1999. This was an opportunity to round off ('beautify') aspects of construction and remove rubbish and leftover detritus from the various sites used...

Member for the State seat of Blue Mountains, Bob Debus, formally opens the newly completed section of Highway in December 2000. He is proudly accompanied by BMCC Councillor Angelique Henson, and WCA Executives Trish Mungoven and Allan Bewley.

Success in such 'public relations' exercises with Warrimoo residents can be measured in the sheer number of interested onlookers who turned up to watch hallmark events such as insertions of the final pieces of Rail and Pedestrian Bridges--carried out with a Highway blockade and huge cranes--as well as the final opening/celebration of the completed section by Bob Debus in December, 2000.

Overall, the Highway Widening through Warrimoo was testament to a wonderful collaboration between the Citizens Association and a huge State instrumentality, the (then) RTA. What a pity relations were soured some twelve years later when the (now) RMS decided to ram through the installation of extra concrete jersey barriers on the western median strip, with little or no consideration for the loss of callistemon (bottlebrush) plants and landscaping that this entailed--it was struggle enough for the WCA to save the callistemons that remain today!