In early Spring, a corridor of golden wattle, nectar rich hairpin banksias and fallen gum leaves leads to an overhang. Four full-size “portals” plus “keyholes” create complex plays of sunlight on the earth below the dark sandstone.
A most unusual rock formation. The man who gave instructions for his mortal remains to have this as their final resting place was a most unusual man.
Mark Foy (1865-1950) can be appreciated through the history of buildings he conceived. There was the Hydro. In 1904, Foy amalgamated the Belgravia building and other parts of the old Hargraves holding and nearby buildings into a hot and cold spa resort. After multiple incarnations and hibernations, it’s now a mountains venue known for its warm welcomes.
There was his wife’s half-way house. Mrs Foy found Blue Mountains trains slow, dirty and annoying so her husband built a little place where her coach could lay up overnight on trips from Darling Point to Medlow Bath and she could rest her head. He later sold this Faulconbridge property to Norman Lindsay and now its one of the National Trust’s showpieces.
Finally, there’s the ornate department store building opposite Sydney’s Museum Station. Foy was an honest retailer and the thousands of Sydney-siders entering the building to purchase something important had a fair idea what the charge would be. In 2017, the building is part of the “Downing Centre” complex of NSW courts and most entering still have a good understanding of the charge.
Standing before the bent old Black Ash tree, the orange lichen, the “Old Man’s Beard” plant, the grey flaky-barked tea trees and the geebungs, it’s easy to understand Mark Foy’s love for the hideaway that contrasted to the intensity of his life.
But his family didn’t put him there. Maybe they seized the opportunity to stop doing what he said. One thing we can take from the story of Mark Foy: If you are one of those wise people who want to spend lots of time communing with your favourite piece of Blue Mountains bushland, do it while you’re alive.
© Don Morison