Boars Head has been a name used for a feature in Katoomba at least since 1882 and was described in the Katoomba and Leura Illustrated Guide of 1940 as “The perfect presentation of the head of a great boar, the beetling snout, the slavering jaws, the curved tusks”.
Today, Cahills Lookout and the Narrowneck fire trail are increasingly visited areas of Katoomba and a meet and greet ranger from National Parks & Wildlife Service has given information to visitors to the fire trail on certain days.Very few prominent features in the Blue Mountains can be easily photographed against such a variety of completely natural backgrounds – all the more so since the State Government purchase of Ngula Bulgarabang has apparently ruled out development on that outstanding plateau which provides a forest backdrop across Nellies Glen from the Boars Head.
The vicinity is worth revisiting to appreciate the changes in the Boars Head appearance according to the weather and the time of day.
A well-worn pedestrian bridge crosses the railway from Memorial Park, established in 1920 as a tribute to soldiers, to Railway Parade and the Wilson Glen loop bushwalk, opened in 1933. The remnants of red bunting still adorn the bridge, placed there in 2019 during a so-far successful campaign to stop the bridge being demolished, and it is still providing access to one of the best short bush walks in the mid mountains.
Memorial Park is now little used since the widened highway has brought fast traffic so close to its long-valued picnic areas but the Wilson Glen walk, taking in two pleasant creek valleys and the Gypsy Cave as it winds from Railway Parade to Buena Vista Road, is often visited.
The variety of vegetation in its couple of kilometres is stimulating, ranging from Angophora costata stands near Buena Vista Road to fringe temperate rainforest in the shadier sections. The scrub is thick enough to provide shelter for numerous small birds. In 1934, Blue Mountains Council seriously considered building a swimming pool in the reserve but the idea was eventually dropped, leaving the area exclusively to bush walkers.
Since its early coal mining days, towards the close of the 19th century, Lithgow has developed as a scattered pattern of village environments, often with former industrial or mining sites in between. Many species of birds find these sites a tolerable habitat, especially as their recent environmental management has made them more bird-friendly.
Water features in the Blue Mountains and Lithgow Local Government Areas support a variety of ducks, coots, grebes, swamp hens, moor hens, cormorants, darters and other water birds. The presence of reeds and other natural habitat surrounding the water features adds to the diversity of species.
Lake Pillans was created to store water for the Lithgow Blast Furnace which opened in 1913. Attempts to establish the lake as a bird-watching area have proceeded concurrently with the rehabilitation of the blast furnace ruins as a historic site. Flame Robins have been noticed congregating in the blast furnace ruins and surrounds in winter while various water birds are usually visible in the lake reserve.
Over the summer of 2019-20, airborne embers created spot fires near the lake and rain storms washed away some of the walking paths and causeways. Nevertheless, the reserve is still accessible to visitors and the birdlife remains present.
John Whitton was the Chief Engineer of NSW Railways from the late 1850s to 1890 whose major achievements include the Zig Zag viaducts (Lapstone and Lithgow) and the original Hawkesbury River bridge at Brooklyn. His memorial cairn stands in a currently sadly neglected, weed-infested reserve.
The memorial to this pioneer of access to the Blue Mountains is next to a car park accessible via Mitchells Pass Road from Glenbrook or the old highway from Emu Plains. The area has been a popular locality for exercise and fresh air for household members during the recent crisis, especially for those making the few hundred metre pilgrimage to the Knapsack Viaduct, one of the most beautiful of Whitton’s sandstone structures. It is beside the bicycle route from the new foot/cycle bridge across the Nepean to the Glenbrook Tunnel area.
Blue Mountains Council has put huge effort, with significant input from the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, into planning the future of Knapsack Park which virtually adjoins the John Whitton Memorial Place.
John Whitton Memorial Place is part of the so-called Western Sydney Parkland City. It is time it was festooned in layers of native vegetation as a tribute to the beautiful region that Whitton opened to the eyes of the world. It certainly deserves better than the layers of weeds, layers of graffiti and layers of State Government bureaucracy that presently bedevil it.