Monday, July 21, 2008

Catalina Park Katoomba

Catalina Park lake_0046
Originally uploaded by gtveloce
Technically it's west of Sydney, but it's so close and so much a part of Sydney life that it gets a guernsey here.

Would you believe this was originallly a privately-funded amusement park with an ornamental (and actual bathing) lake? Later to include a Catalina flying boat (in the centre of the lake, hence the name) that was presumably trucked in?

Later still (around 1950) a motor racing circuit was built around the edge of what was known as "the Gully" north and west of this shot, to the dismay of residents, many indigenous. Thousands of years of aboriginal Australian culture was disturbed or destroyed in the process of creating a track for car racing. Great work, guys. Mind you, that was how things were done - with fewer regulations, less concern for the past (or for safety!) and a very different understanding of our shared history, development just "happened" and the consequences were dealt with much later. Sadly we all pay for this loss of history; even motor sport pays the price because they lose a track that, if better placed, could have remained viable.  

Mind you, if you take a walk around the old track you can't help but be amazed. It's still walkable, even rideable by bicycle. In many places it's walled by wooden safety railings with little or no safety run offs for cars.

It was still in occasional use when I was lap-dashing with a car club in the early '80s and whilst I didn't give it a go myself I can say that margin for error was close to zero. Brave. Dangerous. Exciting. Take your pick. The inner mudbath/dust bowl was also used for rally cross.
A shale and coal railway line also passed on the western edge of the park, providing a link from the main railway on the plateau down to the mines in the beautiful, otherwise unspoilt valleys. That was the 19th century in action I guess.

More info and another pic here.

My list of tracks.

1 comment:

Cammo_wm said...

Was at the inaugural meeting ,being a resident of katoomba at that time, My friend and local Doug Macarthur raced there in his healey sprite ,it was an interesting small circuit ,often affected by the dreaded blue mountains mist ,that at times closed the circuit. Great days
long ago.