New South Wales
|Coordinates||33°43′S 150°19′E / 33.71°S 150.31°ECoordinates: 33°43′S 150°19′E / 33.71°S 150.31°E|
|Population||7,964 (2016 census)|
|Elevation||1,017 m (3,337 ft)|
|LGA(s)||City of Blue Mountains|
|State electorate(s)||Blue Mountains|
Katoomba is the chief town of the City of Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia, and the administrative headquarters of Blue Mountains City Council. The council's understanding is that Katoomba is located on the lands of the Dharug and Gundungurra Aboriginal peoples. Katoomba is situated on the Great Western Highway, Katoomba is also known as a suburb of Greater Sydney but is known as a town which is home to the three sisters, 102 km (63 mi) west of Sydney Central Business District and 39 km (24 mi) south-east of Lithgow. Katoomba railway station is on the Main Western line.
Katoomba is a base for bush and nature walks in the surrounding Blue Mountains. At the 2016 census, Katoomba had a population of 7,964 people.
Kedumba or Katta-toon-bah is an Aboriginal term for "shining falling water" or "water tumbling over hill" and takes its name from a waterfall that drops into the Jamison Valley below the Harrys Amphitheatre escarpment. Previously, the site was known as William's Chimney and Collett's Swamp. In 1874 the locality was named The Crushers after the name of the railway station that served a nearby quarry. The name Katoomba was adopted in 1877 and the town achieved municipality status in 1889.
For thousands of years, the Blue Mountains were home to Aboriginal peoples, specifically, the Gundungurra and Darug tribes. They knew the area known as kedumba, meaning shiny, falling waters. Today, there are still many traditional Aboriginal peoples living in the Blue Mountains, where there are now a number of cultural sites that walk visitors through the region's rich past and share the customs and heritage of the local tribes.
Katoomba and nearby Medlow Bath were first developed as tourist destinations towards the end of the 19th century when a series of hotels were built and then repeatedly extended.
Coal and oil shale mining was also carried out in the Jamison Valley for many years, but when the seams were completely exhausted by the early 20th century, Katoomba was an established resort town. By the 1960s, Katoomba had somewhat declined, and several of its guest houses were converted for other purposes, including convalescent hospitals.
In the 1980s, the guest houses and hotels again became fashionable and many were restored.
Katoomba has an oceanic climate (Cfb) with mild summers and cool winters. At Katoomba (1040 metres above sea level) summer daytime temperatures are usually in the low 20s – with a few rare days extending into the 30s (Celsius) – and night-time temperatures usually in the low teens. In winter, the maximum temperature is typically about 10 °C (50 °F) while the minimum generally around 0 °C (32 °F) or so on clear nights and 3 to 4 °C (37 to 39 °F) on cloudy nights. There are usually two or three settled snowfalls per year. Temperatures are on average 7 °C (13 °F) lower than Sydney with many misty days. Katoomba has 79.8 days of clear skies, annually.
The Blue Mountains has a reputation for snow in winter. However, despite the cool temperatures, there are only around five snowy days per year in the upper mountains area. It is extremely rare to see snow below Lawson. It is not unusual to see white blankets of frost covering the ground in the early morning hours. In the evening, thick coverings of ice can form on car windscreens. Moreover, winters aren't as snowy and rainy as those of Orange and Oberon, to the west; this is due to the fact Katoomba lies on the leeward side of the Great Dividing Range, therefore experiencing a foehn effect, whereas the latter towns lie windward of the Ranges, which are exposed to the westerly frontal systems.
Several significant snowfalls have been recorded. On 5 July 1900, snowdrifts were over 1.8 metres (6 ft) deep in parts of the Blue Mountains. The snow and ice caused significant problems throughout central New South Wales, with rail and road closures, damage to buildings, and disruption to telegraph services. A winter storm on 17 July 1965 also produced very heavy snow and ice in the area, with damage to buildings and major difficulties with road and rail transport. More recently, a cold snap brought very heavy snow, up to 20 cm, to Katoomba and other towns in the upper Blue Mountains on 17 July 2015 which was the heaviest snowfall in many years.
|Climate data for Katoomba (Farnells Road, 1991–2020); 1,017 m AMSL; 33.71° S, 150.30° E|
|Record high °C (°F)||39.8
|Average high °C (°F)||24.2
|Average low °C (°F)||13.5
|Record low °C (°F)||4.2
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||147.6
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)||16.3||15.7||15.6||11.5||10.1||12.2||10.6||9.8||10.1||12.1||15.6||14.7||154.3|
|Average afternoon relative humidity (%)||61||66||65||63||69||71||67||57||54||53||59||57||62|
|Source 1: |
Temperatures and rain data: 1991–2020; Relative humidity: 1991–2020
|Source 2: |
The area's scenery and art deco-style shops and houses attract an alternative subculture. Many poets, artists and environmentalists reside in Katoomba and the Blue Mountains generally, and the town hosts the Winter Solstice festival, Winter Magic, that features local talent, art and handicraft. The festival was established in 1994 to provide a local focus for the Blue Mountains-wide Yulefest. Yulefest is a long-running tourism initiative that promotes Northern Hemisphere-style Christmas celebrations during the Australian winter months June to August.
Novelist and historian Eleanor Dark (1901–1985) lived in Katoomba with her husband Dr. Eric Dark from 1923 until her death. The couple's home "Varuna" is now Varuna, The Writers' House. In 1921, production house duo Raymond Longford and Lottie Lyell filmed The Blue Mountains Mystery in part around the town centre. Ursula Dubosarsky's 1991 time-travel novel Zizzy Zing is set in Katoomba in 1938, at the time of the Sesquicentenary. Poet and author, Steven Herrick wrote a novel, 'The Bogan Mondrian' located in modern-day Katoomba. His verse-novel, 'love, ghosts and nose-hair' is also set in the town.
Blues musician Claude Hay is also a resident of Katoomba, having built his home and recording studio on the outskirts of town. Both of Hay's albums, 2007's Kiss the Sky and 2010s Deep Fried Satisfied were recorded in Katoomba, with the latter earning Hay critical acclaim and a No. 1 on the Roots Music Report Australian chart and No. 21 for airplay worldwide in October 2010.
In addition to its alternative sub-culture, the area is home to a large number of culturally diverse families and has a significant Aboriginal population. Catalina Park, commonly known as the Gully, was declared an Aboriginal Place in May 2002. It is an ecologically and culturally sensitive area with a long history of occupation by the Gundungarra and Darug tribes.
The Gundungurra Tribal Council Aboriginal Corporation, which is based in Katoomba, is a not-for-profit organization representing the Gundungurra traditional owners, promoting heritage and culture and providing a support for Gundungurra people connecting back to Country. Gundungurra Tribal Council Aboriginal Corporation has had a registered Native Title Claim since 1995 over their traditional lands which include the Blue Mountains and surrounding areas.
Katoomba is the home of local community radio station 89.1 Radio Blue Mountains. The local cinema is called The Edge, located on the Great Western Highway.
Since 2014, Katoomba has hosted the biennial Vertical Film Festival. There is also a live entertainment scene in Katoomba, with a wide range of music on offer at various venues, and theatre.
At the 2016 census, the suburb of Katoomba recorded a population of 7,964. Of these:
Katoomba's main industry is tourism based on its mountain scenery. The rock formation known as the Three Sisters, viewable from Echo Point about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) south of the main town, attracts four million visitors each year. Other features of the Jamison Valley visible from Echo Point include Mount Solitary and the rock formation known as the Ruined Castle. A short walk from Echo Point leads to the Giant Stairway which provides access to a number of nature walks through the Valley. Several of the Jamison Valley tracks, including the Stairway itself, were closed in recent years due to maintenance, but most have since been re-opened. The local geography includes extensive areas of dense warm temperate rainforest, hanging swamps and a series of waterfalls.
Other attractions include Scenic World, a tourist complex in the southwest of the town. This site is home to the steepest funicular railway in the world, the Katoomba Scenic Railway, which was originally built to facilitate coal and oil shale mining in the Jamison Valley. Scenic World also offers the Scenic Skyway cable car, which travels over an arm of the Jamison Valley and offers views of Katoomba Falls and Orphan Rock. In 2004 the original Skyway car was replaced by a new car with a liquid crystal panel floor, which becomes transparent while the car travels. In 1983 construction began at the site on a roller coaster called the Orphan Rocker; the track was completed, but this attraction has never been opened to the public.
Katoomba is served by hotels and guest-houses, the oldest of which is the Carrington Hotel, established in 1882 and occupying the highest point in town. The town centre, centered on Katoomba Street, features dozens of cafes and restaurants, including the Paragon which dates to the early 20th century, as well as a number of second-hand book and antique stores.
Katoomba was connected to the Main Western railway line in 1874, when the station was called "The Crushers". Katoomba railway station is now served by the Blue Mountains Line.
The Great Western Highway is the main road access route.
Katoomba Airfield is also located about 11.5 kilometres (7.1 mi) by road from the Katoomba Central Business District. The airfield is currently closed to airplanes and helicopters, but is available for use by emergency services.
Katoomba has a number of heritage-listed sites, including the following listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register:
The following are listed on other heritage registers: