New book on history of Hassans Walls Reserve

Author Keith Painter sits beside stonework of the 1916 Heffernans Pass. The lost clifftop track was rediscovered just before the photo was taken by Brian Fox. The Pass was named after Benjamin Alfred Heffernan, who surveyed the track when he was Blaxland Shire engineer. Later in the 1920s and 30s he was Blue Mountains Shire Engineer.

Author Keith Painter sits beside stonework of the 1916 Heffernans Pass. The lost clifftop track was rediscovered just before the photo was taken by Brian Fox. The Pass was named after Benjamin Alfred Heffernan, who surveyed the track when he was Blaxland Shire engineer. Later in the 1920s and 30s he was Blue Mountains Shire Engineer.

Former Blue Mountains resident Keith Painter has published a new book documenting the history of the Hassans Walls Reserve at Lithgow.

The Hassans Walls Lookout is the highest in the Blue Mountains at 1130 metres and has the most extensive view, from Mount Lambie in the west to Mount Tomah in the northeast.

n 2014 the Lithgow City Council opened the Sir Joseph Cook Boardwalk at the lookout which makes it easy for everyone to enjoy the view.

The book, Hassans Walls - Prized and Pillaged, was launched at Lithgow Library recently by Cr Maree Statham, former mayor of Lithgow, who had played a part in getting the book started.

The 160 page book has been written and compiled by Bathurst resident Keith Painter (formerly of Leura and Lawson), well known in the Blue Mountains for his previous books which include a series of eight bushwalking guides covering Blue Mountains walking tracks and two books on Mount Victoria’s 1920s chert industry.

The first part of the Hassans Walls Reserve dates back to 1882 when the escarpment above the Forty Bends area of what is now the Great Western Highway was reserved for public recreation. Trustees were appointed in 1892. 

In 1898 a regazettal of the reserve inadvertently cancelled the trust. A few years later in 1907 the Blaxland Shire Council (based at Wallerawang) took on the role of trustee and had an arrangement with the Lithgow Progress Association for this organisation to develop facilities on the reserve.

In March 1917 a rearrangement of controlling trusts for Blue Mountains Reserves took place and a new Hassans Walls Trust was formed.

Hassans Walls - Prized and Pillaged tells the story of Hassans Walls through 93 topics covering many named features, including Sandford Cave, Hoskins Cave, Gannon Cave, Anzac Ridge, Heffernans Pass and Rutherford Glen.

Former editor of The Lithgow Mercury, Len Ashworth OAM, said: “This is far more than a dry essay on geological features and the people who opened up the escarpment for public appreciation.

“It is also a fascinating social history of the community from the early 1900s and the level of Keith’s research in unearthing little known detail is a tribute to his tireless dedication.

“Hassans Walls is one of the most spectacular natural jewels of the Greater Blue Mountains; it is also the most neglected. It truly has been more pillaged than prized.”

The book can be purchased at The Turning Page in Springwood; Lamdha Books in Wentworth Falls; Megalong Books in Leura; the Newsagency, Gleebooks, and NPWS at Blackheath; Piccolo Cafe in Mount Victoria; or online through www.mountainmistbooks.com.

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