Crowds greet the Queen in 1954

Sixty-six years ago, in the summer of 1954, the nation was eager to greet its new, young Queen. On Friday February 12, at 3.40pm, having travelled from Bathurst and Lithgow, the Royal Party arrived at Katoomba railway station, freshly painted blue for the occasion.

An estimated crowd of 75,000 lined the streets of Katoomba for the Royal procession to Echo Point where the civic reception was held on the edge of the 450-metre drop into the spectacular Jamison Valley.

The streets and houses along the route were highly decorated, many houses having been freshly repainted. The Blue Mountains Advertiser ran a competition for the best decorated home and garden along the royal route; this was won by the Hon Mr and Mrs Suttor of Lurline Street.

School children had all gone to school that morning as there was no holiday. They were given flags and medals and were taken by their teachers to their designated spot along the royal route. Children from other villages had travelled to Katoomba by an earlier train so that they, too, could see their Queen.

Echo Point was packed with people: scouts, girl guides, air cadets, RAAF personnel and the public, including 97-year-old Mrs E A Smith who had lived in the Mountains since she was a child. The aldermen and their wives were there, too, but they had foregone the pleasure of being introduced to the Queen so that she could have as much time as possible to enjoy the view.

It took the Mayor, Alderman Murphy, less than five minutes to get through the formalities, including presenting the Queen with a morocco-bound book of coloured Blue Mountains photographs by Frank Hurley.

The Queen replied: "My mother has often told me of the rare beauty of this mountain country, and today I have been delighted with it myself. The photographs you have given me will always serve to remind me of this happy day. I shall certainly show them to my children and, when they see them, I feel sure they will wish to visit you themselves."

Then, a 13-year-old Legacy ward, Rosemary Barrow of Leura, gave the Queen a bouquet of Blue Mountains wildflowers, white with red Mountain devils.

At this point, breaking protocol, the Mayor invited the Queen to walk to the lower level to enjoy the view. She accepted and they walked down. The Queen leant on the barrier, looking at the "glorious sight". At that moment, the sun broke through the overcast sky.

The Royal Party then left Echo Point, driving slowly through packed streets to Leura Station where they re-joined their train for Sydney.