Sir Henry Parkes, five-times premier of New South Wales, Father of Federation, Knight Grand Cross, and founder of free public education, admired the beauty, peace and fresh air of the Blue Mountains.
In 1876, Parkes bought 400 acres of land for £400, east of the Great Western Railway line. There, he built four houses, Stonehurst, Faulconbridge House (named for his mother), Moseley Cottage and Fern Dell.
Faulconbridge was the Parkes family's first real home as they had previously rented. His wife, Clarinda, remained there with daughters Annie and Lily but Parkes commuted, returning on weekends or travelling up by train with important guests they were hosting.
His official correspondence followed him. Mail-bags were first thrown off passing trains, then a platform was established for goods and people, eventually becoming Faulconbridge Railway station.
Parkes installed a Morse telegraph in his house operated firstly by a telegraphist and then by his daughter Annie, the early beginnings of the Post Office.
Two acres of Parkes' land were dedicated for a cemetery on March 31, 1880. Parkes, Clarinda and other family members are now buried there.
On Friday, January 22, 1881, the Princes Albert Victor Christian Edward and George (later George V) breakfasted at Faulconbridge on their trip to Lithgow Zig Zag. After breakfast, each prince planted a tree, Albert a Magnolia Grandiflora and George an Araucaria Cunninghamii (Sydney Mail 23,7,1881).
Parkes' property was landscaped. Tracks were carved through the bush, to the waterfalls and other places of interest.
Sydney newspapers often referred to Parkes as the "Knight of Faulconbridge". He is certainly the "Father of Faulconbridge".
Parkes also owned portions 42-48 of land in the Brasfort township, Wentworth Falls. In October, 1878, Armstrong, Fletcher, Backhouse, Pritchard and Parkes were named Trustees of the Wentworth Falls Reserve Trust. They appointed Peter Mulheran as first ranger, encouraging his building of the tracks and ladders in the Valley of the Waters.
In Coleridge (now Bullaburra), by 1879, Parkes owned most of the land south of the railway line, between Godfrey's Hill and Genevieve Road, naming Genevieve, De Quincey, Cottle and Christabel (now Boronia) Roads. He built a further residence in what is now Kalinda Road but the only tangible remainder of Parkes' time there is near Genevieve Road on the Great Western Highway: Sir Henry Parkes Park, a pine grove donated by Mr Swain, Forestry Commissioner in NSW, South Australia and Queensland.
In 1887, Parkes owned land in Faulconbridge valued at £19,000, Coleridge (Bullaburra- £2,000), Lawson (£1,300), Wentworth Falls (£3,000), the Valley (Valley Heights - £1,020) and two lots at Springwood (£600 and £1,600). He surrendered this land to cover his debts but still died, impoverished, in 1896.
- Robyne Ridge is publicity officer for Blue Mountains Historical Society.