Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Searching for Echoes in the Blue Mountains

Echo Point gardens 1964 (Blue Mountains Library, Local Studies Collection)

An Echo is a reflection of sound that arrives at the listener with a delay after the direct sound. The delay is proportional to the distance of the reflecting surface from the source and the listener. Typical examples are the echo produced by the bottom of a well, by a building, or by the walls of an enclosed room and an empty room. A true echo is a single reflection of the sound source.

Echo in  Greek mythology is a mountain nymph whose ability to speak was cursed, only able to repeat the last words anyone spoke to her. Some animals use echo for location sensing and navigation, such as cetaceans (dolphins and whales) and bats.

The human ear cannot distinguish an echo from the original direct sound if the delay is less than 1/10 of a second. The velocity of sound in dry air is approximately 343 m/s at a temperature of 25 °C. Therefore, the reflecting object must be more than 17.2m from the sound source for echo to be perceived by a person located at the source. When a sound produces an echo in two seconds, the reflecting object is 343m away. In nature, canyon walls or rock cliffs facing water are the most common natural settings for producing and hearing echoes. The strength of echo is frequently measured in dB sound pressure level (SPL) relative to the directly transmitted wave.

Cooee! (/ˈkuːiː/) is a shout used in Australia, usually in the bush, to attract attention, find missing people, or indicate one's own location. When done correctly—loudly and shrilly—a call of ‘Cooee’ can carry over a considerable distance. The distance one's Cooee call travels can be a matter of competitive pride. It is also known as a call of help, which can blend in with different natural sounds in the bush.

Cooee was among the first Aboriginal words taken into English by the First Fleeters, it comes from the Dharug word ‘guu-wii’, literally "come here", but the Europeans noted early in the piece that the Dharug used it as a shrill call to communicate over long distances. It was also the traditional call to test for an echo.

The word Cooee, has become a name of many organisations, places and even events. Perhaps the most historic of these was the Cooee March during the First World War. It was staged by 35 men from GilgandraNew South Wales, 766 km (476 mi) northwest of Sydney, as a recruiting drive after enthusiasm for the war waned in 1915 with the first casualty lists. They marched to Sydney calling ‘Cooee!’ to encourage others to come and enlist. A poster read ‘Coo-ee – Won't you come?’. When they reached Sydney on 12 December, the group had grown to 277. To this day, Gilgandra holds a yearly Cooee Festival in October to commemorate the event. Other Cooee Festivals occur across Australia.

Echoing Places

At North Lawson Park an Echo Point is located on Echo Bluff which is a headland between Dantes Glen and Frederika Falls overlooking the Empire Pass walking track. The Mountaineer newspaper reported in August 1896:

For some time past the Progress Committee has been engaged in opening up a new sight on the North side called Echo Point. A first class track has been made to the lookout which embraces a magnificent view of the gorge looking towards Mount Hay and Mount King George.

By March 1915 the Lawson attraction was well established as the Nepean Times reported in March:

 Lawson just now is quiet — an ordinary, but not an extraordinary number of visitors appearing. "Glow- worm" parties appear to be at a discount; black-berrying parties have also had their day and ceased to be. As a substitute, a walk in the moon-light to Echo Point has been suggested as the next best. Possibly given the walk, the moonlight, and the company, Echo Point, or any other given spot might be unnecessary.

Glenbrook also had its Echo Point, now known as Tunnel View Lookout. As the Nepean Times reported in January 1911, just prior to the opening of the new railway deviation:

A favourite spot, known as Echo Point, facing the well-known Bluff in Glenbrook Creek, is likely to be shortly resumed by the Government as an area for public use. This area, which comprises about 100 acres, is so situated that a glorious view of the mountains, of the Nepean, and of the picturesque country through which the new railway line will pass, can be enjoyed. The local Improvement Association has given the matter special attention, and it is within the bounds of likelihood that the area will shortly be gazetted as a reserve for public use. Mr Hall, Government surveyor, and his staff are installed at Glenbrook, and surveys are being made. It is not unlikely that a large area, including the beautiful Blue Pool (the local swimming bath and picnic spot) will be included with Echo Point in one large reservation.

There is a clear echo from this location which bounces off the Bluff Reserve on the opposite side of Glenbrook Gorge.  As shown by the above quote it was known as Echo Point prior to 1911.

Annie Wegner and friend at Double Echo Point Feb. 1934,
Hydro Majestic in background. (Photo Blue Mountains Library, Local Studies Collection) 

Double Echo Point is located on the Shipley plateau behind the original Shipley tea rooms and was first mentioned in the Blackheath Beacon newspaper in December 1930:

Another spot which lures the tourist to Blackheath is the famed Double Echo Point, which possesses two distinct echoes. From this point a magnificent view of the great Valley of Megalong, as well as a glimpse of the Hydro Majestic at Medlow, is obtainable.

The Shipley Tea Rooms were constructed about 1935 by Eric Longton. Eric was the eldest
son of Robert Longton, who had been one of the first settlers in the Shipley area in 1892. The Tea Rooms were in existence in 1928 and were redeveloped in 1933. Eric Longton
would almost certainly have been a member of the Shipley Progress Association that
attempted to develop a local tourism industry to sell jams and fruit to visitors. One of the
aims was to build tracks to 'sights' on the plateau, but these appear to have been fairly basic
constructions. The most impressive and successful one was to Double Echo Point, within
the grounds of the Tea Rooms.
Right through the upper Blue Mountains local entrepreneurs had built tea rooms near track
heads. In this case, it is almost certain that Longton would have built this track to attract
people to the tea room. The first located reference to Double Echo Point is from 1930. The
name of the lookout is an interesting reference to unusual acoustic properties of loud sounds
projected from the lookout, and may have also involved a wry reference to Katoomba's
[single] Echo Point.

In about 1996, the owner of the Shipley Tea Rooms erected a gate at the entrance to this
track, felled trees across it and erected 'keep out' signs. Safety considerations were cited as
the reason for closing the track.

Echoing Gully and creek is located in an known as Girraween between Valhalla Head and Thor Head, the creek flows north into the Grose River, Mount Victoria. It was named by George Brown and Stan McGaghey when bushwalking in the area in 1948.

The Echo Tree 1890, Henry King photo, courtesy MAAS 
The Echo Tree, with its associated lookout, was located on the Prince Henry Cliff Walk below the original kiosk above Leura Cascades, and near Kiah Lookout. About the time it was photographed by Henry King, the Katoomba Times of 1889 described it as: “the Echo Tree - On brow of Leura Falls.”

It even had poetry dedicated to it: The Daily Telegraph July 1900:
The Leura Falls,
Where gaily calls.
The Echo at the Tree -
'Tis Natures plan,
To teach a man
It's wrong to saucy be.

The Echo Point complex at Katoomba contains: a small cave within the first sister known as Echo Point Lookout, Echo Point Park now known as Echo Park, and the main lookout containing the Drum lookout (2003) which replaced a series of earlier lookouts above Queen Elizabeth Lookout - named in 1954 in connection with the Royal Tour, and the Projecting Platform - opened 1932.

The Projecting Platform, by Wal Green 1940s (Photo Blue Mountains Library, Local Studies Collection)
The descriptive name for the geographical feature Echo Point is shown in the 1894 Railway Guide map for the Katoomba district. In March 1892 The Katoomba Times reported that the municipal council had decided a track to Echo Point was to be made from Lurline Street. 

Ald. Goyder moved — "That an estimate be obtained of the cost of forming a track from the end of Lurline-street to Echo Point.
Ald. Mullany seconded. Carried.
Katoomba Times 1892

Maurice Skeen was employed on the maintenance staff of Katoomba Municipal Council about 1913 and carried out the original development of the lookout area. Many smaller lookout points, stairs. shelters and nooks were added over the years.

In the 1930s a number of cement picnic shelters were constructed above the main lookout and in the adjacent Echo Park. Formed by rendering layers of cement over a wire frame, they have survived remarkably well.  

The Echo's Pointed Absence
In 1993 the Sydney Morning Herald’s Column 8 asked whether 'Echo Point' was a misnomer.
The article charged that when a Herald colleague recently let out a hearty Cooee at Echo Point, the only response received was suspicion from all present.

A suggestion was made that the Echo Point Cooee has been replaced ". . .with the sound of giant tourist coaches running their air-conditioning, and until last week, joyflight helicopters."

John Low, of Springwood Library, said that the echoless Echo Point controversy is not new.
Mr Low said that the debate's last occurrence was in December, 1987.

He produced letters published in the Gazette during that time, showing numerous responses to a tourist's complaint in a Sydney newspaper regarding a distinct lack of echo at the point.
Television news crews and press journalists flocked to Katoomba to investigate and provide stories.

In the Blue Mountains Gazette of December 12, 1987, local tourist coach operator, John Cronshaw had likened an echo to a rainbow, which is visible only when certain physical circumstances occur. Mr Cronshaw wrote that the two most important factors at Echo Point are wind velocity and background noise.

The noise of traffic and people will drown out the sound of the echo, as will the comment,
'Did you hear that?'
‘The lack of background noise is crucial,’ wrote Mr Cronshaw. ‘Perhaps the BMTA should rename Echo Point to Frustration Point, and while they are doing that, change the name of the Blue Mountains to that of the Blue Valleys.’

Early Echo Point postcard,
(Photo Blue Mountains Library, Local Studies Collection)

On a humorous note, in 1998 the Sun-Herald published a letter from a correspondent  Ellis Glover of Waverton:

As I recall, Labor Premier Joe Cahill …when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Echo Point during their first Australian tour. Cahill's itinerary for the royals was to steer them to Labor-held electorates or, if they weren't held by Labor, to send one of his ministers as official greeter. Thus it was that on a perfect day, as the Queen and her party stepped off the special train at Katoomba station, they were greeted not by the mayor and his town clerk but by Education Minister Clive Evatt.

The mayor had lodged a protest when it was learned that Evatt would be the official greeter, but to no avail. Evatt then introduced the mayor and town clerk, wearing their robes of office. The official party then went by car to Echo Point, which was packed with thousands of schoolchildren and adults waving small Union Jacks.

A few paces behind the party walked Gordon Short, a senior photographer for The Sydney Morning Herald. The late ‘Shortie’ was the pool photographer for the day and I am indebted to him for this story.

As the party walked towards Echo Point, Evatt told the Queen: ‘Your Majesty, this area is noted for its echo. That is why it is called Echo Point.’
‘Not really,’ interjected the town clerk. ‘It is a bit of a misnomer, really. The echo here is not very good, actually.’
‘Rubbish,’ said Evatt and let off a loud ‘Cooee’.
His effort raised no response from Echo Point. He let go another ‘Cooee’.

Shortie, a few paces behind the royal party, decided to help out. After a studied pause, he replied to Evatt's effort with a sotto voce ‘Cooee’.
‘There, did you hear that?’ he asked everyone.

The Queen and the Duke looked at each other and grinned. Evatt let another one go and Shortie obliged after a studied delay. Evatt could not contain himself. He Cooeed another four or five times and Shortie obliged on each occasion. Evatt was beside himself- and so were the other members of the party.” Sun-Herald 15/3/1998

The final word goes to Local historian Jim Smith, who wrote to the Blue Mountains Gazette in December 16, 1987.

"The apparent lack of an echo at Katoomba's Echo Point has been a subject of comment for at least three quarters of a century.

In an hilarious article in The Daily Telegraph of 1922, Bulletin cartoonist Hal Eyre described his attempts to get an echo there. He ‘had never met anyone who had actually had a reply.’ He ‘had the impression that it was just a name given to create interest; that it was an illusion.’

There was ‘hearsay evidence aplenty but no one in the presence of a witness had tested it and received a reply.’ Eventually Eyre's cabby, Blue Mountains poet Harry Peckman was asked to demonstrate.

Peckman ‘emitted a Cooee in a shrill tone, surprising in its volume and clarity.’ Eventually there was a reply ‘faint but clear’ — ‘in a feminine voice.’

Eyre concluded: ‘There is a genuine echo in proper working order, which answers back in a weird uncanny voice.’

In 1934 the Katoomba Daily carried this advice:

One often hears the complaint that the name, Echo Point, is a misnomer, owing to the failure of tourists to evoke an echo with their Cooees and shouts. The truth is that the echo at this spot is one of the most remarkable in the world. It is necessary to face the west, then give a long, loud Cooee and wait patiently. Perhaps two minutes later, faint but distinct, echo returns from the depths of Kanimbla Valley beyond the intervening Narrow Neck promontory.

The local historian Jim Smith wrote in 1987: 
Two minutes is an awfully long time to the impatient tourist of today.
More immediate gratification and considerably louder echoes can be had at numerous other points. Few tourists know of the other Echo Point in North Lawson Park. The echo here is far more impressive than Katoomba's.
How many of today's walkers know of the Echo Tree Lookout below the Fork 'n' View restaurant, once the grail of echo seekers.
My personal favourite echo is found along the Pinnacles track out towards the Grose from Mt Hay Road. Here a Cooee sent facing towards the head of the Grose River is thrown back over your shoulder from the opposite direction.
Echo connoisseurs will no doubt continue to shout from the clifftops. Perhaps as their ears strain for their reply, they may hear something more significant than the sound of their own voices." BMG 16/12/1987
The Cooee call itself is now heard less and less in the bush. As the historian Richard White has noted:
Federation seized on a word that symbolically encompassed the whole of Australia, and its popularity rose to the point where there were calls for three cheers to be replaced with three 'coo-ees'. In the First World War, the number of coo-ee songs swelled as it joined the chorus of recruitment numbers and ballads reminding troops of home. 
In the decades that followed, 'coo-ee' became something of an echo of its former self. Its place in everyday language declined, and it's not clear whether coming generations will give voice to the word. However some exceptions can be heard, suggesting it's a call close to the hearts of many in their relationship with family and land.

John Merriman, Local Studies Librarian, 2018

References & Further Reading

Blue Mountains Geographical Dictionary, Brian Fox 2006


Echo Point in Dictionary of Sydney by Delia Falconer 2016 -


BEAUTIFUL BLACKHEATH (1930, December 11). The Blackheath Bulletin (Katoomba, NSW : 1926; 1929 - 1931), p. 1. Retrieved May 3, 2018, from

Courageous Rescue (1949, August 31). Barrier Daily Truth (Broken Hill, NSW : 1908; 1941 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from

Glenbrook (1911, January 21). Nepean Times (Penrith, NSW : 1882 - 1962), p. 3. Retrieved April 27, 2018, from

IN SUSPENSE (1932, March 26). The Katoomba Daily (NSW : 1920 - 1939), p. 1. Retrieved July 20, 2018, from

KATOOMBA. (1889, November 16). Katoomba Times (NSW : 1889 - 1894), p. 4. Retrieved May 4, 2018, from

Katoomba Municipal Council. (1892, March 4). Katoomba Times (NSW : 1889 - 1894), p. 3. Retrieved May 4, 2018, from

Lawson. (1896, August 14). The Mountaineer (Katoomba, NSW : 1894 - 1908), p. 3. Retrieved April 27, 2018, from

Lawson (1915, March 6). Nepean Times (Penrith, NSW : 1882 - 1962), p. 3. Retrieved April 27, 2018, from

Original Poetry. (1900, July 20). The Mountaineer (Katoomba, NSW : 1894 - 1908), p. 2. Retrieved May 4, 2018, from

ON THE HILLS (1922, September 26). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1883 - 1930), p. 4. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from

QUEEN WAS DELIGHTED WITH BLUE MOUNTAINS (1954, February 13). Daily Examiner (Grafton, NSW : 1915 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Dr John Spark, (1853-1910) Katoomba’s First Doctor

Dr Spark’s official Katoomba Municipal Council photo 1893. Image courtesy Blue Mountains Historical Society
John Spark was born at Twickenham, Middlesex on August 8th, 1853, where his father held an extensive medical practice. John was the eldest son of a family of eight born to John and Emma née Pool, and with his sister Fanny, were the only survivors of childhood. At the age of 14, he lost his father, and was trained for the medical profession by his father's friends. He showed aptitude, and at the age of 18 was dispensing for a doctor with a large city practice.

Dr Spark, Lic. Soc. Apoth. Lond. 1875, M.R.C.S. Eng. 1875, trained at St Bartholomew's Hospital, gained the Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries and was admitted Member of the Royal College of Surgeons. Later, at High Holborn, he conducted the city branch of a prominent West End doctor's practice, retaining the position for over seven years. He then went to Devonshire for a year, but the climate not suiting him, he took several trips to Australia and South America. Aged 30, he arrived in Australia as ship’s surgeon on the Lusitania in 1884, and within a year had established himself in Katoomba, being the only medical practitioner on the Mountains at the time (Obituary. 5 March 1910, Blue Mountain Echo).

According to the marriage certificate, in 1893  aged 39, John Spark married Johanna Cashman, 24, at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney. She was a farmer’s daughter from Co. Cork Ireland. They went on to have seven children, all born in Katoomba. They were: Iris 1895, James 1897, Beatrice 1899, John 1900, Joan 1904, Edward 1905, Sheila 1907. 

In 1889 he advertised that he had moved to ‘St. Cyrus’ opposite the Carrington Hotel, near Katoomba Station, where he could be consulted daily. He could also be consulted at: Lawson at the Blue Mountain Inn on Wednesdays at 3 p.m., Wentworth Falls at Mr Gale's Store on Wednesdays at 4 p m and Blackheath at Victoria House on Thursdays at 11.30 a.m. Although his headstone reads SPARKE, he signed his name SPARK and his newspaper advertisement used the latter spelling.
The illuminated address presented to Dr Spark on his retirement, image courtesy of Ted Watts 
Described as a dapper and precise man, he was widely read and cultured, very kind and skilled as a doctor. He was instrumental in having the telephone service brought to Katoomba in 1899 and served as an alderman on Katoomba Municipal Council, Feb. 1893 – Feb 1899 and was elected Mayor, Feb. 1894 - Feb. 1895. He was appointed a Government Medical Officer and the President of the School Board as well as President and one of the founders of the School of Arts. He was a member of the Rifle Club, of which he was President 1898-1903, and was also a JP and served as a magistrate.

The name Dr Spark appears on many birth and death certificates of the time and in numerous newspaper reports of accidents and serious illness. In March 1902 he attended the death of Henry Cole who died from concussion after his horse bolted outside the Railway Hotel. Dr Spark also attended Henry’s daughter, Ruby Cole, who died aged eight in1910 after being kicked in the head by a horse outside her home in Clissold Street, Katoomba; Ruby was the step daughter of Ranger James McKay, builder of the Giant Stairway at Echo Point.

Dr Spark died age 56 on 1 March 1910, at his home, ‘Twickenham Villa’, Katoomba Street, Katoomba, leaving a wife and seven children. His obituary describes him as: ‘a professional man he will ever be remembered and loved, especially by the poor, to whom he was ever kind and thoughtful’. The funeral cortege was the largest ever seen on the Mountains and the cedar coffin with silver mountings, covered with magnificent wreaths, was led by local school children to the Anglican section of Katoomba cemetery where the service was conducted by  Rev JFS Russell according to the rights of the Church of England. The white marble headstone is an open book signifying the pages left unwritten. The ashes of his eldest son, James Hubert, who died in Melbourne in 1959, are also interred in the grave. John Sparke earned the love and esteem of his local community, to be remembered as “One of Katoomba’s noblest citizens” (obituary, 1910).

Dr Spark’s son Edward (Ted) Spark, who attended the Sisters of Charity School in Katoomba with his siblings, won  an exhibition from St Joseph’s College, Sydney and entered medical school at Sydney University, becoming in 1929 at the age of 23, the first Katoomba boy to become a doctor, incidentally winning the university prize for obstetrics (Blue Mountains Star, 1929).

Mrs Joanna Spark died at her residence in Bondi on 23 July 1931. She was described as ‘the widow of the late Dr. John Spark, formerly of Katoomba, and mother of Dr. E. Spark, of Bondi. A devoted Catholic, constant in the discharge of her religious duties, and charitable to the poor. Three sons and four daughters survive to mourn their loss, and great sympathy goes out to them in their sad bereavement. A Requiem Mass was celebrated for the repose of her soul at St. Patrick's Church, Bondi, Rev. Father John O'Farrell being the celebrant. The funeral left the home for Waverley Cemetery, accompanied by Rev. Father J. O'Farrell, who recited the last prayers at the graveside in the presence of the sorrowing relatives and a large number of friends.’ (Catholic Press, Thursday 13 August 1931, page 14)

Studio portrait of Dr Spark, image courtesy of Ted Watts 

Notes on Qualifications

M.R.C.S. = Member of the Royal College of Surgeons
Lic. Soc. Apoth. Lond. = Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries.

In addition to providing qualifications in, and regulation of, the trade of the apothecary and dispensing, the Apothecaries' Society offered primary medical qualifications until 1999. This began after the 1815 Apothecaries' Act, followed by further Acts of Parliament. The title of the original licence was Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries (LSA).

When the General Medical Council was established by statute in 1858, the LSA became a registrable qualification. From 1885, the examination included surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, which were required by law following the Medical Act of 1886, and in 1907 the title was altered by parliamentary act to LMSSA to reflect this. The Society ceased to be recognised by the General Medical Council as a provider of primary medical qualifications in 2008, although it had rarely issued any licences since 1999, the year the United Examining Board was abolished.

Notable people who qualified in medicine as a Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries (LSA) include the poet John Keats (1816), Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1865, thereby becoming the first openly female recipient of a UK medical qualification) and Nobel Prize winner Sir Ronald Ross KCB FRS (1881).

All full members of the Society or Guild, both terms are used, become Freemen of the City of London.


Correspondence with John Spark, a descendant of Dr Spark.


“Beyond the Vale – Dr John Spark” (obituary), Blue Mountains Echo (newspaper) 5 Mar 1910.

Blue Mountains Municipal Council, Register of Aldermen”. John Low, Blue Mountains City Library.

“Dr John Spark”, newspaper advertisements, The Mountaineer (newspaper), various: 1895 - 1900.

“Local Boy’s Success, First Doctor from Katoomba”, Blue Mountains Star (newspaper), 13 Sep 1929.

“Local Government Management and the Doctor, the contribution of Dr John Spark to the Municipality of Katoomba”. EW Watts, typescript in Local Studies files, later published by the author.

“The Mountains as a Health Resort, a medical man’s experience”. Dr John Spark, The Sydney Mail Saturday, December 12, 1896.

Our Past Blue Mountaineers: Katoomba Cemetery transcriptions. Blue Mountains Family History Society, 1996.   


DEATH OF DR. SPARK. (1910, March 1). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 5. Retrieved June 26, 2018, from

JOHN SPARK. (1910, March 5). Nepean Times (Penrith, NSW : 1882 - 1962), p. 6. Retrieved June 26, 2018, from

Memorial to Dr. John Spark. (1910, March 12). The Blue Mountain Echo (NSW : 1909 - 1928), p. 4. Retrieved June 26, 2018, from

Mrs. Johanna Spark. (1931, August 13). The Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1942), p. 14. Retrieved June 26, 2018, from


Newspaper Articles

Beyond the Vale. Dr. John Spark.
'Tis with feelings of deepest regret that we chronicle a visitation from the Grim Reaper, who took as His toll the soul of one of Katoomba's noblest citizens — Dr. John Spark, a gentleman who, for nearly a quarter of a century, faithfully tendered to the medical comforts of residents of this district, and who, during that term, was in the van of every movement having for its object the welfare of the advancement of the Mountains. The news of his death, which occurred early on Tuesday morning, shed a mantle of heavy gloom over the whole township. Deep and sincere regret was expressed in all circles, the consensus of opinion being that ' one of the best' had gone to the bourne that knoweth no return.

Some two years ago deceased sustained a paralytic stroke, from which he never properly recovered. Robbed of his old-time vitality and energy, the doctor of late was only a shadow of his former self, but, although in a weak state, the news of his sudden death came as a shock to his legion of friends. The funeral, which left his late residence, Twickenham Villa, on Wednesday after- noon, was the largest ever seen on the Mountains. All business premises were closed out of respect, and the cortege, which was headed by the school children, was the emblematical of the love and esteem in which deceased was held.

The preacher advised all to look forward, as deceased did, to the brighter happiness of a higher sphere of life, and rejoice at his attainment to it. While in the flesh, deceased always took a very keen interest in all that was to the advancement of his fellow citizens. He worked hard, under severe physical disability, in all that was for the welfare of the community. He concluded by stating that it remained for those left behind, as far as was in their power, to do what they could to make the lives of those who were under his immediate care, prosperous and happy. The coffin was covered with magnificent wreaths from all places along the Mountains, and many a tear was shed as the coffin was lowered from sight. In 1885, the late Dr. Spark was granted the Freedom of the City of London.
Beyond the Vale. (1910, March 5). The Blue Mountain Echo (NSW : 1909 - 1928), p. 7. Retrieved July 12, 2018, from

The Late Dr. Spark
On the first of last March there passed away at Katoomba one of the most patriotic and philanthropic citizens who has ever lived on the Blue Mountains. Ever ready to sacrifice his health and comfort to minister to the wants of his fellow-beings, no sordid considerations dared to obtrude themselves when the cry of pain or distress reached his ears.

Though never of robust constitution, for more than twenty years he braved the rigors of many severe winters, and no path was ever too dark or too perilous, and no sufferer too insignificant when there was a chance of bringing relief to the afflicted. Well might it be said of him, in the words of the poet that it was his highest wish – ‘To learn the luxury of doing good.’ Indeed, it was the only luxury that Dr. Spark seemed to care for. His purse was as ready to assist the sufferers as his soul was to pity them, and his large-hearted charity endeared him to many a poor creature ‘fallen by the wayside’.

 In all matters for the advancement of the town and district, he was untiring in his efforts. It would be hard to say how much the intellectual, the social and the sporting sides of our life are indebted to him. His guiding hand can be traced in many of our institutions, and many of the ‘old hands’ are never tired of quoting him as an authority on the subject that lies nearest to their hearts. Without doubt, they are right. A great reader and a deep thinker, he was ever ready to help with any knotty problem that was brought to him for solution, and it was an intellectual treat to spend an hour with him in discussing any interesting subject. At those times, not-withstanding his bodily infirmities, his eyes would sparkle and his humour be-come irresistible when recounting some reminiscence or story with which to clinch his point. Time seemed to fly all too fast when the Doctor was in a story-telling mood.

A few weeks after his death, some of his friends met in public meeting, and decided, among other things, to erect a suitable memorial over his grave. This has now been accomplished. The execution of the work was entrusted to Mr Rose, of Wollongong, and he has carried out his work to the satisfaction of the commit-tee The design is simple and chaste, and such as the Doctor himself would choose. It is in book form, and bears, the following inscription:

‘Sacred to the Memory of Dr. JOHN SPARK, M.R.C.S., who departed this life at Katoomba on 1st March, 1910, aged 56 years. At Rest.’ On the pedestal is inscribed: ‘Erected by his numerous friends in token of their esteem, and in recognition of sterling services to the town of Katoomba.’

For many a year to come those who have experienced his sympathy and generosity will linger by that simple little monument, and recall with reverence the noble and unselfish life which endeared Dr. Spark to all who came in contact with him. May the Mountain winds against which he battled so bravely, on many an errand of mercy, sigh gently over his grave! And may his good example inspire all of us to do whatever we can to help the suffering! Vale ! Dr. Spark. Vale !

Blue Mountain Echo (NSW : 1909 - 1928), Saturday 19 November 1910, page 10

Mrs. Johanna Spark.
Mrs. Johanna Spark, a well-known and highly-esteemed resident of Bondi, died at her residence, 54 Imperial Avenue, Bondi, on Thursday, 23rd ult. She was the widow of the late Dr. John Spark, formerly of Katoomba, and mother of Dr. E. Spark, of Bondi. Mrs. Spark was a devoted Catholic, constant in the discharge of her religious duties, and charitable to the poor. Three sons and four daughters survive to mourn their loss, and great sympathy goes out to them in their sad bereavement. A Requiem Mass was celebrated for the repose of her soul at St. Patrick's Church, Bondi, Rev. Father John O'Farrell being the celebrant. The funeral left the home for Waverley Cemetery, accompanied by Rev. Father J. O'Farrell, who recited the last prayers at the graveside in the presence of the sorrowing relatives and a large number of friends. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. W. N. Bull. — E.I.P.
Catholic Press (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1942), Thursday 13 August 1931, page 14

John Merriman, Local Studies Librarian, Blue Mountains City Library, 2018.

The Plucky Rescuer – the story of Hindman Street, Katoomba

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