|The Blue Mountains were initially just an obstacle to be crossed on the route from
Sydney to the western pastures & gold fields. Traveller's accommodation sprang up,
& shale mining commenced at Hartley Vale.
Then the railway
Tourism, made practical by the railway, quickly
became popular. Hotels & guesthouses sprang up,
along with recreational services & facilities.
Today, tourism is our major industry, with ecotourism gaining in popularity. Australia's
oldest tourist hotel is situated at Mt Victoria.
Mining & Oil
Mining rapidly expanded, with the opening of numerous coal
& shale mines, along with tramways to service them. Oil refineries were built near the
oil shale mines at Hartley Vale & Newnes. Today, mining is confined to coal in the
Lithgow region. The refineries are long gone.
Agriculture is restricted in the Blue Mountains, due to poor sandstone-based soils
& rugged terrain. However, in areas with good conditions, such as Bilpin & Shipley
Plateau, apples & other cool climate fruit are grown. The old Lapstone railway tunnel
serves as a mushroom farm.
Light industrial estates are located in Blaxland, Valley Heights, Springwood, Lawson,
Katoomba & also Lithgow.
Computer & Telecommunications Revolution
Telecommuting, programming, consulting & Internet-based occupations are
increasingly popular, with some courier companies classifying the Lower Mountains as
Sydney Metropolitan, & the City of Sydney being close enough for daily visits when
necessary. As the geographical centre of Sydney is at Granville (near Parramatta), the
Blue Mountains are closer to most of Greater Sydney than to the City of Sydney (the CBD).
Our first telecommuter was Sir Henry Parkes, who had a telegraph instrument installed
in his Faulconbridge home in the late 1800's.
Dubbed "City of the Arts", the Mountains have long held an attraction for
artists. Local artists include painters, photographers, sculptors, potters & much
more. Outlets range from community craft markets to plush galleries. Famous local artists
have included Norman Lindsay & Harry Phillips.