Inaugural Blue Mountains Heritage Forum Success

Local heritage enthusiasts and experts enjoyed a day of talks, workshops and walks at the inaugural Blue Mountains Heritage Forum.
The winning image 'Lady in White' by Rose Burgess

The event – held on Saturday, 27 April at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Katoomba – was coordinated by members of Council’s Heritage Service and held as part of the National Trust’s Australian Heritage Festival.

The theme for the forum, ‘Heritage Around Us’, was explored in a myriad of ways across a diverse program. The keynote address, ‘The Lure of the Local’ was delivered by Dr Siobhan Lavelle OAM, a member of the Blue Mountains Heritage Advisory Committee. The Committee provides advice and support to Council on heritage matters and initiated the Blue Mountains Heritage Forum.

Other talks enjoyed that day covered topics including the adaptive reuse of Woodford Academy, the conservation of Everglades House in Leura, heritage interpretation in the Blue Mountains and advice on how property owners can research their buildings’ rich histories. The program also included stalls and displays from heritage organisations and associations and a guided Katoomba heritage walking tour.

A highlight of the day’s proceedings was the announcement of the winners of the Blue Mountains Heritage Forum photography competition for kids and young people. Entrants submitted a range of outstanding representations of the ‘Heritage around us’ to be judged by local artists.

The winners are:

  • Primary School Students (years K-6) – Maia Bateman, 11 years old, winning image: The Gully Katoomba
  • High School Students (years 7-12) – Rose Burgess, 14 years old, winning image: Lady in White
  • Young people (18 – 25 years and do not attend school) – Holly Kustro, 21 years old, winning image: Katoomba’s Hidden Art.

Rose Burgess, who submitted her photo depicting the Woodford Academy Lady in White, said of her image: “The Woodford Academy is the oldest building in the Blue Mountains. It has nearly 200 years of colonial stories overlayed on thousands of years of first nation stories.

“One of these stories is about the lady in white, who wanders the grounds at night. She is thought to be the ghost of Mary James who lived next to the Woodford Academy when it was built in the 1830s. I wanted to capture the surreal and ghostly effect of Mary’s apparition by using controlled lighting and slow shutter speeds to recreate the effect.”

The Forum was opened by Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill OAM, who said: “The Blue Mountains is home to many items and places of rich heritage significance that offer insights into our culture and are distinct to our local identity. We are renowned for the historic character of many of our towns and villages that, along with our unique wilderness, draw visitors from all over the world.

“Council proudly takes responsibility in recognising and preserving our community’s heritage and culture, underpinned by our deep respect and commitment to the places that define our sense of home.

“We are custodians of this heritage, keepers of these stories, and it is our responsibility to preserve and share this history with future generations.

“Heritage is highly valued by the Blue Mountains community, and this is reflected by the enthusiastic response to this Forum, from the support and participation of heritage experts and organisations to the attendees who quickly made it a successful event.”

The National Trust Australian Heritage Festival runs from 18 April to 19 May in NSW. For more information visit

Photo: The winning image ‘Lady in White’ by Rose Burgess, who won the High School Students category in the Blue Mountains Heritage Forum photography competition.

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