Exploring for Sir Henry Parkes
In Faulconbridge Cemetery, which is located in Sir Henry Parkes Drive just opposite the railway station on the southern side, is the grave of Sir Henry Parkes.
On the railing surrounding his grave is a plaque which describes his role in Australian history: 'Sir Henry Parkes, Father of Australian Federation, five times Prime Minister of New South Wales, arrived in Australia July 25, 1839, worked as station-hand, Customs Officer, bone and ivory turner. In 1850 became proprietor of Empire Newspaper. Member of New South Wales Parliament from 1854-1894, Sir Henry Parkes is especially remembered for his efforts to develop New South Wales Education and Railways and his work for Federation earned him his title Father of Federation.'
Prime Ministers' Corridor of Oaks
On Sir Henry's Parade (which runs between Springwood and Faulconbridge on the southern side of both the railway line and the highway) is Jackson Park, which is home to the Prime Ministers' Corridor of Oaks. Joseph Jackson, a NSW Member of Parliament, gave the park to the local council in 1933 with the explicit intention of having every Australian Prime Minister, or a nearest surviving relative, plant an oak tree. Jackson was a huge admirer of Henry Parkes and believed that his Corridor of Oaks was a suitable monument to the man most responsible for the federation of Australian states.
Norman Lindsay's House
Between Springwood and Faulconbridge (clearly signposted on the northern side of the Great Western Road) is one of the most famous attractions in the mountains - Norman Lindsay's house which has been converted into a gallery and museum.
Lindsay moved to the mountains in 1911. In 1912, after seeing it while riding down a woodcutters' track, he bought 17 hectares of land and the already-standing stone house at what is now 14 Norman Lindsay Crescent for ?500. Over the years Lindsay made the house a centre for artists and writers and it became a popular retreat.
The house and gardens are now owned by the National Trust who have preserved the gardens. Especially beautiful when the wisteria is in full bloom, they were used for the filming of the movie Sirens in the 1990s.
By any measure, local or international, Lindsay was a prodigious and highly original talent. His artistic skills ranged from cartoons through oil paintings and watercolours to statuary, model ship building, etchings, drawings in pen and pencil, novel writing, children's fiction, book illustration, furniture and pottery decoration. The house preserves examples of Lindsay's paintings, etchings, sculpture, illustrations, model ships and other memorabilia.
He was born in Creswick on the Victorian goldfields on 22 February 1879 and lived there until he was seventeen when he moved to Melbourne to work as a freelance black-and-white illustrator. Lindsay moved to Sydney in 1901 and, as a result of a fear of possible tuberculosis, moved to Leura in 1911. Apart from short periods in Sydney he spent the rest of his life in Faulconbridge.
When Lindsay died in 1969 (having spent nearly sixty years in the Blue Mountains) he left 16 watercolours, 17 oil paintings, 9 pen drawings and a good sample of his pen drawings, ship models and sculptures to the National Trust on the understanding that they would purchase the house at Faulconbridge and display the bequest.
The history of the house is one of constant evolution and change. When Lindsay bought it in 1912 it was falling in to disrepair. Lindsay repaired and changed it, purchased more land, built his art studio, constructed terraces and paths and placed statues in his large gardens. The beautifully presented Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum, published by the National Trust, provides specific details regarding all the changes.
The gallery is a delight. Lindsay's fleshy nudes and leering satyrs, his acerbic commentaries on the foibles and inhibitions of the bourgeoisie, his superb use of light, his delightful sense of 'naughty' humour, give all his paintings and pen sketches a continuing relevance. In style they don't belong to the twentieth century but in subject matter they are truly timeless.
Of course for most Australians there major contact with the work of Norman Lindsay is through The Magic Pudding which he wrote in 1917 and which has become a classic of children's literature. The gallery features illustrations from the book and puppets from the story.
The gallery's display of Lindsay's ship models (it owns 8 from a known production of 14) is perhaps its most important asset. The ships are extraordinary in their detail and craftsmanship. It is hard to imagine how Lindsay had time to complete these meticulous works while still producing vast quantities of paintings and drawings. The Gallery and Museum is open daily from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. and a cafe serves light lunches, tel: (02) 4751 1067.