Glenbrook's Parks and Reserves - an historical perspective
On May 12, 1813, Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth climbed Lapstone Hill (by what precise route is uncertain) passed through what is now Glenbrook Park and camped near a swamp at the south eastern corner if what is now Glenbrook Oval; and unconscious of it at the time, sounded the death knell of the Daruk people for whom the Blue Mountains had been home for many millennium.
Little trace remains to-day of the people who had lived and hunted through the open forests of the mountains - some rock carvings in a good state of preservation and some vestiges of their art in caves within the Blue Mountains National Park, the best known is the Red Hands Cave.
History, for the white settlers who's dispossessed them, began with that historic crossing of the seemingly impenetrable barrier to the west in 1813.
After the explorers came the road-builders: Lieutenant William Cox and his 30 hand-picked "well inclined hardy" convicts with eight soldiers as guards-cum-overseers, began the first road across the Blue Mountains on Jul 18, 1814. It was completed in six months a remarkable feat of engineering.
It is probable that this road crossed Glenbrook Park fro near Lucasville Road to the diagonally opposite corner (Great Western Highway and Ross Street) then to near the present site of the Glenbrook Bowling Club and on to Glenbrook Lagoon, where the road-building depots was established.
The original road was supplanted when the road through Mitchesll"s Pass was opened in 1833. On this pass is the famous Lennox Bridge, built across Lapstone Creek by immigrant stonemason David Lennox. It is the oldest bridge on the Australian mainland and carried all road traffic for 93 years.
Few permanent settlers made a home in Glenbrook until the coming of the railway.
The first zig zag railway and the Lapstone Viaduct (the bridge across Kapsack Gully on Lapstone Hill, new part of the Highway) was built by John Whitton in 1865, and in 1867 a water tank was built to water the stream trains at their first stop on the mountains. Water was piped from Glenbrook Lagoon. The three brick pillars which supported the tank can be seen beside the highway in front of Glenbrook Native Plant Reserve.
The name of the station was Wastertank; but in 1874 it was renamed Wascoe Siding in honor of John Wascoe, mine host of the Pilgrim Inn, where the three original roads met a little farther up the hill.
The name was short-lived. In 1878 it became Brookdale, which had an even shorter life-span, for only a year later it was given the name Glenbrook, which has managed to survive.
Glenbrook was proclaimed a village on March 20, 1885 and Glenbrook Park was set aside for public use in the same year. The Railway Guide of 1886 reported that "numerous country residences have been erected which provide a cool and quiet retreat for busy city workers IN the summertime. Glenbrook is well laid out and the provision of wild reserves will it time make this place very attractive.
Some of the fine sandstone houses built in the village in the 1880's were the work of stonemasons Dunn & Ross, who quarried the stone locally. Some of their descendants still live here. It was John Dunn who built the stone pillars at the entrance to Glenbrook Park.
Both Glenbrook Park and Glenbrook Oval were dedicated on August 21, 1897, as "reserves for public recreation"
In the Green Street and Park Street corner of Glenbrook Park the first School of Arts was built in 1090. It was designed by John Buckeridge, later to make his name in Queensland for church architecture. The building was destroyed by fire in the 1920s.
During the first decade of the 20th Century, the double-track railway ran along the present highway beside Glenbrook Park. In 1910 a brick railway station was built between the tow sets of rails. It was dismantled and re-built on its present site when the Glenbrook Gorge deviation was completed in 1913.
The first tennis courts were built in Glenbrook by Colin Smith around 1915.
Glenbrook began to attract artistic and literary people from early in this century. By the 1920 an Artistic Literary Circle was well established in the village and enjoyed recognition far and beyond its asrea. The literary Inistitue was opened in December, 1927 at its present site - the Glenbrook Theatre.
The main highway to the west, by-passing Glenbrook through Mitchell's Pass since 1833, was re-roughed in 1926. The Main Roads Board chose the route of the old railway line as the new road and it remains substantially the same today. - over the old viaduct, through the old railway cuttings (many of which have been widened), right over the site of the old railway station. The avenue of Pineoakes (Quercus palustris) lining the highway at Glenbrook were planted by the Urban Area Committee ( a predecessor of the local council) to mark the opening of the highway.
In 1956, a baby health centre was opened in Glenbrook Park and, in the same year, Whitton Park (shown on early maps as Glenbrook Gardens) was dedicated for public recreation.
The Glenbrook Native Plant Reserve was dedicated in 1967. Running parallel to the highway beside Glenbrook Park was a little, unsealed street know as Hamment Street, named for one of the earliest settlers in the village. In 1982, this street was incorporated into the area of the park. The traffic lay by at the tourist information directory board is all that remains of the street and has been named Hamment Place.
The Tourist Information Centre was built in 1985 and was opened in 1986. An inspection of the park by and expert panel at about this time resulted in the recommendation that Glenbrook Park be listed as being historical and natural significance; a recommendation was adopted.
As Glenbrook Parks and Reserves Advisory Committee Secretary Mrs. Lilian Erskine said Recently: "Perhaps Glenbrook will remain a village 'well laid out' and with 'wild reserves' to provide a cool and quiet retreat for busy city workers'. We must do our best to keep it so.
This Article was taken from Archives of Glenbrook Village Fifth Annual Yesteryear Spring Festival November 14,15, 1987 Program Author Unknown.