Bulli and her sisters: A 1934 tourist guide

tourist bulli lokkout 1930

(By M.M.A.)

The Bulli MIne Disaster monument in the 1930s
The Bulli Mine Disaster monument in the 1930s

What wonderful charm is found around old Bulli! That town so well-known to travellers guarding carefully its wonderful trump card, the famous Bulli Pass. 

As the years glide on Bulli has grown old gracefully and in mature stage is more beautiful than of yore. Standing on a rise, the little town, with its every day life, is an animated spot so far as tourist traffic is concerned. Every shop is busy with its trade. Those far off lands never fail to halt at Bulli, for there is some  magnet attached to a place that can  boast of such a picturesque gem leading into the heart of its town.

After seeing the famous Pass one wants to see the town of the same name, and so its transpires that tourists hover around Bulli and affectionately remember its environs years afterwards. Bulli town, with its new shops and post office, its excellent park, and pretty beach, hemmed in by the high mountain range, is unique in its lovely setting.The War memorial, though hidden away a-bit, is nevertheless there to satisfy over-sea travellers that Bulli is loyal to her war heroes.The imposing memorial erected in memory of the dead, lost in the fatal colliery disaster pulls one in with a start, as one reads the appalling number of lives lost in that terrible calamity years back.

The old Bulli railway station no longer has its coaches and odd conveyances awaiting trains as in the past. There is a loneliness about the station house and grounds that would only be felt by a wandered who, having been far afield still retains affectionate memories, and foolishly expects on his return to “see things as they used to be.” Nevertheless, the life still abounds in Bulli, but it is of a different nature now. The speed car and service car on Main Road take the place of the old coaches. Verdant patches here and there surround Bulli, little creeks wind in and put, and the stock group themselves about making the most delightful pictures.  

Old Bulli showing the former post office (extreme left), and the old Bank buildings (the original in the centre, and the later, on the right). These buildings were all located at the northern corner of Hobart STreet and the Princes Highway.
Old Bulli showing the former post office (extreme left), and the old bank buildings (the original in the centre, and the later, on the right). These buildings were all located at the northern corner of Hobart Street and the Princes Highway.

Leaving old Bulli town and following the road leading up the Pass, the old post office and store, of say over 50 years ago, is still to be seen with its crude slit in the wall for receiving mail, and its little wooden window, out of which small space a big business was done at one time. The old store building, with its wide balcony, and spacious rooms once so far famed for wonderful hospitality, and enormous pulsating business life now carries on in more subdued tones. Here still the tourist may halt and have a meal, a nice, or sweet, but the old spirit depicting a flourishing business is seemly dead. But it is pleasing to note that this once grand old store still retain its dignity, and even in spite of weathering many gales can still serve the public efficiently.

Another old land mark opposite is Fry’s store, and this business seems as alive and fresh to-day as it was over 50 year ago. The old bank has closed down, so has the old blacksmith’s anvil ceased its ring, but the school with its changing youth, still continues on.

Ascending the Pass and admiring the pretty cottage-homes along the way one soon leaves this grim world below and is lifted up into a kingdom of fern and trees. Up, up, one climbs, making way through the most fantastic tangle of growth imaginable.The old ‘Wishing Pool, once so ferny and irregular, is now stylish with its neat surround of cement; and so onwards the most perfect road in the world invites one to travel through Paradise.

The Bulli Pass wishing well before it was
The Bulli Pass wishing well before it was “concreted” in the 1920s.

The first look-out is reached at an altitude of over 1,000 feet, and when one realises that this enchanting spot is not more than four miles from Bulli, one feels the graceful beauty of the scene too good to be true, and too near civilisation to be lasting. But do what man may, the view can never die. Looking down on the little speck like farms rich in their velvet pile surrounds, one all but loses one’s breathe for-so enchanting is the scene capped completely by the mighty roll of the Pacific as its great waves crumple up tenderly upon the sand for all the world like a lacey curtain fanning the temperate shore. All these ten beaches or so, so skillfully chiselled out, are known world-wide. The years have not changed that view, but the hills and flats have aged with increasing population, and one now looks down upon Thirroul which has grown so of late. Those little dot-like houses, those green hills, and creeks glistening like ribbon bands to bind up the elysium-like stretch, thrill one as no other pastoral scene can do. 

Very lovely is this sister town in reality, but after making a stir and name for herself, has not Thirroul slipped back a little?

The War Memorial looks such a  lonely figure, standing as it does in a somewhat bleak and exposed area with no enclosure or appropriate back-ground to honor its presence.The new proposed baths should give Thirroul just that little push that is needed, for at present visitors are frequenting the baths at either sides. Thirroul with its busy shopping centre, and new post-office, etc., has every chance to recapture its declining tourist trade for the town itself is  good and surroundings very beautiful. Has sister Thirroul ever had a’ ‘Back to Thirroul Week’, I wonder?

No taxi at Station, no indicator directing tourists where to get a car to the sights. A visitors casts around in vain, and finally catches the bus to Bulli in the hope of being able to get a car to the Pass at reasonable rates.

Austinmer’s little War Memorial is well cared for, and stands in a setting suitable. The park at the beach is so well cared for that it is a pleasure to picnic here with its rock baths, surf sheds, and clean streets and by-ways. In the night two great monster eyes look down upon the three sister towns as though guarding them. This striking illumination along the cliff edge originates from the Hotel Panorama, and is yet another glowing advertisement for the district. Seamen, motorist direct travellers attention to these lights as being in the vicinity of Bulli Pass, and so it is that Bulli with its far famed beauty is constantly kept in mind by night as well as by day.

The Panorama Hotel, Bulli Tops
The Panorama Hotel, Bulli Tops

The Panorama Hotel is one of the gems of the Prince’s Highway, and is but forty miles from Sydney, and has an altitude of almost 14,00 feet above sea-level. Sublime Point on its exposed area perhaps is the most popular look-out.Here the owner of the kiosk is busy with his picture selling, and refreshment wares. At this spot should any unfortunate feel disposed to jump into the inviting abyss below, there is a sign, not without its touch of pathos,“don’t J.” and then again on a small projecting rock, size about three feet square another sign placed within an old motor tyre, “No Parking Here.”

Who knows but that these little humerous devices have the power to divert those suicidally inclined.Trees at this Point are too numerous and give trouble to motorist with trailers attached, as when turning they are unable to do so, owing to the trees. Here in the Illawarra district nature has been most gracious and the Prince’s Highway can so rightly lay claim to some of the most precious jewels in the world. Beautiful sisters, Bulli, Thirroul, and Austinmer have only to guard and cherish their portion of the coastal wonderland, and what more loving thing could mother nature ask her children to do.

Surely ’tis a task no earthly mortal would dare to undertake.

– Illawarra Mercury Friday 7 December 1934

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