The Gully (Catalina Park)

The Gully, also known as Catalina Park or Frank Walford Park, is the largest Aboriginal Place in New South Wales, albeit with a sad history.

Catalina Park is a natural amphitheatre to the west of Katoomba. Although officially named Frank Walford Park, it has more recently been called by its earlier name The Gully.

The Gully forms the headwaters of the Katoomba Falls Creek and is therefore part of the Warragamba Catchment area that provides Sydney’s water. It is an ecologically and culturally sensitive place.

Before white settlement the traditional owners of the Gully – the Gundungurra and Darug peoples – used the Gully as a summer camp. Settlement at the foot of the mountains forced many Gundungurra and Darug people to resettle permanently in the Gully well before 1950.

In 1957, their relatively peaceful co-existence was shattered. The traditional owners were forcibly removed from the Gully to make way for a racetrack organised by a group of local businessmen who were supported by the then Blue Mountains City Council.

The trauma caused to the land and to the community of people who were living in and around the Gully was profound – and still reverberates.

The Gully racetrack as it looks today - abandoned and empty.
The Catalina racetrack today. The Gully is abandoned and very quiet. Only few racetrack elements remain like the rusty sign and guard rails. Access to the Gully Walk is to the left.

Despite the near total devastation that resulted from the construction of the racing circuit, meagre traces of the fringe camp and scattered stone artefacts remain.

The Gully was declared an Aboriginal Place on 18 May 2002. From the time it was nominated until its declaration as an Aboriginal Place, took only nine months.

The Gully in Katoomba became the largest Aboriginal Place in NSW. The Aboriginal Place declaration was warmly welcomed by the Gundungurra and Darug Traditional Owners and was marked by Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike with an official celebration in November 2002.

In September 2009 The Gully traditional owners celebrated the co-management agreement put in place earlier with the Blue Mountains City Council.

Tip: Sacred Waters: The Story of the Blue Mountains Gully Traditional Owners has been written in close collaboration with the Gully people by Blue Mountains resident for 20 years anthropologist Dr Dianne Johnson.

Map: The Gully is only a short walk west of Katoomba Station. Access is at its southern end via Catalina Avenue and Red Hill Street. Take the excellent Gully Walk which recounts the site’s Aboriginal history.

Cite this article

An appropriate citation for this document is:, The Gully (Catalina Park), retrieved 1 October 2021