Margaret Parrish (nee Dunlop)

I was 16 years old and lived with my mother and brother at the corner of Lett and Govett Streets Katoomba. I had just completed my Intermediate Certificate and along with friends decided to go to the Leura Baths (known as the Bear Pit because of its shape) for a swim because it was so hot.

At the end of Govett Street there was a track with lots of stairs down to the pool and Leura Cascades and this was used by many to access the area. We were enjoying ourselves and had noticed black smoke above the hill but like all kids kept on with what we were doing.

Then a taxi came down from Leura and told us to get out and get home quickly as Leura was alight and the fire was coming along Jersey Avenue. We had never raced up those stairs so fast and it wasn’t til we got to the top of the hill that we saw what was happening, especially along Railway Parade and the Leura shops.

At the bottom of Lett and Rodova Streets and other streets running parallel there was a clearing (now Peter Carroll Oval) used by Council as a blue metal holding place and that acted as a fire brake to that area. We kids belonged to St Albans Church Fellowship and the Rector of the time asked us if we could meet at the hall to help in the recovery aspect and assist our parishioners who needed some help.

Eventually we collected the goods brought in, such as clothing, personal items, and food, and assisted with the distribution process.

It stills lives so clearly in my mind to this very day.