History: Looking Back

Looking Back history feature: Bulli Mountain’s Cataract City

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Looking Back

Cataract City 1905 Cataract City 1905

By MICK ROBERTS ©

Cataract City's main street 1905 Cataract City’s main street 1905

WORK on constructing the Cataract Dam, 10kms west of Bulli, was well underway to supply water to a thirsty Sydney in 1905.

A temporary township, with a daily garbage collection service and environmental safeguards well ahead of its time, Cataract City was home to hundreds of dam construction workers and their families from 1902, until the dam’s completion in 1907.

Cataract City was a bustling community of navies, labourers, engineers office workers and their families, living in white-washed tenements, corrugated iron barracks and boarding houses not far from what was at the time Australia’s largest engineering project. With them of course followed enterprising business people, such as butchers and grocers.

Cataract Dam, completed at a cost of $1.3 million in April 1907, was at the time Australia’s first large water supply dam.
The drought of 1901-1902 brought Sydney…

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About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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