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Blue Mountains Tourist : Summer 2008-09
It seems there is a mysterious place; a deep and dark subterranean world; a maze of tunnels and caverns, wherein vampires, troglodytes, ladies of the night, toe-tapping dancers, escaping nuns, getaway queens, fashionable women, and even malicious tour guides dwell—all under a town called ... Katoomba. Katoomba’s mystery tunnels I Yes, it seems Katoomba is inhabited by creatures and characters, who have dwelt, partied and profiteered in mysterious tunnels which exist under this upper Blue Mountains’ town. Furthermore, it seems the majority of these mysterious tunnels run to and from The Carrington Hotel, connecting to such places as Echo Point, Mount St Mary’s Convent School, the Railway Station, the Savoy, the Gearins, and even the Paragon Café - leading one person to remark: ‘With all these tunnels, you’d think The Carrington would have collapsed by now!’ Do these tunnels really exist and where have the stories come from? 4 cannot give a definitive answer to either question, but since working for The Carrington Hotel as their Historian, I have met many people who have enjoyed telling me tunnel stories. And I’ve noticed that some of the stories have an historical reference point - even going back to the 1940s - which makes me wonder whether they are based on something actual; or just belong to ‘once upon a time’…? I’ll let you make up your own mind, as you read the following stories – which I should add usually begin with... ‘You know mate, a friend has told me there’s a tunnel under The Carrington Hotel.’ ‘A friend has told you?’ ‘Yes, a friend told me about this tunnel, but I’ve never seen it myself. This friend has. He swears by it. He told me about one that goes from here to…’ Well you get the picture, and for your enjoyment, here are some of Katoomba’s tunnel stories. The son of a former Carrington hotel boilerman said: ‘I was told that there was a tunnel running through the left side of the building (as you look from the street). Access to the tunnel was by way of a door where I think the gardeners kept their tools. The passageway supposedly went across the front of the balcony where another doorway led to another tunnel running in the direction of the two lions. I have never seen these tunnels and cannot say for sure they exist, but there is one way to find out! I talked with my sister about the possibility of the story having any basis, and www.bluemountainstouristnewspaper.com.au by Paul Innes decided it was a ‘maybe’ because of the War – with people at that time building air raid shelters etc.’ A former student of Mount St Mary’s Convent School, (sadly now the derelict Renaissance Centre), wrote: ‘My memory of the tunnel story is based on hearsay, from the World War Two period, that there was a supposed link from Mount St Mary’s Convent School to the railway underpass - thence to The Carrington, which allowed the nuns to escape the Japanese bombing. The details are thin of course as it was a childhood story. It made an impression with me though, as I looked for signs of an entrance at the school, and led an ‘expedition’ through a dark passage way (with matches for light), which turned out to be only a few yards long, and came out in the room where the boarders cleaned their shoes.’ A former (female) guest of the Carrington Hotel: ‘In the 1970s I brought my nephew to The Carrington in the May school holidays. He was six or seven years old. One evening during dinner he went to the toilet. Afterwards he came running back into the dining room, exclaiming: “I’ve found a tunnel! Come and look!” However, I declined his invitation, as the tunnel was supposedly in the men’s toilet.’ However, from this point on, any historical references to the tunnels become more obscure. For instance, I have been told that: ‘Lord Carrington had two women at the hotel and he needed the tunnel to take them to the summer 2008/9