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Blue Mountains Tourist : Autumn 2011
When a Fleet of Cars Came to the Hydro -- in 1905 by Paul Innes www.bluemountainstouristnewspaper.com.au autumn 2011 28 Knowing that Mark Foy (the creative genius behind the Hydro Majestic Hotel) was an early 20th century motoring enthusiast, I was not surprised to stumble across this 1905 motoring story, in which the Hydro played a role. Following the success of the February 1905 'Dunlop Australian Reliability Trial' from Sydney to Melbourne -- watched by many thousands of spectators along the way -- the company decided to stage a reprise event in November the same year. This time, the cars would drive from Melbourne to Sydney, after which they would make a journey across the Blue Mountains to the Hydro Majestic at Medlow Bath. On a sunny day in November, 28 cars set off from Melbourne. Ahead of them was a trip which would take the cars and crews through dust, rocks, creeks, ravines and mud, and through many towns and villages. Five days, and over 900 kilometres later, 19 cars, with their weary drivers and crew, arrived in Sydney. However, as no winner could be decided, it was announced that the next day, the competitors would take a diversion across the Blue Mountains to Medlow Bath. On arriving in Medlow Bath, a winner could still not be found. So, after a short stay at the Hydro, the six remaining cars set off 'back down the hill' for Sydney...where, (oh dear!), once again a winner could not be found. This left the six cars no other choice but to set off for Melbourne again. Well, that was their excuse! On arriving in Melbourne several days later, a winner was finally announced -- Mr G Hobbs driving a Mercedes. He was awarded a gold medal, and the Dunlop Blue Ribbon for the year. Well done, Mr Hobbs! Although the Hydro's role in the 'Dunlop Trial' was brief, it was certainly indicative of Mark Foy's enthusiasm for motor cars. When the Hydro opened a year before the 'Dunlop Trial' -- on July 4th 1904 -- Mark Foy arranged for many of his guests to be driven across the Blue Mountains in a fleet of De Dion Boutons. The sight of these cars would have been quite a spectacle, as well as brilliant publicity for the Hydro. The De Dion Boutons, and a 12 seat Daimler Benz, formed the stable of motor cars at the Hydro. These cars were used to convey passengers on site seeing trips around the upper Blue Mountains; as well as trips to and from the Jenolan Caves. While other Blue Mountains' transport companies, such as the Tabretts, used horse and buggy to convey their passengers around the upper Blue Mountains, Mark Foy's motoring stable epitomised the innovative nature of their owner, and the grandeur of his newly established venture at Medlow Bath. After all, the Hydro was known as a 'Palace in the Wilderness'. Paul Innes -- historian and tour guide "As a local Historian and local History Tour Guide, I am always searching for stories and information on the Blue Mountains. Thus, if anyone can shed more light on the 1905 Dunlop Trial and the Hydro s involvement in that Trial , or if you have any Hydro car stories from any era please do not hesitate to contact me." Based on thorough written and oral research, with a touch of light hearted fun, Paul's tours cover the Blue Mountains, from Lapstone to Mount York. The itinerary includes walking tours, coach tours with commentaries, and tag-a-long car tours. As well as conducting tours himself, Paul is assisted by published historians such as John Low. Paul has been working as an historian and history tour guide in the Blue Mountains since 1996. Prior to starting the business in 1996, Paul taught History, English and Drama for 17 years. To contact Paul, phone 0402-483-599, or visit his website www.discoverthebluemountains.com.au