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Sunday, 25 May 2014

MARK’S TOMB: MEDLOW BATH, BLUE MOUNTAINS NSW AUSTRALIA


















The story of Mark’s Tomb is a fascinating one. So that there is no misunderstanding, this is not a real tomb, but would have been if Mark Foy had had his way.
Mark Foy (1865-1950) was a successful Sydney
businessman. Along with his brother Francis, the department store was commenced in 1885 in Liverpool St, in what was
then the heart of the Sydney retail district. Fashionable clothing one was one of the store’s specialities. The business (named for their father, Mark Foy Senior) thrived but eventually went the way of similar retailers in that part of the city, closing its doors in 1980. The building survives as the Downing Centre, a group of courthouses.
Apart from the business, the name of Mark Foy will forever be associated with two of his major interests – sailing and the Hydro-Majestic Hotel at Medlow Bath. It is with the second of these that we are, of course, now concerned.
To understand the story of the famous Medlow Bath landmark, I suggest that you download a copy of a guide to the Hydro-Majestic Hotel, from around 1910. Go to Trove here, select “Books”, tick “Available Online” and type in the key words: Hydro Majestic Medlow Bath. Press Enter, and a short list will come up. Select the second of these, which you can now download as a PDF file. It will only take a few minutes at most. You will be amazed at the opulence of the place.
The Hydro was undoubtedly a pet project of Mark’s. The “hydro” in the name refers to the idea of 
water treatments in alleviating – even curing – a wide range of ailments. The “Bath” in Medlow Bath takes us back to the same idea in Europe, notably “taking the cure” in places like the hot springs in Bath, England, and the many spas across Europe. It is still widely practiced today, the hot springs of New Zealand are extensively used for the same purpose and Sue and I appreciate the hydrotherapy pool here in Lithgow where we live.
I can’t say that the idea was as successful as Mark Foy would have liked, but the hotel certainly grew in fame as one of the places to be seen at in the Blue Mountains, at the top of the list with the Carrington in Katoomba, in fact. Foy lived to see his dream hotel managed by others who probably didn’t share his vision for the place, and to see it taken over as a military hospital for American servicemen in World War 11. Since then it has had many ups and downs and at the moment (May 2014) there is major construction and refurbishment going on there. Hydrotherapy will again be available at the Hydro. One thing will never change, though, and that is the superb views of the cliffs and valleys from the rear hotel balconies and lawns. Visit this site here for information on the hotel today and into the future.
Foy was so taken with the area that he wanted to be buried there, selecting the eroded sandstone cave we know as “Mark’s Tomb” as his final resting place. I don’t know what his family thought about the idea, if they even knew about it before his will was read. As things turned out, the courts overturned the instruction to build the tomb there and now all that remains is the sign pointing down the hill from the Wonderland Track reading “Mark’s Tomb”, and even this looks like it won’t last much longer.
You can read the newspaper articles form the Sydney Morning Herald here (Mark Foy Left £68,981) and here (Elaborate Mark Foy Tomb Need Not Be Built), both from 1951.
To find Mark’s Tomb, go to the end of Belgravia St, follow the “TRACK” sign on the tree and take the first track to the right. About 15 minutes along this (the Wonderland Track) you will see a track branching off down the hill to the left. This is where the “Mark’s Tomb” sign is nailed to a tree on the left side of the track. My video about the Wonderland Track and Mark’s Tomb may be found here. My Blue Mountains You Tube playlist may be found here . I have three other playlists - on gem hunting/mining, Glen Innes and New Zealand. Please comment and subscribe.

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