The Paul Harris Memorial Lookout, a Blackheath treasure

By | March 12, 2017

The Paul Harris Memorial lookout is a surprise. It’s hidden and seldom visited and would be the only lookout in the Blue Mountains that is viewed from a shelter.

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The Paul Harris Lookout is marked by a concrete and steel structure providing shelter to visitors taking in views over Blackheath Glen and Shipley Plateau.

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This lookout was erected in 1954 as a memorial to Paul Harris (1868-1947), the American founder of what became Rotary International. Harris started a Rotary Club in Chicago in 1905 to foster an ideal of service, in the context of businessmen and professional men. By 1912 the organisation had spread to Britain and renamed itself the International Association of Rotary Clubs, changing again ten years later to Rotary International. (New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed., X 199, 654-5; Crystal, Cambridge Biographical Encyclopedia, p 426)

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The first Rotary Club in the Blue Mountains was formed at Katoomba in 1937. Blackheath was the second, founded in 1944.

The death of Bill Tucker in 1954 was lamented by both the Horticultural Society and the Rotary Club. Tucker’s death coincided with the celebration of the jubilee of Rotary International: Rotary years are not calendar years, so the jubilee year was 1954-5. Well aware of this, Tucker had included in his will a bequest to pay for the erection of a suitable monument. Rotary elected to put up a lookout near the end of Staveley Parade and to dedicate it, not to Tucker, but to Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary, who had died seven years earlier. (Historic Blackheath, 201; plaque on lookout)

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There is also a bit of “unofficial” local art around the base of it.

Sadly, today the lookout is severely neglected. It needs some essential repair and a good clean up. Having said that it is well worth a visit.

Use your Ask Roz Blue Mountains app to get there.

Ask Roz link

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Department of Environment link

Blackheath Rotary Club link

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