Guest contributor: Justin Fox on Catalina Park, the hidden race track of Katoomba, Australia
Earlier this week we hit the road to discover Catalina Park, a disused motor racing venue located at Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains.
The 2.1 km circuit opened on 12 February 1961 and was originally used for top-level motorsport in the 1960s (the lap record is 53 seconds). The mountain location caused problems with fog causing delays in the race programs; in addition, the track was very narrow by today’s standards and surrounded by walls, Armco railings, and hillside. The track fell into greater disuse with the opening of other circuits nearer to Sydney such as Oran Park and Amaroo Park.
Catalina Park is commonly known as The Gully, a beautiful piece of land with quite an interesting history. In 1957, the traditional owners were forcibly removed from the gully to make way for a race track organised by a group of 83 local businessmen (the Blue Mountains Sporting Drivers Club Limited) who were supported by the then-Blue Mountains City Council. The trauma caused to the land and to the community of people who were living in and around the Gully was profound – and still reverberates.
The Gully was declared an Aboriginal Place on 18 May 2002.
We parked up at the Aquatic Centre, which has an entrance right into Dunlop Corner. We then spent the day walking the amazing circuit, which has amazing undulation and isn’t anywhere near as bad shape as we were expecting. We couldn’t help but feel super emotional about not being able to drive on it anymore.
Please enjoy the following photos from our track walk and envision what once was.
Wooden barriers still intact.
A man-made lake sits where the pit garages used to once be.
This BP sign is the only remaining signage on the track.
Uphill we go.
Check the on-camber on this corner. Our photographer Ved was upright for this shot.
Now overgrown, spot the wooden barriers which used to define the edge of the circuit.
Water running across the track.
A tree fallen over the circuit.
Scariest track I ever drove. Rollercoaster elevation changes, wooden wall (instead of runoff area), plus heaps of overhanging trees so your eyes have to adjust from daylight to darkness all the time. Oh, and water runs across the track from the rocks. The fastest part is a downhill stretch into a valley (from Craven A to Tunnel of Love… great corner names!) with wooden walls on either side, and there is a flat-out corner at the bottom. Ironically (given the touge description), my last time there was in an AE86 – Kevin San aka Babalouie
Images © Selectnine
Justin Fox is a recurring contributor to Motoring Con Brio.