Just as Aboriginal people had done for countless generations before the road's construction in 1814, European travellers made the most of this oasis in a dry landscape.
Even up to the time when the name of the Twenty Mile Hollow was changed to Woodford in the 1870s, the pivotal landmark quality of this place saw it being featured on maps of the Blue Mountains.
From its origins as a roadside inn in the early 1830s, the building evolved and adapted over time to finally become home to a private school in the early 1900s.
It is from this period that the name "academy" attached to the former travellers inn / country residence / guesthouse.
Use the interactive map above to access more detailed content as you move around along the trail. Browse through the landscape views below to see how the precinct has evolved over time.
Its origins are grounded in the distant past when it formed a natural crossroads in the cultural landscapes of Aboriginal people ... more.
From 1814 onwards, the hollow increasingly functioned as a bush corridor wayside point for early travellers along the Coxs Road ... more.
Events took a dramatic turn in the 1850s with the discovery of gold west of the mountains around Bathurst ... more.
It was the arrival of the railway across the mountains in 1867 however that really changed everything for life at the hollow. With traffic along the Western Road dropping to a trickle, most users travelled by rather than through Woodford. As a result the locale became either a destination in its own right or else a blur seen through the window of a railway carriage ... more.
The highway however was not quite yet done with Woodford. From the 1930s onwards upgrades to the Great Western Highway re-established the town as a place people travelled through in transit across the mountains ... more.
The most recent chapter in the landscape evolution process at the hollow dates from 2015 when the four land upgrade to the highway between Penrith and Katoomba was completed. This once again bypassed Woodford as car travellers go by rather than through the town. Community reconnection with traditional Aboriginal pathways helps begin to re-establish 20 Mile Hollow's role as a community crossroads ... more.
10m engraved groove in reserve, potentially linked to other engravings under grass. Permanent water noted
Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson first Europeans known to travel through Woodford
Europeans may have been in area earlier
Evans passes through surveying BWL route for road
Mid-mtns was burnt when he returned on way back
Coxs Road built through Woodford
20 mile peg placed
Windradyne passes through on way from Bathurst to Parramatta
With 200 warriors, en route to surrender to Governor at end of ‘Wiradjuri Wars’
Thomas Pembroke promised 50 ac
Pembroke’s wife is Frances Collits
Site occupied by William and Mary James, with hut
First European residence in central BMs?
Pembroke selects his grant partly including James’ improvements and commences construction of inn
Pembroke helped by father-in-law Pierce Collits (of Collits Inn, Hartley Vale)
Gov. Darling grants 2 ac to Pembroke for a ‘respectable inn’
Pembroke petitioned Governor to remove James. Liquor licence granted 1834
Convict stockade established at 17 Mile Pinch (later known as Bulls Camp)
Gangs relocated up mountain from Emu Plains
Pembroke sells Inn to Michael Hogan
Pembroke was heavily mortgaged. Name changed to ‘The King’s Arms’. Various licensees under lease to Hogan in ensuing years
Cpt John Bull appointed in charge of convict road gang at 18 Mile Hollow.
Bull and family live in room at the inn at 20 Mile Hollow.
Gold discovered nerar Bathurst
Traffic along the Mountains Road increases dramatically
Hogan sells Inn to William Buss
In the same year police lockup moved to Twenty Mile Hollow from Weatherboard (Wentworth Falls)
Buss takes out mortgage on property and undertakes major extensions / improvements
Inn features 1 acre orchard as well as cleared pasture
Sydney-Bathurst telegraph line opens across the Blue Mtns
Construction of Linden-Woodford section of railway begins
Bulls Camp / 18 Mile Hollow used as construction camp
Railway line opened to Weatherboard (Wentworth Falls)
William Buss dies leaving inn to his wife. Railway platform (Buss') installed opposite inn
Alfred Fairfax purchases Buss' Inn for use as a country retreat
Name changed to Woodford soon after
Fairfax purchases 10 acre police lockup site immediately west of main holding
Location used to record Transit of Venus in 1874 and again for astronomical experiments in 1878
Three Falls track constructed by Fairfax
Extended around valley later flooded by Woodford Dam, via Mabel, Edith (daughters of Fairfax) and Gemini Falls
Fairfax mortgages Woodford property
Failed mining ventures at Hill End influence decision
Woodford House operates as guesthouse
Major additions undertaken in 1884/85
Railway zigzag at Lapstone bypassed
Geologist Edgeworth David purchases old cottage + 26 ac immediately west of Woodford House
Holding includes 'Police lockup/Transit of Venus' block
Fairfax sells Woodford House property
Sale includes main 50 acre block and also 40 acre holding to the east
Duplication of railway line sees Woodford Station moved several hundred metres east to current location
Woodford House continues to be leased and operate primarily as guesthouse
John McManamey takes out lease on Woodford House and establishes Woodford Academy
He later purchased the central 12.5 acre holding in 1914
Waterhouses build palatial 'Weroona' residence on 40 acre block east of Academy
Outbreak of First World War in August
David residence given over to Red Cross to establish convalescent home for injured soldiers
Cooeee recreuitment marchers received on site in November 1915
Area contaiing the Three Falls gazetted as recreation reserve
Reserve called Waterhouse Park
Woodford Academy school closes
Over 300 boys educated during previous 18 years
Woodford Dam constructed and floods much of Fairfax’s Three Falls walking track
Dam later raised several times
Academy school reopens as local co-educational day school
11 students in 1929, 31 in 1935
Waterhouse Park enlarged by 40 acre donation from Waterhouse family to BM Shire
Walking track loop to Hazel (Fairy) falls first appears on a map
Map by Melville
Start of Second World War
Great Western Highway widened at Woodford
Edgeworth David property destroyed by bushfire
John McManamey knocked down and killed by motorist outside Academy
His daughter Gertrude inherits property
National Trust of Australia formed
Main house at Weroona destroyed by bushfire
Electification of rail line in this year reduces risk of fires starting from locomotive embers
Local council resumes tennis courts in Weroona Ave
Gertrude McManamey donates land beside Woodford Academy to Presbyterian church
BMCC purchases 4 acres from Gertrude McManamey to be a reserve for ‘recreation’
Now Woodford Reserve. Local volunteers take on maintenance of grounds
Gertrude McManamey bequeaths property to National Trust
Continues to live on site until 1986. Dies 1988
Water Board takes control of Woodford Dam catchment from BMCC
Walking tracks included. In 1991 restores part of the falls loop track as the ‘Transit of Venus’ track
Great Western Highway straightened/widened through Woodford Bends
National Trust opens Woodford Academy building to public
Conservation works undertaken to Academy
Woodford Catchment Special Area transferred to Blue Mountains NP
Includes Hazel and Edith Falls and northern parts of walking tracks to them
Concrete path formed to link Woodford Academy to Woodford Reserve
Four lane highway upgrade from Penrith to Katoomba completed
BMCC takes over maintenance of Woodford Reserve from local volunteers