Recently I conducted a little social history  survey on how the various towns and villages of the Blue Mountains are perceived.  Do they have a distinct character?  Well certainly most of them do.

Most surprising of all to me was that Glenbrook is considered by many to be the Double Bay or Mosman of the Mountains. I honestly had no idea. Not everyone agrees of course, so I thought I should investigate.  By the way, the village  was originally called Watertank, as it grew up from a watering stop for steam trains on the Great Western  Rail Line.

Anyway, as a resident of Mosman for over twenty years before moving to the Mountains I felt  I was  well placed to make a judgement.  Shamefully, I had never been to  Glenbrook village. I had to check whether I could walk to the centre of town from the railway station (I could).

But first, here is a photo taken in June 1978, long before any ‘gentrification’ took place. My thanks to Kathy Dwyer for sourcing this. Note the Kodak Film sign.

Glenwood village in 1978

Forty years ago.Love the car. Photo courtesy of Joan and Bill Peard.

Deciding what to wear on my visit  was a bit of  problem.  When venturing down the Mountains from my home in  beautiful Blackheath (aka ‘Bleakheath’), one needs  a warm layer that can  easily be removed.

Glenbrook Station.

Here we are.










It was lunch time when I arrived. Hmm, where to go?  Plenty of choice.  2773  in Ross Street looked inviting on such a lovely day. With play equipment out the back it’s very child friendly and  being school holidays it was pretty crowded.



I decided on nearby Vincent. It was named in honour of the old St Vincent-de-Paul shop which originally occupied  the site. I thought that was a nice touch.

Following advice  from the Blue Mts community FB group I ordered the sweet potato chips.  When  front of house Nat told me  her cousin makes the restaurant’s cakes  I  ordered one of those too; lemon, lime, ginger and pistachio.  The bill was $20.50. Too many chips of course, and I scoffed the lot. Had to take the cake home.

Coffee a,nd pistachio cupcake

I don’t think I needed all  those delicious chips.

As a writer I couldn’t bypass the bookshop; just the right degree of literary jumble.

Bookshop at Glenbrook, NSW

I was tempted to sit here for a while

Further along I had a chat to Kathy Dwyer at Foothills Eco. Lots of locally made clothes and gifts here.  I bought a little mirror with a design of grevilleas on the back. Kathy’s husband produces  the beautiful pottery on sale.  I loved the gorgeous colours in the glaze, clearly  inspired by our wonderful landscape.

Pottery at Foothill's Eco, Glenbrook NSW

Bruce Dwyer’s pottery

There are also the prerequisite ’boutique’ shops; fashion, interior decoration, home wares etc. Oh yes, and a beautician’s.  We certainly don’t have one of those in Blackheath.  As a passionate gardener, I was more interested to see a nursery and attached café in Ross Street.

Planter seats in Glenbrook NSW

Planter seats are pretty cool.

No surprise that the park/playground  was the main centre of activity.  It’s located close to the shops, which is great for young Mums. Does that giant eucalypt  behind a picket fence have special  significance I wonder? I couldn’t find a plaque and no-one seemed to know..


Eucalypt at Glenbrook, NSW

What a beauty!


Mural in Glenbrook Park.

Mural in the park celebrating local fauna and flora.

Glenbrook definitely has a lot to offer. It’s family friendly, close to  the city of Penrith and an easy commute to Sydney. It has a distinct village atmosphere away from suburban sprawl.  I guess this is why, when I checked the windows of the real estate office, there was  little local property available. A four bedroom, character cottage had an asking price of well over a million dollars.

Playground at Glenbrook NSW

On the Rainbow Brick Road in Glenbrook‘Comparisons are odious’, someone wrote in the 15th century.  It’s still true.  Glenbrook is affluent, but there is  none of that often pretentious ‘old money’ feel  of  Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Not a single small dog in a designer handbag to be seen. either.

Mind you, as an Upper Mountains dweller I can suggest one similarity. If it ever snows in Glenbook it would  probably be snowing in Double Bay as well. In fact, whether Glenbrook even qualifies as the Blue Mountains is open to debate.  Yes, it’s within the  National Park, but  that  self-styled slogan ‘Gateway to the Blue Mountains’ says a lot.  If you are at the Pearly Gates you are not exactly in heaven are you? (Only teasing.)  Would I be rude enough to dub it Penrith Heights?   OF COURSE NOT!


After my visit I received a complaint that I hadn’t mentioned the local theatre. Also, the owner of the bookshop, Yan Hope,  was upset because I didn’t make myself known to her. She said she would have made me a cup of tea and had a chat.  Clearly I will have to go back.

The story of the giant eucalypt is that it’s a ‘widow maker’, given to dropping branches. When the council decided to remove it for safety reasons the community objected; so strenuously that a compromise as reached via the picket fence.




  1. The tree behind the fence is a widowmaker and has a history of suddenly dropping branches. I don’t know if anybody was ever a casualty of its bounty but Council wanted to chop it down to prevent injury of unsuspecting tourists (the locals knew to sit under a different tree for shade). There was a huge outcry over its possible demise so Council fenced it off instead.

    • Pauline

      Thanks so much,Linda. What a sensible compromise. It’s such a majestic tree. There was another gorgeous gum there with a brown trunk. I loved them.

  2. I grew up in Glenbrook from the age of 2 (1975). When I was in primary school the local Chamber of Commerce ran a competition through the schools in the area to come up with a slogan for Glenbrook. I won with my suggestion of The Gateway To The Blue Mountains. My prize was a book “When A Goose Meets A Moose”. I still have it somewhere.

    That is how the slogan came into being. I was in grade 5 I think, at Lapstone Primary School.

    It’s my claim to fame. Lol 😂

    • Pauline

      Thanks Simone. Have added this to the Article. You have a place in history.

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