John Low John Low  (Christine Davies)
John Low stories
on this website

John Low was born and grew up in North Sydney.

After graduating from the University of Sydney he spent several years as an English-History teacher before qualifying as a librarian and working in public libraries in Wagga Wagga and Cowra.

In 1982 he became the Local Studies Librarian at the Blue Mountains City Library where he remained for the next 25 years until his retirement in 2007.

John Low John Low
(photo courtesy of Blue Mountains Gazette)
John enjoys researching and writing about local history, especially poking around in its forgotten and overlooked corners where interesting tales of lost lives and events are often uncovered.

His poetry has also been published in a number of Australian literary magazines and in a small chapbook published in 2005.

In 2012 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the community of the Blue Mountains as a historian, author and librarian.

Though now living in the Central Tablelands, John remains a member of the Blue Mountains Historical Society, Blue Mountains Conservation Society and Blue Mountains Bird Observers and still, when requested, speaks on local history to community groups.

He can be contacted at:

Blue Negative by John Low

when mist settles on the Mountains
the cliffs appear suspended
and we, too, seem to float
above everything.
Birds drift across the sky,
a silent melody of black notes
until that taut skin of light vibrates
in a beat of white noise
and we’re sliding into the void
with the cockatoos
and it could be 1908, or maybe 1920,
just another present
caught in a camera’s lens,
a blue negative
discarded in the mist.

Olympian Rock Olympian Rock, Leura  (Petah Low)


Pictorial Memories, Blue Mountains Pictorial Memories, Blue Mountains

Pictorial Memories, Blue Mountains, Alexandria, NSW: Kingsclear Books, first published 1991, revised and reprinted 2005, 135pp.

A book of historical photographs with text, covering all the main themes of Blue Mountains history.

The Prince of Whips, the Life and Works of the Blue Mountains Pioneer Harry Peckman (co-written with Jim Smith), Wentworth Falls, NSW: Den Fenella Press, 1993, 112pp.

Henry ‘Harry’ Peckman (1846-1934) was one of the early livery stable operators and coach proprietors in Katoomba, providing both humble and aristocratic visitors access to the natural beauties of the Mountains and enhancing their experience with song and poetic recitation.
Prince of Whips The Prince of Whips

Wild Ephemera, Kanona (NY), USA: Foothills Publishing, 2005, 32pp.

A chapbook of poems published by an American poet friend who operates a small poetry press in rural New York. Contains many poems of the Blue Mountains.

Sipping the Nectar: the ‘Bird Notes’ of Graham Alcorn (compiled with Carol Probets and Jill Dark), Katoomba NSW: Oreades Press, 2008, 112pp.

A collection of the writings of the late Graham Alcorn (1914-1998) gathered from the newsletters of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society.

Graham was a council ranger, naturalist and poet, a former president of the Conservation Society and an acute observer of birds.

This Tortuous Ridge This Tortuous Ridge
(Editor: Eugene Stockton)

"In Quest of the Carmarthen Hills: The Blue Mountains Expedition of William Dawes", chapter 5 in Eugene Stockton (ed.), This Tortuous Ridge, Linden to Lawson, Lawson NSW 2783: Blue Mountain Education & Research Trust, 2014

On Dictionary of Sydney website:

"Darwins’ Walk, Wentworth Falls", written for the "Blue Mountains Icons" project sponsored by the Dictionary of Sydney & Varuna, the Writers’ House, 2016:

This article can be found here

In Blue Mountains History Journal:

"The Martindale Family and the Sketchbook of Mary Elizabeth Martindale", Blue Mountains History Journal, Issue #2, September 2011, pp.1-14

"The Mystery of Linden’s Lonely Gravestone: Who was John Donohoe?", Blue Mountains History Journal, Issue #3, September 2012, pp.26-34

"Watering the Gee-Gees: a Survey of Blue Mountains Horse Troughs, Part 1", Blue Mountains History Journal, Issue #6, December 2015, pp.68-83 [Part 2 will soon appear in Issue #7]

These articles can be found here

In Doryanthes, a Journal of History, Heritage and the Arts:

Doryanthes Doryanthes
"A Church on Pulpit Hill: Unlocking a Blue Mountains Mystery", Doryanthes, Vol.2, No.3, August 2009, pp.33-36 (co-authored with Edward Duyker)

"Falling through the Cracks of the Anzac Legend: the Story of Private John Parker", Doryanthes, Vol.7, No.3, August 2014, pp.26-32

"Katoomba’s Proverbial Bad Penny: the Irrepressible Jack Dexter", Doryanthes, Vol.8, No.1, February 2015, pp.8-13

"Black & Blue: Jacky Brooks, an Indigenous Hero", Doryanthes, Vol.8, No.4, November 2015, pp.12-21

"Concrete Relief Maps: Early Aids to teaching Geography & History", Doryanthes, Vol.9, No.2, May 2016, pp.18-21

These articles can be found here - then "Browse this collection" for the issue.
Eric Dark Eric Dark
(courtesy Blue Mountains Library & Mick Dark)

In the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

"Eric Payten Dark (1889-1987)"
(Katoomba GP and Eleanor Dark's husband)

"Zacharias Theodore (Jack) Simos (1897-1976)"
(Paragon Café, confectioner)

In the Obituaries Australia:

"John Victor Apthorp (1904–1992)"

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