Harry Phillips

harry phillipsIn the 1980s I wrote a book on an early photographer of Sydney’s Blue Mountains district. His name was Harry Phillips and the book was called ‘The Far-Famed Blue Mountains of Harry Phillips’ after the name of one of Phillips’ publications. Phillips had set up a photography and publishing business in the Blue Mountains in the 20s and was a driving force behind many projects designed to draw tourists to the area, such as the Giants Stairway and the Scenic Railway. His many books of views circulated widely, to America and the trenches of WWI, yet from being a locally famous man he had faded from view. I wanted to give him the prominence I felt he deserved. I was in time to record reminiscences from some who had known Phillips, but was unable to rescue most of his glass plate negatives, which had been destoyed. Phillips left the Blue Mountains for Sydney, where he recorded the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and many long gone parts of the city. My book led to a revival of interest, a mural, a film, and a prize winning novel by Delia Falconer, ‘The Service of Clouds’. Phillips’ books now sell for $200 and more, and my book has a pricetag of $117. The Blue Mountains Library has a Harry Phillips collection and much information on him. Harry Phillips was a man in love with a region, and his vision of it has rarely been equalled.

©2009 Original material copyright Phillip Kay. Images and other material courtesy Creative Commons. Please inform post author of any violation.


2 thoughts on “Harry Phillips

  1. Hello Phillip, I am working with NPWS (as a consultant), developing an exhibition on the history of the Grand Canyon track at Blackheath in Blue Mtns NP, and its place in the ‘scheme of things’. I’m also a photographer, based in Mt Vic. One aspect I am developing is photography and tourism, and specifically Harry Phillips. Of course I have your book, which is fascinating. So I seeking access to some Harry Phillips images. I would particularly like to use the image of Harry and family from your web page….do you have a hi res file of this and would you let us use it? Further, you would know that good reproductions of HP photos are scarce, so although I have accessed some from BM Library and Jim Smith, I wonder if you would have any others that might be relevant, and which we could use? Please respond by email, and I can then send you some prospective images if appropriate. Thanks very much, regards, Ian

    1. Sorry, but bad news. The image here is from the BM Library website. Good resolution Phillips photos have been sought for in vain, the glass negs were all destroyed in the 40s. The Library is your best bet, they have found some plates, but all you are likely to find now are copies of Harry’s books, whose reproduction leaves much to be desired. Most of what I had went to the Library, and the rest was lost by Australia Post when I answered a similar request to yours in the past. The Historical Society and Scenic Skyway might have decent prints. There was once a display at the Albert and Victoria.Pity, as Harry was a key figure, and in what you might term eco-tourism.

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