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Rhodo Community Markets, 1st Sunday of the month, 8.30am – 1pm, Community Hall & Gardens, 267 Great Western Highway, Blackheath

2016 Parade. Photo Trish Davies

The Blackheath Rhododendron Festival, or simply the Rhodo Festival as we locals refer to it, is a week-long event that takes place in Blackheath in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney every November. It has taken many forms over the years, usually capped off by a parade and a revue, but also involving other events spaced out during the year. The Blackheath Choir Festival is one such event, occurring over the weekend that includes the 4th Sunday in October. A 10-day Art Show is held annually, closing over the Festival weekend. Its precursor prior to 1969 was the popular eisteddfod that attracted singers from around Australia. Funds raised during the various events are used to support a range of local organisations and projects.

The following images capture some of the excitement of the Festival in the early years. Unless otherwise attributed, the photos on our website are courtesy of the Blue Mountains Library, Local Studies collection. Many were taken by G J Johnston, the first President of the newly formed association in 1953. As the Library states, “Gordon James Johnston, PhC, MPS, operated a Blackheath Pharmacy during the 1950s and was a National Emergency Services Warden and conscientious objector during WW II. He was first president of the Blackheath Rhododendron Festival Committee in 1953.” Some of the photos on these webpages are from flickr, but many others can be viewed on that site.

Girls’ Brigade Float, Rhododendron Festival 1956
1957 Rhododendron Festival Float and Queen, Doris Thomson
CWA Float, Rhododendron Festival 1957
Water Polo match and Jantzen Mannequin Parade, 1957 Rhododendron Festival
Dr Stefani Siedlecky with Camera and Water Pistol

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