A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
Published May 7th 2017
Mount Wilson is renowned for its heritage gardens but another spot worthy of visiting in this little village is that of the Turkish Bath Museum. Perched on a hill, it overlooks the surrounding landscape of the Blue Mountains National Park in all its beauty.
This bath, a sauna, was built by Richard Wynne (the first mayor of Sydney suburb Burwood and a bricklayer from Dublin) in the late 1800's for therapeutic reasons rather than religious reasons. He thought it would be helpful for his sick wife Mary Ann who was suffering an unknown illness at the time (later suspected as some form of abdominal cancer).
It was stylish for its era with its fascinating architecture of late Victorian boom style and influences of neo-Greek and Italianate. Detailed brickwork with banding and crosses, a tower of 350mm solid brickwork with an elaborately decorated turret atop and 460mm double cavity construction on the remainder of the building (for insulation against rapid loss of heat) made it very unusual for those times.
What's most captivating about this building for me is the beautiful stained and handmade glass windows. Seven arched windows each painted individually in England with delicate designs include birds, plants and a waterfall. Each one different, all magnificent.
There are three rooms to this bath house that is now a museum – the steam room, the massage room and the wash down room. Whilst a traditional Turkish bath is a steam bath or Hamam, this bath was a dry heat bath with the hot dry air coming from a furnace in the basement. After time in the steam room, it was then into the massage room which was nothing like those of today. No comfy beds but marble slabs on which treatment took place before proceeding to the wash down room.
The history of this Turkish bath is shown on the walls of the rooms now in words, sketches and photos of the owners and descendants. Circa 1921-1950, Scottish stonemasons were employed to construct the stone residence 'Wynstay' and thus the Turkish bath became their home for around three decades. The transformation saw the entrance converted to a 1920's bathroom with a ceramic decorated toilet, a cistern for a septic tank (very innovative in those times), a deep copper bath and a chip heater. Concrete coke ceilings were removed and replaced with horsehair plaster ceilings whilst tiled floors in two rooms were covered with timber. A fuel stove was added in the massage room and a fireplace in the steam room.
In 1994, the Turkish Bath was in need of care with walls collapsing and the galvanised iron roof rusted, amongst other issues. The descendants, Bill and Jane Wynne, decided to donate this rare building to a community preservation project. It was restored with funding from local people and the NSW Heritage Office. In 1997, Hazel Hawke (then Chairman of the Heritage Council of NSW) officially opened it as a museum.
Visitors can now enjoy tours of the museum or can wander around by themselves. Entry is $5 per adult, with children free. It is open 12.30pm-3.30pm on most Sundays during the autumn months March to May and again in the spring months of September and October. You can find it at the end of The Avenue (one of two main streets in Mt Wilson) on Mt Irvine Rd. It is best to call first on 02 4756 2120 to ensure it is open.
Getting to Mount Wilson from Sydney is best via the Bells Line of Road. It is around a 2 hour drive through various landscapes to this cool climate village. Be sure to take your own food and drinks as there are no shops.