Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Watts, T. & Smark, C. (2011). A Doctor’s contribution to regional development in Katoomba, New South Wales, 1887-1907. Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, 17 (3), 246-263.


Regional and community innovations in Australia’s early social and local-government history are often a reflection of the social, political and economic context in which they operate. This paper uses a microhistorical approach to explore the contribution of one individual, Dr John Spark, to the Municipality of Katoomba between 1887 and 1907. His local-government reforms relate to the financial management and reporting practices of the Katoomba Council during 1893-1894. These reforms included regular reporting and reviewing of major expenditure items, separate reporting of extraordinary items, separation of capital expenditure and recurrent expenditure, and the presentation of detailed comparative reports. Some of Spark’s community involvement included his role as an advocate for sanatoriums in the Blue Mountains, resulting, in part, in the establishment of two sanatoriums at Wentworth Falls in 1903 and 1908. Spark’s death in 1910 left a legacy of improved local-government reporting and inspired community service.