The Friends Archive: War and Peace with the Blue Mountains ‘hysterical’ Society


~ War and peace with the Blue Mountains ‘hysterical’ Society





Published herein as a web book by The Habitat Advocate




First Published 2023

Publishing status:  a work in progress. Anticipated by the author to be completed by Australian spring 2023.

Text, Images, Design, Typography, Typeset © The Habitat Advocate

The Gully Catchment, Katoomba, Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Australia

E: editor [at]

This book is copyright.  Apart from any use permitted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 and subsequent amendment in force, no part may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means or process whatsoever without the prior written approval of the publisher.


National Library of Australia cataloguing:  (TBA)

Printing:   Not available in print – save our trees in forests!



This book is dedicated to the memory of the late Stefan Indyka, Vice President of the Blue Mountains Historical Society, for his gracious and conciliatory acceptance of The Friends Archive (The Neil Lewis Stuart Archive) in December 2016 to take responsibility for this large, valuable and unique archive for its ongoing care, security, integrity so that it be made available for public research access in the History Research Centre in perpetuity.



I’ll stay on this egg and I won’t let it freeze.  I meant what I said and I said what I meant… An elephant’s faithful one hundred per cent!”

~ Horton the Elephant, ‘Horton hatches the Egg’ (book) by Dr. SEUSS, (Theodor GEISEL).  Published by Hamish Hamilton, London, 1942.





This book is dedicated to the late Stefan Indyka, former Vice President of the Blue Mountains Historical Society. 






This book is a factual account of what happened [2016-2023] between two established social organisations within The Blue Mountains in Australia (indeed incorporated associations respectively) over a entrusted gifted archival record collection that had spanned 27 years.   This story is about a breach of trust and the purpose of this book is to convey a moral message of what not to do when entrusted.

Before our editor established The Habitat Advocate, Steven was an active member of Katoomba residents’ environmental activist group, The Friends of Katoomba Falls Creek Valley Inc. (the Friends).  Steven joined because he lived within Katoomba Falls Creek Valley, subsequently referred to as The Gully and was keen to play an active role in the local community to protect and restore the environmental integrity of The Valley/Gully.  The Friends had formed in 1987 initially to lobby to stop the car racing in the Valley.  Steven was a late comer and became an active member of The Friends between 2002 and 2008, playing a key role in the ultimate shutting down of the Catalina Motor Raceway in The Valley/Gully at the time. 

Following the untimely passing of The Friends founder and leader Neil Stuart in May 2016, in December that year The Friends as an organisation was formally wound up.  The substantial 27-year record archive of ‘The Friends’ activism [1987-2016] was gifted by its management in good faith to the nearby Blue Mountains Historical Society (The Society).  Steven, as then an off-an-on  member of The Society, helped to facilitate The Friend’s archival handover process to The Society with former long standing member and Chairman of The Friends, Des.  

The mutual agreement was for The Society to store the entire archive of The Friends in perpetuity at its double-bricked History Research Centre building (image above) situated at its site at Hobby’s Reach in Wentworth Falls.  As part of a Deed of Gift, relevant correspondence included The Friends donation to The Society of their entire bank balance of $3657.11 for the specific use to purchase necessary storage materials to accommodate the archive, including two new steel cabinets. 

Steven in front of ‘The Friends’ archival collection forcibly relegated by The Society’s president Phil Hammon to purgatory to Phil’s ageing mate’s defunct Colless Foods depot on Friday 26th May 2023.


It was mutually agreed between the two parties that the archive be entitled ‘The Neil Lewis Stuart Archive‘ in honour of The Friends founder Neil who had untimely passed away earlier that year.   It was agreed that the Society would respect the integrity of the archive keeping it safely and securely intact within two locked steel archive cabinets (safe, locked, protected from the elements) with due secure access protocols and situated away from the busy and congested other parts of the History Research Centre.   

It was also agreed to allow former working group members of The Friends, Steven and Des, to undertake an Archive Re-sort Project to achieve a logical topic-based ordering of the records so as to facilitate research by otherwise uninformed members of the general public.  Thus far, this project has taken 740 hours of volunteer labour by Steven and Des.

From early 2017 initial arrangements proceeded amicably under The Society’s then management committee – a entrusted time of peace.  But in the few years that followed, The Society betrayed that trust with The Friends. 

Sometime during the NW Government’s bushfire emergency/ pandemic lockdown period [2019-2022], changes to the old guard of The Society’s management committee saw a deterioration of its interest in the archive and in its archival obligations.  Subsequent committee make ups went rogue.  The Friends two archive cabinets were clandestinely relocated from the mutually agreed safe and secure storage in the Society’s Meeting Room to make way for the Society to oddly start accommodating some external unrelated gambling bridge card playing club. 


The Blue Mountains Historical Society now sadly publicises card game gambling over its constitutional custodianship for Blue Mountains historical archives.   We ask the former Treasurer why that may be?


Gambling contract bridge players in 2023 taking over The Blue Mountains Historical Society.   The Neil Lewis Stuart Archive twin cabinets were originally stored in this meeting room up against the wall where the ‘X’ is shown. 


SOURCE: Blue Mountains Bridge Club website, accessed June 2023.


Not only was The Friends archive secretly relocated by The Society’s Archive Co-ordinator without the knowledge of The Friends custodians Steven and Des, the security of the cabinets was ignored, access was curtailed.  Then The Society’s management committee spitefully began treating Steven and Des with arrogance and contempt.

Our dispute over the Society’s repeated mismanagement of the archive then ensued.   This culminated in the Society’s management committee forcibly relocating the archive (a second time) off-site to a defunct warehouse up for sale on Friday 26th May 2023 (photo below). 

The Blue Mountains Historical Society unbelievably evicts The Friends archive, despatching it off-site to a defunct warehouse that is up for sale, near the local tip. 


That recognised logo of The Friends


The offsite destination of The Friends archive – condemned by The Society to this abandoned commercial site up for sale, located near Katoomba Tip –  The Gully’s forced eviction history repeated!


Truth is indeed stranger than fiction – to fight for Blue Mountains heritage..a time of war? 

In hindsight, the good faith that had been extended by The Friends to The Society proved subsequently to have been misguided.  The Society over the years has gained a reputation for being rather hysterical in its insular behaviour.  We now know why. 

At the time of writing, The Habitat Advocate remains a corporate member of The Society, having joined in 2007;, but we consider this now under review.   

This is a true story of the despicable mismanagement of this valuable archive by The Society and of experienced and hysterical behaviour by its management.


From our experience, we liken the dysfunctional shenanigans at The Society’s monthly closed-door management committee meetings to the comical parish meeting moments from the BBC TV comedy series ‘The Vicar of Dibley‘ (1994-2007) … 



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