LithgowLocation: Blue Mountains
Lithgow is a city in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, located in a mountain valley named Lithgow s Valley by John Oxley in honour of William Lithgow, the first Auditor-General of New South Wales. It is the western gateway to the Blue Mountains.
Location: 150 km west of Sydney on the Great Western Highway; 920 metres above sea-level on the western slopes of the Blue Mountains.
Lithgow Ironfest is an annual cultural heritage event that hosts the annual St George s Day Jousting Tournament; it involves contestants from all around the World. Another major part of Ironfest is the colonial battle re-enactment, called the Battle of Lithgow which involves over 120 participants, kitted out in fully authentic 19th century apparel, and involving cavalry, infantry and artillery. As well as these two major historical re-enactment events Ironfest comprises historical & auto displays, blacksmith demonstrations, art exhibitions, live music and performance, art making workshops & demonstrations, etc.
Visitor Centre, Lithgow: Great Western Highway. Ph. (03) 6350 3230
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Small Arms Museum: located in an old section of the Australian Defence Industry Factory which opened in 1912. Lithgow was chosen by the Federal Government as the site for the factory due to its steel and coal production and its distance from the coast, in case of naval bombardment. A major component of the local economy, the factory employed 6000 people at its peak in 1942. On display is a substantial collection of machine guns, rifles, pistols and related items from around the world, including Australian-designed experimental, prototype and pre-production weapons. Location: Methven Street. Ph (02) 6351 4452.
Blast Furnace Park: the park is the only surviving relic of Australia s first iron and steel industry, with iron works operating here from 1886 to 1928. The site has now been developed as a park around the remains of the engine house, boiler house, turbines, storage bins, crane walls, stoves, rail sidings, cooling pond, water channels, a network of underground tunnels, a large slag heap and the foundations of the furnaces. A pamphlet outlines the features in some detail.
State Mine Heritage Park: situated on the original site of the State Coal Mines headworks, which were established to supply coal to the railways and other government departments. It opened in 1916 and from 1921 was the biggest employer in the western coalfields and one of the largest in the state. The mine was closed dramatically in June 1964 as a result of flooding. There are displays relating to mining history, steam power and the town s rail heritage. The dirt road to the site continues on past the park, ultimately leading to the Glow Worm Tunnel.
Open for guided tours on weekends and public holidays. Ph (02) 6353 1513.
10 km east of Lithgow is the Zig Zag Railway, a heritage railway which uses a stretch of railway line was acclaimed worldwide as a major engineering feat when it was completed in 1869. The track passes over three magnificent sandstone viaducts and through two hand-hewn tunnels and a cutting east of the village of Clarence, furnishing striking views over some spectacular natural scenery during its precipitous descent from the Blue Mountains into the Lithgow Valley.
The railway enabled the industrialisation of the valley by rendering the exportation of coal and iron commercially viable and led to Lithgow becoming the rail-head for the western region and the major industrial centre of NSW in the latter part of the 19th century.
A ten tunnel new line was completed in 1910 which bypassed the zig-zag line. During the Second World War Clarence Tunnel was used as an ammunition store. It was reopened in 1975 due to the work of the Zig Zag Railway Co-operative, which established and still runs a 12 km return heritage railway on the Zig Zag. Steam trains now operate on weekends, public holidays and most school holidays while a diesel-powered vintage motor runs during the week. The latter takes in a tour of the workshop and allows more time to investigate the viaducts and scenery.
Passing close by one of the prettiest campsites in the Blue Mountains (Deep Pass), the Nayook Canyon Bushtrack explores the beautiful Nayook Creek. Winding its way through the ferns along the creek bed, climbing small cascading waterfalls and scrambling around rock-pools are all the delights of this walk. Care must be taken on slippery sections, with ropes to help on some steeper parts. Time: 45 mins. 21.2 km NE of Lithgow. Length: 2.2 km. Wollemi National Park.
!0 km south of Lithgow, Braceys Lookout is the highest scenic lookout in the Blue Mountains (1,130 m above sea-level). It was apparently named by Governor Macquarie after a similar escarpment formation in India. There are views of Mt Wilson and Mt York to the east, Mt Tarana and Mt Blaxland in the west and the whole Hartley Valley below. To the south are the Kanimbla and Megalong Valleys and Mt Bindo (1,363 m).
Hartley Historic Site (11 km south) is the well-preserved remains of one of the first rural settlements west of the Blue Mountains. The settlement of this area in the 1830s was significant for the development of inland Australia. In the village there are 17 buildings of historic interest, including the he Greek Revival Courthouse (1837), now a museum with guided tours. It was the scene of many convict trials.
Jenolan Caves (50 km south): one of the most popular tourist destination in regional NSW, there are nine caves regularly shown to tourists, although several hundred of various sizes have been found in this area. On the northern side of the Grand Archway are Lucas, River, Pool of Cerberus, Orient, Ribbon and Temple of Baal Caves; and on the southern side are Chifley, Imperial and Jubilee Caves. The north-side caves include those with high domed chambers (Temple of Baal and Orient) as well as tunnel-like caves, while the south-side caves are all tunnel forms. A large cave remnant, Carlotta Arch, is like a window looking out high above the Devils Coach House.
Wollemi National Park (49 km north) is the largest wilderness area in New South Wales. Wollemi is a maze of canyons, cliffs and undisturbed forest. Descend to the Colo River on Bob Turners Track and enjoy the inland beaches in one of the state s longest and most scenic gorges; or there are historic ruins at Newnes and the Glow Worm Tunnel; Dunns Swamp has easy walks and plenty of opportunities for canoeing.
Deep Pass: an attractive, grassy flat nestled between pagoda rock formations and low cliffs. The camping area is close to a small canyon which you can explore on a short walk upstream along the fern-lined Nayook Creek. If you head downstream you can see Split Rock. The camping area can accommodate up to 40 people.
Aboriginal sites occur in the area, and visitors are asked to avoid disturbing artefacts or rock art. Fires are permitted in existing fire pits only, and not allowed in rock overhangs.
Capertee River, Coorongooba
Coorongooba: Secluded Coorongooba campground is the ideal place to pitch a tent, relax and recharge in the dramatic World Heritage surrounds of Wollemi National Park. Set on the crystal clear Capertee river, you ll have plenty of opportunities to splash about in river pools, enjoy invigorating walks along the Capertee river trail, or just soak up the natural ambience with a good book. The Capertee is usually shallow but if there s been rain, why not try your hand at liloing?
The Capertee river trail is also a great place for birdwatching. It s close to a breeding site for the endangered regent honeyeater, so if you re there during spring, keep your eyes open for fledglings learning to fly.
Colo Meroo: At Colo Meroo campground, you can pitch your tent on grassy flats just 100m from the beautiful Colo river. Pop your billy on the wood barbie and settle in for a magnificent night sky showing. While the Colo is often described as awild river, this is more to do with it being a haven for an abundance of plants and animals. The tranquil waters and tributaries that flow through here are part of the most extensive sandstone canyon system in eastern Australia. This pristine catchment area, an important place for local Aboriginal custodians, is one of Wollemi National Park's highlights.
Aboriginal art cave
Dunns Swamp: Dunns swamp, or Ganguddy as it is known to local Wiradjuri Aboriginal people, is a beautiful, serene waterway on the Cudgegong river, created when Kandos weir was built in the late 1920s. Keen eyes may turn up wallabies, purple swamphens and, at night, greater gliders while if you re really lucky, you might glimpse shy long-necked turtles and platypus in the weir. Ganguddy is perfect for a range of low-key recreational activities, from birdwatching and fishing to canoeing and swimming. You'll also find a network of easy walks offering expansive views over the Cudgegong river and Wollemi National Park.
Glow Worm Tunnel
Newnes is an abandoned oil shale mining site that was operational in the early 20th century. It was originally built by the Commonwealth Oil Corporation. The company built the 50 km Newnes railway line through very difficult country, particularly where the line descended into the Wolgan Valley from the plateau above. This railway is no longer in use and the rails have been removed. A 600 metre tunnel on the railway has survived as the Newnes glow worm tunnel, which has become something of a tourist attraction.
Glow Worm Tunnel
Ruins of the old town and its industrial section remain in the bush. There are many aboriginal sites within the park including cave paintings, axe grinding grooves and rock carvings. In 2003 the discovery of Eagle s Reach cave was publicly announced. Access Wollemi National Park via Wolgan Road, off Castlereagh Highway, north of lithgow. Access Glow Worm Tunnel via State Mine Gully Road from Lithgow.
Gardens of Stone National Park (57 km north): this park protects an ancient landscape of majestic cliffs and strange rock formations; the delicate and intricate pagoda rock formations are a prominent feature.
They occur near sandstone escarpment edges where erosion process have sculptured bee hive domes and a curious array of other shapes. The park has no facilities apart from a few fire trails which provide short walking opportunities and off track exploration for experienced walkers. Access Gardens of Stone National Park off Castlereagh Highway, north of lithgow.
Bordering on Wollemi National Park and the Blue Mountains, Capertee Valley (80 km north) is the largest enclosed valley of Australia provides spectacular views of rock formations and escarpments of what has been called Australia s unknown Grand Canyon. It is the second largest canyon in the world. Within the valley is the site of Glen Davis, a former oil shale mining town and works which lies at the end of the spectacular escarpments of the Capertee Valley. The Glen Davis Museum has an excellent display of the town and shale mining history.
Lithgow sits on the western edge of the sandstone country of the Blue Mountains and is usually considered the first country town west of Sydney. It is surrounded by a varied landscape which includes national parks. The Wollemi National Park is home to the Jurassic-age tree the Wollemi Pine, which was found growing in a remote canyon in the park.
The town is the centre of a coal mining district and there are two coal-powered power stations nearby. It is the site of Australia s first commercially-viable steel mill, the ruins of which are open for inspection at Blast Furnace Park.
Due to the abundance of coal and relative proximity to Sydney, in the areas surrounding Lithgow are two of the largest power stations in NSW, the Mount Piper and Wallerawang power stations. Both are operated by Delta Electricity.