OverviewGreater Lithgow's picturesque valley location and the surrounding rugged Australian bush make it an ideal destination for bushwalkers, campers and nature lovers. It is also a great agricultural district, and many of the area's delicious apples, pears and an assortment of stone fruit can be bought streetside, or from a number of orchards in the district.
Lithgow is peppered with many historical buildings and interesting relics from a by-gone era; however it is the sight, sound and smell of a steam train that continues to be Lithgow's main attraction. The Great Lithgow Zig Zag railway was originally constructed in 1869, and was acclaimed as a major engineering feat for its time. The Zig Zag, one of the most exciting and breathtaking stretches of railway built in Australia, ran from the top of the Blue Mountains escarpment at Newnes Junction into the Lithgow Valley, down a sheer precipice. Built onto the cliff faces, the railway tracks were laid in a 'z' shaped pattern, including 2 reversing stations known as Top and Bottom point. It was this 'zig-zag' formation that allowed trains to descend and climb without excessive gradients. The turn of the century and the arrival of new technologies saw the removal of the Zig Zag railway, but in 1975 steam trains returned to the valley as a major tourist attraction. Visitors to the Railway begin their 12 km journey at Clarence, then ride through many beautiful mountain sights arriving at Top Point. The train then reverses and descends to Bottom Point. The highlight of the trip is the return upgrade to Clarence, which affords visitors the most spectacular view and gives the train the opportunity to work 'full steam'. There are picnic and BBQ places along the line, and the train will stop along the way to let visitors off and pick them up afterwards.
Other heritage attractions in the area include Hartley Historic Site situated on the banks of the Lett River at the foot of River Lett Hill, Esbank House, a delightful sandstone home originally built in the 1840s now fully restored and furnished in period style. The House also functions as a museum, with a variety of displays describing the history of the valley including its mining, wool milling and steel industry, and houses a number of historical pieces.
Blast Furnace Park is another of Lithgow's attractions. Originally established in 1886, the remaining shell of the pumphouse, and relics of the blast furnace serve as a tribute to Lithgow's earlier great steel industry, and have become the centrepiece of Lithgow's rich industrial history. Similarly the Lithgow Pottery, dating back to 1833, provides an insight into another of Lithgow's industries.
Other interesting historical sites in the area include Hoskins Uniting Church, an early 20th century Gothic-style sandstone church, and Oakey Park Colliery at Poppet Head. The Small Arms Factory first opened in 1912 - famous for the production of the Lee Enfield 303 rifle. - and the historic buildings of Bowenfells, Newnes and Hartley Vale also make for interesting heritage tours.
Lithgow is surrounded by a number of National Parks. The largest of these is the Wollemi National Park along its north-eastern and northern boundaries. Withinin the Wollemi is some spectacular scenery. The Wollemi is home of a tree that has survived since the Jurassic Period. The tree was discovered by a NPWS ranger named Dave Noble and was given the name "Wollemia nobilis" or Wollemi Pine. A search on Yahoo Australia and entering Wollemi National Park in the search box and only using the au button you will find many references to the Park. Here I have been only able to give a few links. Also around the area is the Blue Mountains NP, the Abercrombie River NP, the Gardens Of Stone NP and the Kanangra-Boyd NP and many magnificent lookouts including Bracey Lookout, which provides visitors with panoramic views of the city of Lithgow. Aside from its magnificent mountain views, Lithgow is also close to two beautiful lakes; Lake Lyell is 15 km south east of Lithgow, and Lake Wallace 13 km away. Both have outstanding views and offer picnic and recreation facilities.
About an hour south of Lithgow is the beautiful Jenolan Caves an area that is a must on any visit to Lithgow.
Also popular in Lithgow are many attractions and self-drive tours of the district and tours of the Glow Worm Tunnel.
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This page is Copyright © October 1998 by Pat Cox
Last updated September 2002