|Hartley Vale today is a tranquil rural area,
nestled against the bush-covered ridges of the western Blue Mountains. Nearby is the
Hartley Historic Site, where convict-built sandstone buildings have been preserved.
Visitors would never guess that this was once the site of mines and industrial facilities.
From 1813 to 1824, William Lawson was engaged in the construction
of a by-pass road, to avoid the steep gradients associated with Cox's road down Mt York
(on the western escarpment near Mt Victoria). This road followed a gully called Long
Alley, now known as Lawson's Long Alley. Lawson reported, to the Governor, finding a
three-foot seam of "coal".
The "coal" was, in fact, kerosene
shale or torbanite.
Mining commenced in the 1860's, with the ore being carried by horse and cart to the
railway, thence by rail to Sydney for refining. Following the extension of the railway to
Bowenfels (near Lithgow), a narrow-gauge line was constructed from the main rail line into
the valley, and the valley's operations extended.
As shown on the map, a meter-gauge railway line was
constructed along Reedy Creek. This served mine tunnels and adits*, connecting them to
such facilities as retorts, a refinery, and candle making factory. A single cable incline
was employed for haulage out of the valley, after which a locomotive was again used for
the run to the Great Western Railway.
*Adit: a horizontal approach to a mine.
A 2 foot gauge line, which included an incline, was also
constructed to serve several mine shafts, mostly for coal.
Much of Hartley Vale is private property; owners rights should be
Hartley Vale Station, now abandoned, is located on the
Main Western Line on the Darling Causeway, a narrow ridge separating the Grose and Coxs
River Valleys in the upper Blue Mountains. It is about half-way between Mt Victoria and
Bell. Workers at the siding had little or no protection from the freezing winds, rain and
sometimes snow which were funnelled up the valleys and over the ridge.
Take a Walk - Find Ruins & an Excellent View
The metre gauge railway route from the main road to near the top of
the incline exists today as a track, which leaves the Darling Causeway
road immediately adjacent to the Harley Vale turnoff. It is suitable for bushwalkers,
mountain bike riders & cars with
decent ground clearance. Remains of the incline are easily found, along
with brick & sandstone ruins of the winding house, & other
relics. There is an excellent view of Hartley Vale & the Coxs Valley
Hartley Historic Site
Hartley Historic Site is a nineteenth century village,
located on the Great Western Highway between Mt Victoria and Lithgow. Buildings include an
impressive sandstone courthouse, churches and inns. Guided tours are available.
Historic Village - Lithgow Tourism