Info Blue Mountains Railway Pages
Hartley Vale
3 Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia.
Kerosene shale workings 1865-1921
Industrial archaeology, bushwalking.


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 respected.

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 bushwalkersmountain 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 beyond. 

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.

Hartley Historic Village - Lithgow Tourism

A: Ash dump Map of Hartely Vale, Blue Mountains.
B: Bunker siding
C: Candle factory
I: Comet Inn
M: Manager's house
To Hartley
S: School
To Mt Victoria


A worker poses beside three tankers as they wait to be hauled up the Hartley Vale incline; 1906.


NSW Government Printer

The Shale Railways of NSW

Main incline, Hartley Vale, Blue Mountains.

The candle factory at Hartley Vale in 1906. The boxes are labelled "Hartley Pure Wax Candles". Note the candelabras on the wall.


NSW Government Printer

The Shale Railways of NSW



Candle factory, Hartley Vale, Blue Mountains


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