Monday, November 12, 2007


A few weeks ago we took a wee day trip to Newnes, an shale-mining ghost town about 187 km from Sydney and about an hour's drive from home. The scenery is awesome as it is nestled at the end of the Wolgan Valley surrounded by spectacular sandstone escarpments.
This once thriving industrial town has few habitable buildings left. The Newnes Kiosk, formally the pub, has a long and colourful past. It used to be situated on the other side of the road on the banks of the Wolgan River but after being extensively damaged in a flood was moved to higher ground by a large group of volunteers over three days in '87.

As well as the glow worms in the disused rail tunnel the main attraction is the extensive ruins of the Refinery and Shale processing plant. They cover a huge area and it's the closest thing we may have to a classical Archaeological site.

Old photos of the mill in its heyday show the "dark Satanic Mills" that produced Coke, Crude Oil, Kerosene and Benzine. The company that started the whole venture in 1906 never prospered and despite other owners and Government schemes the plant ceased production in 1932.

The entire area is now part of Wollemi National Park and the bush is gradually reclaiming the coke ovens, the retorts, the ammonia scrubbers, the pump houses and Paraffin Sheds. Considering the amount of toxic and noxious material that must have produced in the area it is a wonder that anything grows at all.
We plan to go back there again in the cool of Autumn and stay at the large picturesque camping ground or (my preference) the solar powered cabins. Deep in the valley with no phone reception, no TV, no computer - just walks and books and knitting.

1 comment:

amanda j said...

I can imagine some futuristic Time Team working on the site and making assumptions about how life was way back when! Go THE BUSH!