Deep in the bush, in the region which secreted the dinosaur of trees, the Wollemi pine, is hidden another secret. It is the industrial ghost settlement of Newnes, a testament to mans industry and a ruin of epic proportions.
We found this quite by accident as we toured down deep in to the Walgon Valley near Lithgow in NSW and stumbled across an all but abandoned old country pub… one without any beer. It didn’t have any food either, or anything much aside from some quaint little huts, which the entertaining bush proprietor let out to the weary traveller.
The pub was physically carried by locals from the ruins of Newnes and resurrected at the gateway to the ghost settlement, to welcome the most adventurous of travellers. In itself it is a story and you can wonder through the remnant and relics of a history long forgotten. On the wide verandah of the pub is settled all manner of chairs, they are comfy, basic and inviting in their arrangement, as inviting as the proprietor is and it was a entertaining visit.
From here you can drive down further to find the National Parks freecamp which is rolling green grasses, basic amenities (a windy drop loo) settled beside a fresh and wild running stream. The attraction aside from the peace and beauty of the area is the ghost town.
It takes an hour or two to make your way around the paths of the crumbling industrial town. From the coking furnaces (all 90 of them), which are amazing domes and are testament to an industry now long abandoned. You follow the paths high up into the skeletal remnant of brick buildings and the water reservoir that overlooks the town that is no more.
That man can create such industry so deep in the bush is a witness to his hunger for fuel, for it was shale oil that bought him here and it is amazing to what lengths men will labour for the precious juices of the earth, those which he values.
For us the value was in finding the wild camps along the creeks, where you are welcome to stay and recover from your adventure trolling the crumbling brickworks of the town. It is an epic journey into a history forgotten and toasting your toes to the sounds of the bush is an equally epic reward.
It was an odd delight to find this crumbling ruin of brickwork and industry deep in the forest but it bought to mind the fallibility of man when compared with the wonderful cliffs of sandstone which rise towering around you in the majestic escarpments of the valley.
The wilderness will eventually reclaim its own over time and for once I came away from a site of major industry feeling that Mother Nature will win in the end… ours.
Well worth a visit Newnes is. If only to show the vegemiters just who really rules the landscape.
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