Marrangaroo, New South Wales

Coordinates: 33°26′0″S 150°07′0″E / 33.43333°S 150.11667°E / -33.43333; 150.11667
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New South Wales
Marrangaroo is located in New South Wales
Coordinates33°26′0″S 150°07′0″E / 33.43333°S 150.11667°E / -33.43333; 150.11667
Population909 (2016 census)[1]
Elevation1,200 m (3,937 ft)
LGA(s)City of Lithgow
State electorate(s)Bathurst
Federal division(s)Calare
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
19.1 °C
66 °F
6.3 °C
43 °F
786.9 mm
31 in
Localities around Marrangaroo:
Wallerawang Lidsdale
Mount Lambie Marrangaroo Lithgow
Rydal Bowenfels Lithgow

Marrangaroo is a village in the Central West of New South Wales, Australia in the City of Lithgow. The name is also applied to the surrounding area, for postal and statistical purposes.


Marrangaroo is located a few kilometres west of Lithgow. It is accessible from the Great Western Highway, and has no railway station and little bus services. Lithgow Buslines, run buses between Lithgow and Bathurst, which makes limited stops at Marrangaroo on the Great Western Highway. A main feature of Marrangaroo was the Trout Farm which was opposite the Lithgow Correctional Centre. At the 2016 census, Marrangaroo had a population of 909.[1]

The area in the north-east of the Marrangaroo bounded locality is now a part of the Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area.[3][4]


Empty 110 kg (250 lb) bombs

Marrangaroo Army Camp situated at the end of Reserve Road used to be a major ammunition depot from 1941 to the late 1980s. It was served by a three kilometres siding that branched off from the Main Western railway line from March 1942 until May 1988.[5] It is now used for demolitions and various training by all three Australian Defence Force services. During World War II it housed chemical warfare facilities; at the time, one of Australia's best kept secrets. Marrangaroo was the administration headquarters for all of the Royal Australian Air Force Chemical Weapon Stores which were kept in tunnels and sidings at Marrangaroo (old tunnel and siding near correctional centre), Glenbrook Tunnel in the Blue Mountains, Clarence Tunnel (that is now part of the Lithgow Zig Zag) and Picton tunnel in Sydney's south.[6]

During an interview with Plunkett in 2005, chemical warfare armourer, Geoff Burn mentioned he had been involved in the burial of 110-kilogram (250 lb) phosgene bombs near the entrance to the headquarters in 1943. He was subsequently recalled from Cairns in 1944 to identify the site but was unsure as to whether and if the bombs had been extracted. After Burn marked the site on an aerial map a ground search revealed they were still there. The legacy of these weapons remains with several hundred empty chemical munition containers being found buried at Marrangaroo Army Camp from May 2008 to February 2009.[7][8]

A remediation project to remove heavy metal contamination started in November 2008 with a secondary task to remove any more buried chemical munitions. The revelation of Marrangaroo's history sparked significant local media interest.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15] The Department of Defence established a website for community consultation and feedback on the decontamination.[16]


Marrangaroo station c. 1950s.

A railway station opened at Marrangaroo on the Main Western line in 1878 and closed in 1974. Little trace of it remains.[17] Also, it has been suggested as the western terminus for the proposed Bells Line Expressway. But this now unlikely to proceed. [18]

Preceding station Former Services Following station
towards Bourke
Main Western Line Bowenfels
towards Sydney

Shale oil[edit]

During the 1870s, there was an oil shale mine at 'Bathgate', probably named after Bathgate, in Scotland, which was the site of a shale oil industry. 'Bathgate' lay on Dr Mackenzie's property, about a mile from the Main Western railway line at the point where it passed through the original Marrangaroo tunnel.[19][20][21][22] The operation at 'Bathgate' was ultimately unsuccessful, although more oil shale was discovered, about a mile away, in 1888.[23]

During the calendar years 1943 to 1945 inclusive, Lithgow Oil Proprietary Ltd, at Marrangaroo, produced around 2,000,000 gallons of crude shale oil. Under wartime conditions, that company had designed and constructed its own NTU retorts based on information from a Bureau of Mines publication. The crude shale oil was refined at the Glen Davis Shale Oil Works.[24][25] The Marrangaroo oil shale deposit was small but exceptionally rich, assaying 237 US gallons per long ton.[24]

Heritage listings[edit]

Marrangaroo has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Marrangaroo)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 11 April 2021. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ Marrangaroo Postcode Australia Post
  3. ^ "Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area". NSW Environment and Heritage. 25 May 2023. Retrieved 24 August 2023.
  4. ^ "Marrangaroo · New South Wales 2790, Australia". Google Maps. Retrieved 24 August 2023.
  5. ^ Marangaroo Railway Digest August 1988 page 312
  6. ^ Plunkett, Geoff (2007). Chemical Warfare in Australia (PDF). Bayswater, Victoria: Shannon Books. ISBN 9781876439880. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  7. ^ Ashworth, Len (7 August 2008). "Base's phantom war reveals its secrets" (PDF). Lithgow Mercury. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  8. ^ Ashworth, Len (9 August 2008). "Chemical warfare left its legacy" (PDF). Lithgow Mercury. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  9. ^ Ashworth, Len (17 July 2008). "Chemical experiments in the Eighties". Lithgow Mercury. Archived from the original on 18 July 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  10. ^ Ashworth, Len (17 July 2008). "Hidden Newnes Forest storage has added to military puzzle" (PDF). Lithgow Mercury. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 March 2017. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  11. ^ Ashworth, Len (5 August 2008). "Railway historians join chemical warfare issue" (PDF). Lithgow Mercury. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  12. ^ Ashworth, Len (17 July 2008). "Chemical experiments in the Eighties" (PDF). Lithgow Mercury. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  13. ^ Ashworth, Len (8 July 2008). "Mustard gas tainted our reputation" (PDF). Lithgow Mercury. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  14. ^ Vollmer, Tim (22 September 2008). "Chemical bombs sit metres from Lithgow families for 60 years". The Daily Telegraph. Australia. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  15. ^ Geddes, Jeff (7 February 2009). "Cleansing our military 'sins'" (PDF). Lithgow Mercury. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  16. ^ "Marrangaroo Army Depot Environmental Remediation Project". Department of Defence. 6 August 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  17. ^ "Marrangaroo station". Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  18. ^ Bells Line of Road corridor improvement program Roads & Maritime 21 December 2017
  19. ^ "THE UNDERGROUND PERMANENT WEALTH OP NEW SOUTH WALES". Illustrated Sydney News and New South Wales Agriculturalist and Grazier. 27 September 1873. p. 6. Retrieved 2 November 2022.
  20. ^ "MOUNT VICTORIA". Illustrated Sydney News and New South Wales Agriculturalist and Grazier. 22 November 1873. p. 21. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  21. ^ "Geological map (with sections) showing position of kerosene shale seam at Marangaroo, Kerosene Vale or Bathgate". Trove. Retrieved 5 June 2022.
  22. ^ "Marrangaroo Tunnel (1st)". Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  23. ^ "Fresh Discovery of Shale at Lithgow". Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser. 21 July 1888. p. 150. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  24. ^ a b Kraemer, A.J.; Thorne, H.M. (July 1951). Oil Shale Operations in New South Wales, Australia (PDF). United States Department of the Interior. pp. 10, 11, 42. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  25. ^ "Lithgow Shale Oil Plant Closed Down". Newcastle Morning Herald & Miners' Advocate. 17 November 1945. p. 3. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  26. ^ "Marrangaroo railway viaduct". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H01046. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.

External links[edit]

Media in Wikimedia Commons under Category: Marrangaroo, New South Wales