Description and history
The Wolgan Valley is formed by the Wolgan River in rugged mountainous country west of Sydney and north of the city of Lithgow. It flows broadly east until it joins the Capertee River, after which it becomes the Colo River. The latter then continues east through rugged wilderness country. The Wolgan Valley includes sections of the Wollemi National Park and the Gardens of Stone National Park.
The valley was inhabited by Indigenous Australians for thousands of years, but the First European settlement occurred around 1823, when James Walker used the valley as an outstation from his Wallerawang settlement. It is best known for its historic railway tunnel and the former Commonwealth Oil Corporation shale oil mining operations at Newnes.
The Railway tunnel formed part of a 50km long heavy haul line between Newnes and Newnes junction on the main western railway. 4 heavy Shay type locomotives were used to haul the products of the works at Newnes up grades as steep as 1 in 25.
The name of the Wolgan Valley is derived from "wolga", a local Australian Aboriginal language name for the climbing plant, Clematis aristata, found in coastal regions of the South-East states of Australia.
Within the Wolgan Valley there are several significant Aboriginal sites. These include Blackfellows Hand which is a collection of Aboriginal hand stencils located near Wolgan Gap, and several Aboriginal burial sites.
The bush walking trails in the area include the Pipeline Pass, which goes from Newnes to Glen Davis, and the Wolgan Valley Heritage Trail (see links below), as well as the track from Newnes to the Glowworm Tunnel. There are also camping grounds that are open to the public. The valley also contains numerous slot canyons and is popular for rockclimbing.
Commercial tourism came to the valley in 2009 in the form of the Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa. This project was opened by Emirates Hotels and Resorts after examining several sites in Australia.
- Gregory's State Road Map of New South Wales, Map 221, 11th Edition
- Sydney and Blue Mountains Bushwalks, Neil Paton (Kangaroo Press) 2004, p.308
- Escape supplement, p.16, Sunday Telegraph, 4.10.09
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