9 unexpected things to do in Lithgow
Threaded by seven sweeping valleys, the Lithgow region is full of unexpected natural wonders. From tunnels home to flickering glow worms to mushroom foraging and even a Japanese bathhouse, a journey here may just surprise you.
Discover your animal instincts
The Lithgow countryside is home to a roll call of Australian wildlife: you’ll find platypuses, wombats, echidnas, kangaroos, bush lizards and more. Discover the local fauna and plenty more when you check in to Turon Gates Mountain Retreat, sitting pretty amid 2,400 hectares of wild bushland – the perfect backdrop for cottages, log cabins and glamping tents. Binoculars are provided.
Quench your thirst
Exploring the NSW countryside is thirsty work. Enter Craft Works Distillery, where you can sip seriously tasty Capertee Craft Gin and Whisky, created by Craig “Crafty” Field, or take a bottle back to your lodgings for sundowners. The batches are small, but the flavours pack a punch. And the cellar door is the perfect place to discover just what goes into making quality Australian spirits.
Walk this way
The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area covers one million hectares of rugged wilderness, sheer cliffs, deep canyons and bird-filled wetlands. Your task when hiking with Wolgan Valley Eco Tours is to see just how many of the region’s more than 400 animal species you can count. There are also glow worms tucked away in tunnels shrouded by ferny groves that appear to have slipped from the pages of a fairytale. Talented guides will explain how this pocket of the state is home to the highly endangered, Jurassic-age Wollemi Pine, thought to be extinct before being rediscovered in 1994.
Indulge in field-to-fork foraging
It’s not just animals that thrive in the Lithgow region – herbs, vegetables and flowers also blanket the countryside. If you didn’t know better, you’d walk straight past them. But with forager Diego Bonetto you’ll gain a new appreciation for wild edibles. Time of year pending, join the environmental educator to seek out delectable pine mushrooms. His workshops are not only educational, but highly entertaining. Plus you get to eat just-picked produce.
Meet a craftsman
The circa 1830s village of Hartley is a beautifully preserved slice of the past, but it’s also home to something very modern – the metal artworks of blacksmith and artisan Ron Fitzpatrick. At on the main street, you can admire his works – everything from jewellery and garden ornaments to glass sculptures – and may even spot Fitzpatrick himself at work in the forge.
Soak away your worries
A traditional onsen may not be the first thing that springs to mind when picturing regional NSW – but once you’ve visited the Japanese Bath House, you won’t be able to imagine Lithgow without it. Soak away your troubles as you ease into the steaming mineral-rich thermal waters; your outlook is the ripples of Lake Lyell and Zen-style Japanese gardens. If you arrived feeling distracted, you’ll leave in a state of bliss.
Admire art on the big scale
Creativity can flourish in the most surprising places, and in Portland’s former cement works, this little town has a big attraction. Welcome to, an industrial heritage space transformed with installations and large-scale murals by artist Guido van Helten, whose creations on the silos are arresting. Come here for monthly markets, pop-up galleries and festivals.
Get some perspective
Australia’s version of the Grand Canyon, the Capertee Valley is wider (but just not quite as deep) as its American counterpart. It’s hard to fathom just how vast it is – unless you have a little aerial perspective, that is. Jump in a chopper with Capertee Valley Helicopters to soar over gorges and ridges for anywhere between 15min and an hour. Eagle-eyed travellers may even be able to spot walking tracks to further explore when back on land.
Prepare for things to get cheesy
If you like your cheese with a side of earthiness, you won’t want to miss. This award-winning, family-owned fromagerie produces artisan natural yoghurt, fresh curd, ricotta, chèvre, miette… and many other delicious semi-hard kinds of cheese. Visit for a free tasting and to meet the long-lashed “ladies” (i.e. goats) that will make your experience so tasty.