Venture west of the Blue Mountains to discover the vast Lithgow area, a landscape of rolling hills and rugged mountain passes that surprises with a wealth of natural treasures, from hidden valleys and world-beating canyons, to show-stopping caves and dense wilderness harbouring secrets of the Jurassic era. Dig a little deeper to discover a fascinating local history and a rich industrial past that is inspiring a new wave of cultural pursuits.
A rural paradise
Wind your way down the convict-hewn Victoria Pass from Mount Victoria, enter the beautiful Hartley Valley, a rural paradise dotted with sandstone inns that once hosted Cobb & Co coaches. Visit the National Parks-managed Hartley village for a well-preserved insight into colonial days; or pause for lunch in the beautifully-restored Ambermere Inn.
Forty minutes from Lithgow, make another dramatic descent into the sublime Wolgan Valley, nestled between towering sandstone cliffs. Here you’ll find the luxurious Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Resort as well as the fascinating shale mining ghost town of Newnes, its old pub the only intact building amongst hidden industrial ruins.
Take to wonder at twinkling glow worms in a disused railway tunnel; or take an immersive guided tour of the Wollemi National Park – famed for its secret cluster of ancient ‘dinosaur trees’, the Wollemi Pine – with Wolgan Valley Eco Tours.
Vast & grand
Capertee Valley is Australia’s Grand Canyon, one kilometre wider but not as deep or long as its more famous American counterpart. Here you’ll find spectacular walks, camping and a bird watching trail, as well as incredible glamping under the stars at Bubbletent Australia. For a bird’s eye view, take a joy flight with Capertee Valley Helicopters.
History becomes art
In the heart of Lithgow, explore the birthplace of Australia’s steel industry at the recently-restored Blast Furnace Park; or visit the highest lookout in the Greater Blue Mountains at Hassans Walls, offering incredible 270 degree views across the district. Continue onto Portland where the former cement factory tis being converted into an arts precinct called The Foundations, marked by some incredible silo art by renowned muralist Guido van Helten.
After a year of closures due to bushfires, floods, landslides and viruses, the magical Jenolan Caves has reopened some of its beautiful show caves. Nearby, celebrate the seasons at the beautiful formal garden of Mayfield Garden near Oberon.
Relax at the Japanese Garden & Bathhouse, an authentic experience of Japanese culture, on the edge of Lyell Lake just outside Lithgow. With an onsen-style outdoor hot spring bath, a tea house, a Zen temple garden and massages, the complex also offers unique Japanese-style accommodation.
Getting there & where to stay
The Lithgow area is west of the Blue Mountains, a 2hr 30min drive from Sydney along the Great Western Highway or via the Bells Line of Road. The Blue Mountains trainline from Sydney’s Central Station terminates at Lithgow – the journey takes around three hours.
The region boasts some of the most coveted luxury accommodation in NSW, including the five-star Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley resort, and the unique glamping of Bubbletent Australia. There is also a great choice of heritage accommodation such as the historic cottages at Hartley, grand manor houses such as Caves House at Jenolan and romantic self-contained cabins.