Lithgow is located 142 kilometres west of Sydney and is approximately 935 metres above sea level.
With a population of approximately 12,516, the town retains its country charm and many of its heritage features.
Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the area was home to the Wiradjuri Aboriginal people.
Lithgow was officially named by the explorer Hamilton Hume in 1827. He named the growing settlement in honour of William Lithgow, who at the time, was both Governor Brisbane’s private secretary and the auditor- general of the colony of New South Wales.
With the road over the Blue Mountains completed in 1815, settlers began arriving in the area soon after.
Scotsman Andrew Brown was the first settler to the Lithgow area in 1824. He established “Cooerwull” at what is now Bowenfels. Utilising Cooerwull Brook, he established a water driven flour mill to process the wheat that he and other settlers in the area were growing. Later, with the discovery of coal on the property, the mill was converted to steam in 1851. By 1867 the mill itself was repurposed to allow for the manufacture of woollen tweeds. The manufacture of tweed at this heritage listed site continued until 1973.
The second property in the valley belonged to Thomas Brown, who established “Eskbank”.
The Georgian style sandstone house was built in 1842 for the young Scottish gentleman and his wife, Mary. Eskbank House still stands today and is a now a museum where time appears to have stood still. Eskbank House is also home to possibly the largest collection of Lithgow pottery in Australia.
The first commercial coal mine commenced in 1869, by Thomas Brown. When iron ore was discovered on Brown’s “Eskbank” property, iron smelting was a natural progression by 1875. Soon after a blast furnace was producing 100 tons of pig iron a week.
By 1866 construction of a railway line had commenced.
The Zig Zag railway, a marvel of engineering, was completed by 1869 at the same time as the Victorian gothic style Bowenfels Station. The Chief Engineer was John Whitton, now known as the Father of New South Wales railways. Whitton’s works in Lithgow also include the heritage listed Bowenfels Viaduct, and the Lithgow underbridge that carries the Main Western line over James Street.
Other industries included Thomas Mort’s abattoirs and meat refrigeration works which commenced in 1875. Surplus tallow from Mort’s abattoirs was used to make soap in a factory in Soapy Gully- an area now known as State Mine Gully. The Lithgow Pottery started soon after in 1876.
Four brickworks were established in the town by 1889, and by 1894 William Sandford had initiated Australia’s first galvanising and corrugating works.
The Lithgow Blast Furnace was constructed between 1906 and 1907, by William Sandford. It was built for the sole purpose of smelting iron from ore. With a rich industrial heritage, step back in time to explore Lithgow and the ruins of the beginnings of Australia’s iron and steel industry at Blast Furnace Park or take a tour of the State Mine Heritage Park to learn about working underground in the Lithgow region, mining coal and shale in days gone by.
For lovers of history, the Small Arms Factory Museum, Eskbank House, the WW2 Gun Emplacements and many other historic buildings have stood the test of time and are still here today, waiting to be explored.
Today, you can take a leisurely walk along Lithgow’s History Avenue in Inch Street, a timeline of sculptures representing Lithgow’s amazing history and heritage.
Surrounded by seven National Parks, and many State Forests, Reserves and Conservation areas, Lithgow is a popular destination for those who love nature and adventure!
As a growing hub for creatives, Lithgow has galleries and an engaging street art scene to discover. Great cafes and restaurants, iconic lookouts, parks, bike tracks, scenic drives and so much more….
Whether you come for a day or stay a little longer, we know you will love Lithgow.