Guns, Coal and Steel: Lithgow Heritage

From mining to arms building, Lithgow is sure to surprise you with its range of museums. Best known for its industrial heritage, Lithgow is also an exquisitely beautiful area boasting six national parks and rare flora and fauna.

On the western fringe of the Blue Mountains, just two hours from Sydney and at the gateway to the Central West, the Lithgow area is the perfect getaway. From Lithgow you can explore the Capertee Valley and Mudgee to the north, Jenolan Caves and Oberon to the south, Bathurst to the west and the Blue Mountains and Sydney to the east.

First stop is The Glen Museum in Portland. Developed and fostered by the late Charlie Pinch and his partner the late Valerie Risby, the collection focuses on the history of Portland and is wonderfully eclectic–one of the best displays being the huge range of buttons.

Stop at the charming village of Rydal for lunch and stroll around the town, itself a museum preserving the heritage of the area complete with charming buildings and well-tended gardens. Rydal was named after a village in England where the poet William Wordsworth lived. His poem “The Daffodils” inspired the planting of thousands of daffodil bulbs which are the focus of the annual Daffodil Festival.

The Lithgow Small Arms Factory is a big surprise. While you might expect to see lots of firearms, the factory was also responsible for the manufacturing of non-military products including sewing machines, shearing handsets, medical implements, tools, and golf clubs. The highlights still remain the arms though, this is a must see for anyone intrigued by old style weaponry. 

From there head to Eskbank House and Museum. Built in 1842 by a local stonemason for the first industrialist in town, a Mr Thomas Brown MLA, the house is one of the oldest residences in Lithgow Valley.

Eskbank operates as a historic home and museum and houses the one of the largest collections of Lithgow Pottery in Australia. The museum’s collection includes an example of the Black Rose of Lithgow. These smelted roses were first made in 1876 and became popular ornaments for coffins during the 1800s. 

Finish at the Lithgow State Mine Heritage and Railway. The museum’s collections of memorabilia and artefacts depict working life in Australia ’s coal mines. State Mines newest attraction is the spectra vision called Fire in the mine is the latest amazing exhibition at the Lithgow State Mine Heritage Park. Listen to Marion Curry tell her moving story of the dangers faced by miners in their everyday work. The exhibition utilizes the Spectra Vision technique to project a moving image into the display, an experience that needs to be seen to be believed. 

If you’re looking for a place to camp take a trip to nearby Newnes. Located within the World Heritage-listed Wollemi National Park, the area offers magnificent views of pagoda rock formations, an abandoned oil shake mine, and an incredible glowworm tunnel. Walk into the tunnel following the disused railway line that once descended into the Newnes Valley and transported the oil shale.

For more information about Lithgow accommodation and dining go to Visit NSW or Lithgow Tourism.

Museums & Galleries of NSW helps small-medium museums, galleries and Aboriginal cultural centres create exciting experiences for visitors and, through this, thriving local NSW communities. We don't run museums, galleries and cultural centres but we care about those who do. We develop their skills, connect them with others in the industry, provide funding, point visitors their way, and give them access to ground-breaking exhibitions.

Museums & Galleries of NSW is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

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