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Lithgow, New South Wales

New South Wales, Australia

Lithgow at dusk

Lithgow, New South Wales is located in New South Wales
Lithgow, New South Wales
Population: 11,298 [1]
Postcode: 2790
Elevation: 950 m (3,117 ft) [2]
Location: 150 km (93 mi) from Sydney
LGA: City of Lithgow
County: Cook
Parish: Lett
State District: Bathurst
Federal Division: Calare
Mean Max Temp Mean Min Temp Annual Rainfall
18.3 °C
65 °F
6.3 °C
43 °F
860.1 mm
33.9 in

Lithgow, New South Wales is a city in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales, Australia and is the centre of the local political division City of Lithgow. It is located in a mountain valley named Lithgow's Valley by John Oxley in honour of William Lithgow, the first Auditor-General of New South Wales.

Lithgow is on the Great Western Highway, about 150 km (93 mi) or two hours drive west of Sydney,[3] or via the old mountain route, Bells Line of Road, from Windsor. Geographically, it is situated on the far western side of the Sydney basin.[4]

Lithgow is surrounded by a varied landscape which includes national parks, one of which, the Blue Mountains National Park, is a World Heritage Area. The Wollemi National Park is home to the Jurassic-age tree the Wollemi Pine, which was found growing in a remote canyon in the park.[4]


The city sits on the western edge of the sandstone country of the Blue Mountains and is usually considered the first true country town west of Sydney. Immediate surrounding areas include the old mining hamlet of Vale of Clywydd and Oakey Park, a famous iron and steel village, of which fiery night scenes have been depicted in many paintings, as well as large areas of bush and state forest. The next city to the West is Bathurst, 60 km (37 mi) away.

Lithgow is in the NSW State electorate of Bathurst, while federally it is part of electorate of Calare. Lithgow benefits from being the western terminus for the electric section of the Main Western railway line from Sydney, and of CityRail's intercity Blue Mountains railway line. Lithgow is home to the iconic zig-zag railway.


The mountainous terrain of the Blue Mountains and the expense of building long tunnels required the construction of The Great Zig Zag railway between 1866 and 1869. The line was opened as far as Bowenfels, just to the west, in 1869, but Lithgow station was not opened until 1877. Although it was superseded in 1910 by more modern engineering methods, including ten tunnels, parts of the Zig Zag have been developed into a popular tourist attraction.[5]

The town is the centre of a coal mining district and there are two coal-powered power stations nearby. It is the site of Australia's first commercially-viable steel mill,[6] the ruins of which are open for inspection at "Blast Furnace Park".

Due to the abundance of coal and relative proximity to Sydney, in the areas surrounding Lithgow are two of the largest power stations in NSW, the Mount Piper and Wallerawang power stations. Both are operated by Delta Electricity.

Lithgow has many heritage sites. The following are listed on the Register of the National Estate:[7]

  • Former Station Master's Residence (now Caddie's Restaurant), a sandstone cottage designed by John Clifton and built in 1869
  • Zig Zag Railway, designed by John Whitton, built by Patrick Higgins
  • Ironworks Blast Furnace, Eskbank, 1875 to 1930
  • Eskbank House, Bennett Street, built by Thomas Brown in 1842
  • Lithgow Valley Pottery Site Kiln, 1875 to 1908
  • Lithgow Court House, corner Bridge and Mort Streets, a brick building in the Arts and Crafts style
  • De La Salle Cottage (formerly Cooerwull Academy), Rabaul Street, a stone building in the Victorian Gothic Revival style, built circa 1882
  • Methven, Lidsdale Road, a sandstone house built by Andrew Brown in the 1870s

Lithgow was also the location of an alleged assassination attempt on the life of Queen Elizabeth II in 1970.[8]

Tourist attractions[]

Lithgow is adjacent to a number of national parks and other attractions. Places to visit include the Zig Zag Railway, Glow Worm Tunnel, Secret Creek Sanctuary, Newnes in the Wolgan Valley and Glen Davis in the Capertee Valley, the second largest canyon in the world.[9]

Other places include the Hartley Historic Site, Small Arms Factory Museum, State Mine Heritage Park and the Eskbank House Museum. Lithgow is also close to Jenolan Caves, which are a World Heritage Area and lie to the south of Lithgow.

By far the biggest tourist attraction, in terms of visitor numbers, in Lithgow is the Lithgow Ironfest. This annual cultural heritage event attracts over 10,000 visitors a year. Ironfest hosts the annual St George's Day Jousting Tournament which involves contestants from all around the World.

Another major part of Ironfest is the colonial battle re-enactment, called the 'Battle of Lithgow' which involves over 120 participants, kitted out in fully authentic 19th century apparel, and involving cavalry, infantry and artillery.

As well as these two major historical re-enactment events Ironfest comprises historical & auto displays, blacksmith demonstrations, art exhibitions, live music and performance, art making workshops & demonstrations, and much more.

The Lithgow Greyhound Racing Club is also a popular tourist attraction for sports enthusiasts with Lithgow Workers Club sponsoring the ($5000 to the winner) Lithgow Golden Muzzle every summer. Another feature race of interest at Lithgow is the Quickstitch Cup every spring, which honours a dog who came out of retirement in 1982 at the age of five years and two months to break the 706m track record in winning the John Redden Trophy. Other dogs in the field that day were almost two years younger than Quickstitch, owned and trained by George and Noeline Costandis, of Londonderry. The race is sponsored by Media Director of St George Marketing & Public Relations, Reagan Murphy, who was the handler of Quickstitch, Odious, Ungwilla Lad, General Jeff and He's Some Boy in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Iron and steel industry[]

In 1848, iron smelting began in Mittagong, Australia. It proved unprofitable for the remainder of the 19th century. This situation remained until the early 20th century when no iron ore was being smelted. The only iron being cast was by William Sandford in Lithgow. His works were bought by G.&C. Hoskins in 1907, who had previously been making iron pipes in Sydney. The Lithgow works acquired a reputation for industrial disputes.

Electronic media in Lithgow is represented by commercial radio stations 2LT-AM and 107.9 MOVE FM, public broadcasters ABC and SBS, and commercial networks Prime7, WIN and Southern Cross Ten with digital channels 7TWO, 7mate, GEM, GO!, One HD and Eleven.


Lithgow features an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) with warm summers, cool to cold winters and generally steady precipitation year-round.

Climate data for Lithgow (Birdwood St)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 25.5
Average low °C (°F) 11.9
Precipitation mm (inches) 94.3
Source: [2]

Notable Lithgow residents[]

  • Andrew Brown – the first European settler of the Lithgow Valley and a prominent industrialist and philanthropist[10]
  • John Doyle AM – a comedian of the duo Roy and HG, was born in Lithgow[11]
  • Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, AC CVO MBE – a former athlete and Olympic gold medalist (The Lithgow Flash) and later, Governor of South Australia, was raised in Lithgow
  • Laurie Oakes – a journalist, was educated at Lithgow High School, being dux in 1961[12]
  • David Palmer – a champion squash player, was born in Lithgow[13]
  • Marty Roebuck – a former Australian rugby union Wallabies fullback, was born in Lithgow[14]


See also[]


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Lithgow (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  2. ^ a b "Climate statistics for Lithgow (Birdwood St)". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 18 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Robinson's Road Atlas of Australia, Edition 8 (Lansdowne Press) 1983, Map 204
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Bozier, Rolfe, ed. "Main Western Line". Retrieved 29 November 2006. 
  6. ^ Grunbach, A (September 2000). "An Episode in our Troubled Steel Industry". Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin: 323–331. 
  7. ^ The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981, pp.2/264-265
  8. ^ Malkin, Bonnie; Pierce, Andrew (27 January 2009). "Queen and Prince Philip were 'victims' of Australian assassination attempt". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 25 August 2009. 
  9. ^ "Capertee Valley". Lithgow Visitor Information Centre. Retrieved 20 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Andrew Brown". Lithgow Tourism. Auzziebiz. 2009. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  11. ^ Doyle, John (9 July 2006) (transcript). The Songlines Conversations. Interview with Gregg Borschmann. Big Ideas. ABC Radio National. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  12. ^ Williams, Brett (December 2009). "To live and breathe politics" (PDF). Police Journal: 26–27, 47. Retrieved on 18 May 2012. 
  13. ^ "David Troy Palmer - Bio". David Palmer Biography. Team Palmer. 2005. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 
  14. ^ "Marty Roebuck player profile". ESPN EMEA Ltd. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 

External links[]

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