SOME BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT NEWNES

  What is on this page:
Location Background When to Come Camping Accommodation Day Tripping
Weather Fires! Things to do Precautions Some things don't work at Newnes!
Go to the bottom of this page for links to other pages on this web-site.

Location:
Newnes is located in New South Wales, Australia, some 200km from Sydney. It is in the Wolgan Valley north of Lithgow and at the north-west end of the Blue Mountains. (The Wolgan River joins with the Capertee River to become the Colo River, a tributary of the Hawkesbury River that enters the sea at Broken Bay, north of Sydney.) Newnes is at the south-west edge of Wollemi National Park, part of the World Heritage listed Greater Blue Mountains area. Newnes is adjacent to the Wollemi Wilderness, the second-largest wilderness area in New South Wales.
See Getting to Newnes page for access details and sketch maps.

Background:
From about 1906 to the early 1930s, Newnes was the site of an oil-shale industrial development. At its peak, there were probably up to 2000 people living in the town, although for most of its operating life, numbers would have been considerably less. With the closure of the industry, the town died and today the last remaining building of the mining era is the old hotel. Even this has been relocated and is now de-licenced. A kiosk operates here on weekends and on an ad hoc basis during the week. When closed, it is private residence. Very little is left of the rest of the town, but there are extensive ruins remaining of the old industrial area.
See A Short History of Newnes page for details about the history of this area.
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When to come:
Wattle in bloom
  • The best times for camping are Spring and Autumn.
  • Winter is also a good time for a day visit, although days are short and it does get cold at night if you are camping.
  • Many people like to come in summer, but this is generally not recommended as it is a time of heat, flies and total firebans - so be suitably prepared.
  • Most people visit Newnes at weekends, and it can get crowded on long weekends.
  • Watch out for wet weather. The Wolgan Road in the valley is unsealed and road conditions can deteriorate fairly quickly when wet. Also, the river can rise quickly, so do not cross it in extended wet weather.
<--- August-September is Wattle blossom time at Newnes
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Camping:
Newnes is a popular place for campers.
Camping near the hotel: A small charge is levied on campers using the river flats near the hotel (this is private land). A booking system applies and, to avoid disappointment, it is advisable to pre-book campsites (ring 6355-1247), particularly for long weekends. Camping here includes use of the private toilet facilities at the hotel and well-behaved dogs are allowed. If you have not pre-booked, then, on weekends, call at the kiosk on arrival. During the week, the owner of the property will be in the kiosk area.
Camping in National Park areas: Currently, camping in other areas at Newnes is free, although the NP&WS may charge for camping at some future date. There is no booking system for camping within the national park; it is "first come, first served". Facilities are limited, with only pit-toilets in the main camping area and another near the track leading to the oil shale ruins. Please note that pets are not permitted in any National Park areas.
For more details and tips concerning camping at Newnes, see the Camping & Accommodation page.
At ALL times and in ALL areas, please be careful with fire.
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Accommodation:
NEWNES HOTEL HISTORIC WILDERNESS RETREAT
Cabin accommodation is now available at Newnes in a style that adds considerable comfort to your stay. Three cabins are now available. All have hot water, shower, septic toilet, kitchen area with fridge, gas stove and microwave oven, flued gas heater, plenty of storage room and views from the front porch.
• The "Wolgan" cabin sleeps up to six people, has disabled access and there is also an external barbeque area.
• The "Capertee" cabin can sleep up to 4 persons and is ideal for a couple or a family with up to two small children.
• The "Colo" cabin is similar to the "Capertee" cabin, but larger. It can also sleep up to 4 persons.
• For all cabins, you will need to bring your own linen and food.
To book your Newnes accommodation, ring (02) 6355-1247, not the kiosk number.
For more details, visit the "Newnes Hotel Historic Wilderness Retreat" web-site.
There is very limited alternative accommodation at Newnes or anywhere else in the Wolgan Valley, other than the Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa. This is a top-of-the line, international standard, six-star resort and is priced accordingly. More modest accommodation is available elsewhere in the Lithgow district, but they are all outside the Wolgan Valley. A full range of accommodation, from budget to luxury, is available in the Blue Mountains.
A brief list of nearest accommodation away from Newnes is given on the Camping & Accommodation page.
For a comprehensive list of places to stay in the Lithgow district, visit the Lithgow Visitor's Centre web site.
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Day Tripping:
  • Newnes is a great place to spend a day, particularly if you are staying somewhere in the Blue Mountains or in the Lithgow district.
  • Newnes can also be reached in a day trip from Sydney, although it is a bit over three hours drive each way.
  • A fine day in winter is probably the best time to visit for a day trip, but Autumn and Spring can be quite good as well.
  • Facilities, other than those located at the kiosk, are very limited and the only public toilets in the area are the pit-toilets located in the camping area and near the track leading to the oil-shale ruins.
Please remember to bring your own lunch
The kiosk is usually only open on weekends and then only sells soft drinks, ice creams and some confectionery.
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Some notes on the weather at Newnes
  • Newnes is located in the "Central Tablelands" weather district. Details for this area are usually listed in the Sydney Morning Herald daily weather page and sometimes in other papers.
  • The weather in Sydney (and even in Lithgow) is often different to weather conditions at Newnes, so a wet day in Sydney could well be a fine one at Newnes.
  • It is usually drier and less humid at Newnes than in Sydney.
  • The valley location of Newnes acts as a heat trap, so day temperatures are usually higher than (say) Lithgow.
  • In winter, avoid camping in the shadow of the cliffs - these places do not warm up during the day!
  • In winter, days are quite short, so don't start that long bushwalk too late in the day.
  • Do not start long walks if the weather looks as if it might rain.
  • Remember to bring your insect repellant! Flies are usually about during the day in all but the coldest weather, with possibly mosquitoes at night.
See the Current Conditions Page for details of weather at Newnes last weekend.
For on-line weather forecasts (Lithgow area), see: Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology.
For on the spot information (Saturdays and Sundays only) ring 6355-7355 during shop hours.
See next section for Bushfire and Fire Ban information & links.
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Lighting Fires at Newnes
  • At Newnes it is recommended that you use gas fires for cooking wherever possible and avoid lighting "open" (wood) fires, regardless of whether a fire ban is in force or not.
  • During the bushfire season, only certain types of fires are allowed without a permit (see below for details).
  • No fires of any type are allowed when a TOTAL FIRE BAN is in force.
  • Firewood is often difficult to find at Newnes, although the National Parks Service sometimes supplies scrap pine offcuts. Firewood is sometimes sold at the kiosk, generally in winter months. If you must have an open fire, it is strongly suggested that you bring your own firewood.
"TOTAL FIRE BANS"
  • Bushfire danger increases with hot, dry and/or windy weather. When conditions become extreme, a "Total Fire Ban" is usually declared.
  • "Total Fire Bans" are usually declared on a day-by-day basis, at short notice and often without prior warning. You should bring a radio and listen to it for weather reports.
  • No outdoor fires of any type (and that includes cigarettes) are permitted on a declared "Total Fire Ban" day.
  • Penalties for lighting fires on a "Total Fire Ban" day are up to $5500.00 and/or up to 12 months inprisonment. Ignorance is no excuse.
  • A "Total Park Fire Ban" is often imposed on the entire Wollemi National Park for the whole of the (October to March) bushfire season, regardless of the weather.
"PARK FIRE BANS"
The National Parks & Wildlife Service may declare a "park fire ban" or even close particular reserves where the potential risk to visitors from fire is high. This includes reserves with limited access (e.g. only one road in and out), with a high or very high overall fuel hazard or reserves where all visitor access sites are upslope from vegetated areas. All areas at Newnes can be regarded as subject to a "park fire ban".
    During park fire ban periods:
  • All campfire and solid fuel (wood, heat beads, charcoal, briquettes, hexamite) barbecues and stoves are prohibited.
  • Visitor-owned gas and electric barbecues and cookers are permitted as long as:
      • They are under direct control of an adult;
      • The ground within 3 metres of the barbecue is cleared of all flammable materials, and
      • There is an adequate supply of water (minimum of a bucket).
  • A park fire ban is overridden by a total fire ban.
LINKS TO ON-LINE BUSHFIRE INFORMATION SERVICES:
Other Sources of Information regarding bushfire danger and "Total Fire Ban" periods:
  • Weather report pages in newspapers (Sydney Morning Herald recommended).
    Newnes is in the "Central Tablelands" weather district and the "Central Ranges" bushfire district.
  • Weather reports on local radio (ABC=549AM, 2LT=900AM)
  • Beyond Lithgow, bushfire warning "clocks" are located:
    • on the Great Western Highway at Marangaroo,
    • at Newnes itself.
  • The "clock" at Newnes is an old-style sign, is usually accurate, but it is generally maintained on weekends only.
At all times, please be careful with fire. Watch what you do with that cigarette butt!
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Some things to do at Newnes:
Most walks in the Newnes area will be within Wollemi National Park. However, there is private land in the area so do not cross fences unless there are signs allowing this.
  • Explore the ruins of the oil-shale works.
  • Walk to the Glow-worm Tunnel.
  • Try one of the many other walks in the Newnes area.
  • On weekends, an information kiosk operates in what used to be the bar of the old Newnes Hotel.
  • Other activities, such as off-track bushwalking, rock climbing and canyoning are popular, but these are high-risk adventure activities that require adequate preparation and equipment, and competent leadership. It is strongly recommended that you contact your nearest bushwalking or rock-climbing group for further details and advice, as these activities are beyond the scope of this web-site.
  • And, of course, you can do nothing at all. Just sit back and enjoy the scenery (Grade = very easy!)
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Some bushwalking precautions:
  • Wild Dogs:
    There have been sightings of wild dogs in the Newnes area. These dogs are not Dingos as such, but cross-breeds with domestic dogs. They are often large animals, are not very friendly, and they hunt in packs. If walking alone and confronted by them, do not run, but stand your ground and they can be beaten off. Do not let small children in your party go wandering off alone in the bush.
  • Bushfire affected areas.
    Bushwalkers should take care when walking in areas that have been burnt by bushfires.
    Canyons:- Most canyons north of the Wolgan River, including Starlight Canyon, were severely affected by ash, debris and sediment during a bushfire in Jan/Feb 2003. Extra care is now needed and, if in doubt, make sure you can backtrack any descents.
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Some activities that you probably will NOT do at Newnes:
Some visitors have asked about the following, but they cannot be recommended them for the reasons stated:
  • Fishing - Sorry, the Wolgan River is not stocked with fish, but some other rivers in the Lithgow district are. For a brochure, see the Lithgow Visitor's Centre. You could also visit the Archvale Trout Farm at Marangaroo.
  • Canoeing - It can be done when conditions are right and you have the right equipment. However, you will normally find that the Wolgan River is too shallow and rocky at normal river levels. When in flood, the river below Newnes becomes over 100km of continuous grade 6 rapid with no side exit!
  • Swimming - There are no waterholes deep enough for "swimming". HOWEVER, in summer, younger chidren can have great water fun in some shallow sandy reaches near the camping area while you watch from a nice shady spot nearby (see "do nothing at all" above).
  • Gold Panning - Newnes is not in a gold-bearing area. (At Newnes they mined for oil-shale, not gold.)
  • Mobile phones - They don't work at Newnes (and we like it that way). If you must make that "urgent" call, do so before you enter the Wolgan Valley. There is no public phone at Newnes (the nearest is at Lidsdale), but we can contact local emergency services by land line, if required.
  • Extended 4WD and trail-bike riding - Once you are at Newnes, there are very few 4WD tracks available, although a 4WD vehicle is useful for crossing the river to get to the works if you don't want to get your feet wet. The main 4WD areas are not in the Wolgan Valley, but there are several tracks in the Newnes State Forest on the Newnes Plateau. This area is accessed from the south and is not directly accessible from the Wolgan Valley. Two suggested 4WD drives in this area are Blackfellows Hand fire trail from Wolgan Gap to Bungleboori (see Access to Newnes page for map) and another trail that runs from Wolgan Gap to Ben Bullen via Baal Bone Gap. See also Places near Newnes page for Lost City and Deep Pass.
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  Links to the information pages on this web site:
NEWNES BASICS GETTING TO NEWNES OIL-SHALE RUINS GLOW-WORM TUNNEL OTHER WALKS OTHER PLACES
NEWNES KIOSK CAMPING & ACCOM. TOURS TO NEWNES ABOUT US OTHER WEB-SITES CURRENT CONDITIONS
Return to HOME PAGE for links to other pages on this web-site.

This page last updated: 19Nov2013