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Introduction to these Railway Pages:
Train leaving Newnes, pre
     1913 As mentioned elsewhere on this web site, I was involved in the original production of the book "Shale Railways of New South Wales", published by the Australian Railway Historical Society in 1974. This book was reprinted in 2000 with an addendum to update and correct some of the material in the original book. A further edition is currently in preparation.
These web pages have mainly been written to present some of the updated information in a directly accessible form. When complete, they will give an overview of the Wolgan Valley Railway, as far as is currently known, with particular attention to the locomotives and rolling-stock used.
<--- (left) A rare shot from the early days of Newnes.
      A train with a heavy load of shale departs from Newnes station.

Visitor Information:
Access to the site of the Wolgan Railway is today divided into two sections that are generally accessible by car:
  • The southern, or Newnes Plateau, end (access from Clarence, near the Zig Zag Railway);
  • The northern, or Wolgan Valley, end (access from Wolgan Road into Newnes).
The two sections are divided by those parts of the line near the Glow-worm tunnel. The tunnel itself and the cliff section north of it are only accessible by foot. This Glow-worm tunnel area is the most scenic section of the railway. Visitors please note that the northern section of the road to the Glow-worm tunnel from the southern end follows the railway formation and passes through the first tunnel.

Warning - Do not trespass on private property:
Present-day visitors to the Wolgan Valley Railway should be aware that parts of the line go through what are now private property, both freehold and leases. Known private areas (with description of locations in italics) include:
    Southern (Newnes Plateau) end:
  • Clarence Colliery
    The rail balloon loop and loading facilities between present-day Newnes Junction and exchange sidings.
  • Hanson's (Kable's Transport) Sand Quarry
    Includes exchange sidings, Newnes Junction loco depot and triangle, and about 1km of Wolgan line beyond this.
  • Boral Quarry
    About 1km of line and adjacent land between 3-mile siding and Summit loop.
    Northern (Wolgan Valley) end:
  • Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa (includes open land below the Glow-worm tunnel)
    Do not cut across any fenced areas. The main NPWS access to the Glow-worm tunnel is at a weir 1.5km north of the entrance to the Emirates Resort.
  • Koopartoo
    A farm north of the NPWS access to Glow-worm tunnel. Keep to the Wolgan Road, or the railway formation which goes around the back of this property.
  • Private property in and around Newnes
    There are several privately owned properties in and near Newnes. Do not cross fences.
  • National Park areas
    Do not take vehicles past gates, fences and barriers that have been erected at various places.
Visitors should avoid private areas and not enter them without prior permission. Access to the Glow-worm Tunnel should not be a problem for visitors, provided that you keep to designated public roads in the area.
  • Pine plantations and areas about Bungleboori are under the control of State Forests.
  • Areas north of the pine plantations are within Wollemi National Park, with Gardens of Stone National Park adjacent for part of the way.
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Publications dealing with the Wolgan Valley Railway:
  • Deane, Henry; 1979. "The Wolgan Valley Railway - Its Construction".
    This was originally a 1910 article, by the man who built the line, concerning the construction of the railway. It was reproduced as a small book in 1979 (reprinted 2004) by the Australian Railway Historical Society. Maps are based on 1930s information and do not show all present-day roads. Much of the text has also been incorporated into "Shays in the Valley" (see below). Deane's article is the only major contempory article that dealt solely with the railway.
  • Eardley, G. and Stephens, E. 1974 (Updated 2000). "The Shale Railways of New South Wales".
    A wordy (and somewhat opinionated) description from the early 1970s. Based on Deane's description (see above) as well as what was seen in the 1930s. This reprint has an addendum to correct and update parts of the main text.
    A further edition with corrections and update is in preparation.
  • Hicks, G. and O'Brien, D. 1999. "Shays in the Valley."
    This has a very good collection of photographs of both the railway and Newnes in general. However, the information concerning the railway has mainly been taken from the previous two sources and, unfortunately, there are a number of errors in both text and captions.
  • Author & Title to be advised
    We understand that a new book dealing with the railway is in preparation. The author is known to us and, while we have no further information, it should be a worthwhile contribution to recording the history of this railway.
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Some other items of possible interest:
Wolgan Valley Railway Models:
There have been several manufacturers of modles relating to Newnes and the Wolgan Valley Railway. Here are some that we know about:
  • "Balmain Drawingboard" ( at one stage was producing several HO scale model kits of Wolgan Valley Railway rolling stock. We are not sure of current situation.
  • "Models 'N More" ( have a range of building kits, including the Newnes Hotel and several items from within the works area.
Bell from Shay #4 Shay Bell:
The Shay locomotives used on the railway to Newnes each carried a bell (typical American practice). The bell from Locomotive #4 was later used at a church in Wallerawang and is now on display at the State Mine Museum in Lithgow. It can be seen there on weekends from about 10am to 4.30pm.

The bell from Locomotive #1 also survives. This was taken to Clyde Refinery during the Fell period and used as a fire warning bell. It was later recovered and subsequently donated to the Anglican Church at Ainsley in Canberra which is a relocated version of the old mortiary receiving house from Rookwood Necropolis in Sydney.
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This page last updated: 18Apr2013