Hartley Historic Village

One of the first things to know about the Hartley area is that there is a lot of it. From the Blue Mountains heading towards Lithgow you first pass through Little Hartley (with the old Harp of Erin on the left hand side, past the lolly shop) then the roadhouse cafe and farming produce store at Mid Hartley. A detour along Browns Gap Road will take you through Hartley Vale, providing an opportunity to enjoy a lovely drive through the valley.

The historic village of Hartley is under the care of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). The NPWS took over the upkeep of the village in 1972, and there are various tours and accommodation options available. On the day I went for a wander there was a bus load of school kids visiting from the south coast, and they were split into groups to explore the historic courthouse and the Catholic Church.

The village of Hartley began to take shape in the mid 1830s with travel along the Great Western Road passing nearby following the opening of Victoria Pass. By 1837 the Hartley Courthouse was in operation, administering local justice until 1887 when court business was transferred to Lithgow. The building became a popular backdrop for tourists taking group photos on tours to the Jenolan Caves and was set up as a museum from the period after World War II until it came under the control of NPWS.

Hartley is one of the towns that came into existence due to the needs of travellers heading to the western districts, but then declined in significance when bypassed by the railway in the 1870s. The remaining buildings include old pubs and places of worship.

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Old Post Office, Hartley

The old post office is now a family-owned and operated cafe. The pressed tin ceiling, painted white, has a lovely rose design and there is local artwork on display and for sale inside the cafe. The granite tor, which I’ve written about previously, is located behind the old post office. There is an energy about it, and it is worth the walk up the slope in order to see the vistas stretching out towards Oberon and Lithgow, with the Great Western Highway snaking its way up the incline to Lithgow, Bathurst and beyond.

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The Farmer’s Inn, which now includes the Kew-Y-Ahn Aboriginal Gallery. St Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church in the background.

The Farmers Inn, which has served various purposes including time as a pub during the gold rush, is now a tourist centre and a gallery for indigenous artists from the central west of NSW.

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St Bernard’s Presbytery (right) and St Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church

Evidence of the strong Irish Catholic community is evident in St Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church and Presbytery, built in the 1830s and 1840s. The Anglican church, St John the Evangelist, is located closer to the highway and was built in the 1850s.

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The Shamrock Inn, Hartley

During my occasional visits to Hartley I’ve been drawn to the Shamrock Inn, one of the last buildings along the road. It seems to be settling down into its foundations with each passing year, the stones at the front of the building a little more uneven and the doorways slightly shorter than my height.

Pride and preservation combined with an interesting heritage make Hartley Historic Village a place well worth the trip. 

[Photo: Hartley Courthouse]

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Kew-Y-Ahn, Hartley

Kew-Y-Ahn, also known as Bells Rock, is a cluster of granite rocks located in the hills surrounding the historic township of Hartley, between Mount Victoria and Lithgow. This granite tor – rocky eminence or hill – has kept watch over the area for centuries.

There is a walking path which winds its way up the slope, the steep climb rewarding walkers with a close-up view of the rock outcrop as well as views of historic Hartley. In the distance lie Oberon and Lithgow, the Great Western Highway snaking its way up in the distance.

Kew-Y-Ahn, Hartley

Kew-Y-Ahn, Hartley

On the day I had a wander, it was cloudy with startling bursts of sunlight. From some angles the tor looked dark and brooding, a weighty and silent sentinel. Then the sun would appear and the colours in the stones would brighten. There were granite outcrops along the track, along with a number of plaques providing some historic insight into the town and the importance of Cox’s Road and the Great Western Road.

The Talisman Gallery and workshop is located in an old woolshed and there are a number of sculptures dotted around the area which provide points of interest along the way. One of the historic buildings in the town, the Farmers Inn, is now home to the Kew-Y-Ahn Aboriginal Art Gallery, providing an exhibition space for artists from the Central West.

There is a short video of the walk by John Paix here.

Have you come across any tors in your travels?

[Photo of Kew-Y-Ahn, framed by one of the sculptures from the Talisman Gallery]

My I Spy: something beginning with ‘M’

Many things come to mind around the letter M. Mountains, museums, music, manuscripts – such a multitude of things to muse upon. Here are some things that I’ve spotted beginning with the letter M.

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Magpie on the fence

Magpie

True, this magpie is largely obscured by abundant cherry blossoms, and the photo was taken whilst the magpie was sharpening or cleaning his beak on the fence, but I still like it. There are lots of magpies in my area, and one of my enduring joys is to wake up to their morning chorus. I also came across this poem called Magpie by James McAuley. It captures the essence of what I admire about magpies, including ‘the liquid squabble of his note’, the confidence and swagger of the bird.

Martians and Miners

An unusual combination, granted. These locally crafted figures are situated on a bend of the back road from Hartley to Lithgow, and provide a ready reminder to take care on the winding roads.

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Albert, the Magic Pudding, Norman Lindsay Gallery, Faulconbridge

Magic Pudding

Albert, the grumpy pudding, is one of the enduring characters of my childhood reading. He was indeed, magic, providing a wide selection of endless treats with ready ill-humour. His grumpiness is evident on his countenance. The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay remains vivid many years after reading. Lindsay’s property at Faulconbridge is a popular stop in the mountains.

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Big Merino, Goulburn

Merinos

The Big Merino at Goulburn is a well-known feature on the list of big attractions scattered around the Australian countryside. As a child it seemed enormous. This photo, taken across a four-lane road, doesn’t quite do it justice, but it is still an impressive sight.

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Merino in Leichhardt

This rather fancy merino was spotted in a gallery window at Leichhardt over the weekend. It is rare to see sheep in the inner city.

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Masks in The Merchant of Venice, Leichhardt

Masks

I spotted a window full of beautifully crafted masks whilst walking through the Italian Forum in Leichhardt. The shop was called The Merchant of Venice.

Have you spotted anything magnificent beginning with M this week? Keep an eye on what fellow spotter Autumn spies here, as well as atman.art.studio on Instagram.