Hugging the north-western slopes of the Blue Mountains
, Lithgow was first settled in 1824, eleven years after explorers flagged a trail across the Great Dividing Range.
Forty-five years on, Lithgow’s destiny was forged with the commissioning of the famous zigzag railway, opening up the area’s rich coal fields to Sydney. The first steel made in Australia came from a Lithgow furnace.
Old steam locomotives still haul passengers on a restored section of the zigzag and Eskbank House, home of coal discoverer Thomas Brown, has been converted into a fascinating museum.
The ruins of the nation’s first blast furnace remain as another link to a colourful past in the aptly named Blast Furnace Park.
Befitting its industrial importance, Lithgow is graced by some sturdy old bank buildings dating back to the 1880s, a graceful federation court house and a Gothic Uniting Church built by steel baron Charles Hoskin at the end of World War I in memory of his son, Guildford, who was killed in an accident in 1916.
Another building with religious connections is De La Salle College. The two-storey, Victorian Gothic, stone building with its distinctive parapet was commissioned in the early 1880s by pioneer settler Andrew Brown as a training establishment for Presbyterian parsons. The Cooerwull Academy closed when most of its staff and some students enlisted for service in World War I. It then served as a private home until the Catholic Church reconverted it into a high school in 1953.
Find out more about the Blue Mountains