I'm back to finish off our day out on Australia Day. The first part is here.
After lunch we headed off to the Blast Furnace Park. I visited here a few years ago when I had a bit of time to kill between meetings, but Mick has never been. This was to be my "look how great this place is, you can explore all these interesting old ruins and take great photos" moment......It wasn't quite to be......
I didn't blog about the Blast Furnace last time, I just never got around to it, so here are a couple of pics I took back then. It is a popular background for photo shoots, there even being one wedding party photo taking place while I was there.
It really was rustic.
When we arrived this time it was a little different.
Yep, a high fence all around the site.
There were a few gaps in the fence, so we may have just snuck in to take some better photos, but we were good and didn't go near the buildings.
Notice how the tops of the buildings have been repaired.
These walls were covered in Virginian Creeper and very crumbly in my last visit.
This was the original site for steel making in Australia, so we understand that it is important to conserve what is here rather than to let it just crumble away, but it doesn't have quite the rustic feel that it used to. Having said that, I'm sure it will only take a few years for the conservation work to blend in with the old.
I was amazed at the photo on this sign. The remaining brick buildings are on the left of the photo and they are big. Look at how the furnaces tower over them. It must have been quite a sight, as well as being hot, dirty and noisy, being located in a valley. The technology was 20 years behind best practice when built. Over time there were industrial issues, a fire and eventually it was all destroyed by the owner. Quite an interesting story.
Apparently, eventually there will be walk ways and viewing points established. I hope they do a good job of it so the fence can be removed.
Next to the ruins there is an attractive wet land. It would be a lovely spot for a picnic.
It will be good to return when the upgrades have all been completed, whenever that may be. It should be a really nice place to visit.
As a kid, we used to go to the shops in Lithgow, but never really ventured much across the railway line, as there was no need. This time Mick and I decided to have one of our "Wobble Tours", which are when we visit a town, we just wobble up and down the streets at random.
Lithgow has always been an industrial town, with coal mining, the blast furnace, the railway, a pottery and a small arms factory. Therefore there are lots of workers' cottages.
It is also a rather drab town. The local bricks are a drab colour, I presume as a result of the amount of coal that runs through the soil. Traditionally, heating and cooking was fueled by coal as well, which made the place dirty, and being in a valley, the smoke was trapped. Fortunately, such fuel has been banned for some time.
Once again, when we were kids, we drove along one street on the way to Grandma's and the houses were painted in bright, if not garish, colours. To an outsider it just looked a bit tacky, but looking back, I reckon the residents were just trying to inject some colour into their environment.
We noticed a couple of houses on our tour that had some bright features.
What we also noticed, was the number of old houses that were looking neat as a pin and beautifully restored and cared for.
How cute is this tiny cottage that had just been sold.
There are also lots of lovely new homes in the area.
We noticed a sign on our travels to the "State Mine Heritage Park". I'd heard of the State Mine, but knew nothing of it, so, as we still had time up our sleeve, we went to have a bo peep.
The road looked interesting, winding up into a long gully, so we kept going past the mine, eventually coming across this sign. I think there may be another day of exploring at some stage.
Back to the mine, there is the old offices, which house a museum.
The friendly guide gave us a quick overview and then left us to explore. The sealed mine entrance is under the adit. The white cabin used to carry up to 60 men one kilometre down the main shaft.
We firstly entered what had been the Bath House. The skillion add on to the left of the building was the actual showers. This area now houses a small theatrette. The soap holders are still on the wall.
The little information video gave a great overview of the mine. It was started just after the First World War and came on to full production in the late 20s. As its name suggests, it was owned by the government. It was closed in 1964.
The Bath House houses some old mining vehicles, but the building is also rented out for weddings and other events. It would look stunning all decorated with lights through the exposes trusses. I wish they had a photo of how it looks.
They also had a lump of shale from Hartley Vale. This was mined to produce petrol and kerosene and the mine supplied all of Sydney's requirements until 1915. This one and a half ton piece would produce 546 litres of crude oil. Hard to believe.
Back outside it was time to explore.
Mick was having fun with black and white photos.
The old workshop was interesting, even though you couldn't go inside.
This was no pristine, hands off, type of museum. There was interesting stuff everywhere.
There was a family visiting with little kids. Their hands were black from picking up greasy metal bits. They were having a ball. (Their parents were supervising them.)
I couldn't believe how close the buildings were to the bush. That is another sealed entrance to the mine in the background.
Right next door was a railway yard with interesting trains.
We both loved the patterns of the train tracks going into the old workshop.
The facility is obviously used by creative metal workers, as there were a few bits and bobs around the place. You can't see it clearly, but this one must have been inspired by David Bowie. Down the bottom it is titled "Let's Dance". Notice the red shoes. So simple. Here's a link to the film clip if you aren't familiar with the song.
I was a little worried while wandering around. Was that an old boiler sitting over near the back fence or an alien?
Finally, we went into the museum proper. It was really interesting, although not all that photogenic. How hard hats have changed over time.
There was a pay slip from 1927. They certainly worked hard, but it looks like they earned not a bad wage at the end of the week.
Anyway, by now the day was marching on, so it was time to head back home. We were amazed at how easily we had filled in the entire day. There is still more to Lithgow that we haven't seen, so we may just have to have another day exploring. Oh, and we still have to have lunch at the cafe that was closed.