Hartley Vale is a five-minute drive from Hartley and five-minute drive from Lithgow. Hartley Vale is home to historic dwellings and artefacts from the early British settlement. It’s an essential part of Hartley’s history, and many visitors are fascinated by the stories. Visiting Hartley Vale can help in putting the story into perspective.
However, Hartley Vale isn’t only about history, many people enjoy the activities available in the area. Paintballing is one of the most popular activities in Hartley Vale. The exhilarating Hartley Paintball, a great day out with family or friends. Hartley Paintball is located along Browns Gap Road and attracts many different age groups from all over. The staff are sure to make your experience as great as possible. You can have fun while playing paintball at Hartley Paintball, whether it’s for a birthday or wedding party. Businesses can even benefit from painting, by using it as a team building exercise.
The Lockyer’s Track is one of the locals’ favourites, convicts built this famous trail, which has now been listed as a heritage site. You can stop along the track to see some amazing views. The trail goes through Hartley Vale. It is a wonderful opportunity to walk while enjoying such a wonderful experience.
Hartley Vale has a long history of education, dating all the way back to the late 1870s. The Hartley Vale schoolhouse was constructed between 1878 and 1879 on land granted by the nearby oil works. Enrolments at the school began to rise rapidly, and by 1894, three extra classrooms had been added to the premises. A flowerbed for the girls and a vegetable garden for the boys, as well as a play space, were provided on the school premises. Enrolments gradually fell after the oil works closed in 1925, as many of the students were the children of the oil works employees. As a result of the downturn, the first two classrooms were demolished. The school was reduced to two classrooms, a veranda, and a new porch thereafter. The school’s Headmaster lived in an onsite residence just a few hundred metres from the school building. It is said that the house still holds the same historic appearance as it did in 1879.
The Collits Inn is one of Hartley Vale’s most well-known establishments. The Collits Inn was originally known as the Golden Fleece and was built by Pierce Collits in 1879. Since it was built, the Inn has seen several faces. The Inn is being used as a tourist destination for visitors from all over the country. The Collits Inn not only provides lodging but also hosts events such as weddings and has an onsite restaurant. The restaurant offers lunch and dinner, and their services are said to be exceptional.
The Collits Inn was originally built as a barracks for the Military Monitor assigned to guard the animals grazing beneath Mount York. Pierce gathered approximately 360 cattle and 300 sheep to labour on the farm, and the land was later developed into stockyards. Pierce lived on the property in a private residence until his death. The site was renovated and turned into a public guest home in the 1990s. Russell and Christine Stewart have been the proprietors of the Collits Inn since 1998.
Nulwarra housed a stone house with a small kitchen formerly known as Rosedale established in Hartley Vale by John Blackman after his marriage to Elizabeth Morris in 1824. In 1856, John Blackman built Fernhill as an inn on the Great Western Highway, but he didn’t reside there. Instead, he commuted to Rosedale and the Castlereagh River, where he owned a pastoral property named Nugal. In 1860, John passed away at Nugal, but his body was brought back to Rosedale where the Blackman Family cemetery was built. John and Elizabeth didn’t have children, and Rosedale was inherited by Richard Merrick, John’s nephew. Several of the Merrick descendants as well as Elizabeth Blackman’s unmarried sister, Mary Ann Morris, also lived on the property and were buried in the family Cemetery. The house was demolished in the 1920s and the cemetery was vandalised, the land is now used for cattle grazing.
The Hartley Vale Cemetery is a fantastic area to learn about Hartley Vale’s history. Many early settlers, prisoners, and convicts are buried in the cemetery. Because many of the graves are over 150 years old, several of the gravestones have been restored due to damage throughout the years. By wandering down Fields Road in Hartley Vale, you will get to the cemetery. Since then, the cemetery has been designated as a heritage site, and many visitors enjoy touring the graveyard and learning about its history. On a full moon at midnight, paranormal investigators like to explore the cemetery. Many individuals claim to have seen Thomas the coalminer, headless horse riders, screaming ghosts, and a priest who drowned in the 1850s near the graveyard. If you’re interested in the ghostly side of history, this graveyard is one of the best places to go.
Many privately held heritage sites can be found in Hartley Vale. The Glen, Homedale, The Mummuglun, and many others are among them. Many of the cottages were created to offer housing for nearby employees, but many have subsequently been sold and purchased as private properties.
The Homedale is another one of Hartley Vales long standing cottages, dating back to the 1870s. Originally, oil-processing plants and mines nearby used the structure for workers. During its lifespan, the cottage became too small for the workers, and they began looking for more permanent housing. The cottage is no longer open to the public and is only used for storage of earth moving equipment.
The Mummuglun, like many other cottages, was constructed in the 1870s. It is in Hartley Vale and has had numerous modifications since its beginning. The cottage was used as the home of the assistant mine manager; however a house fire significantly damaged the structure. Today the cottage remains as a private residence of Hartley Vale.
The Glen is another cottage that was built for workers. It is a brick cottage on Hartley Vale Road, formerly JR street, built for or by workers who were employed in the local coal and shale mines and oil-processing plant. The Glen is most likely from the period of rapid development of the oil industry here in the late 1870s, when permanent housing for employees became more available, it is now owned as a private residence.
Vellacott Park, built in 1909, this stone house is owned by the Booker Family, built by the grandfather of the current Mr Booker. The original Mr Booker ran the property of 200 acres as a grazing run, his son planted a thriving apple orchard before his death in 1997. Still in the hands of the Booker family as a private residence there seems to be no physical remnants of of the nineteenth century building, other than a brick chimney in the paddock to the west of the house.
For all you historians out there, a trip to Hartley Vale would be a fascinating day trip. The area is full of tales and historical stories involving the land and the town’s historical residents. Make a detour off the Great Western Highway as you pass; we guarantee it’s not something you’ll want to miss. Perhaps you might surprise the children by dropping in for a quick game of paintball. Who doesn’t appreciate a good game of paintball?