Wallerawang

Wallerawang is a small country town located in New South Wales, Central West. On the edge of the blue mountains, the town is situated 156 km north of Sydney. Wallerawang’s first owners were those of the Wiradjuri Tribe, the indigenous people referred to the area as ‘Waller-owang’, the name translated to ‘place near wood or water’ or ‘plenty of water’.

Wallerawang has many attractions around town, you can drive up to the Wang Lookout, which overlooks the town of Wallerawang. Although the lookout isn’t listed online, you can find out about it from locals. From Brays Lane, you turn off onto a dirt road and eventually reach a mountain. There are many ways to ascend the mountain, so be sure you know which one you are taking. There are some who like to walk up the mountain early in the morning to experience the wildlife and the beautiful view of Wallerawang as it wakes up or others who prefer to drive up before sunset so they can watch as the sun goes down over the countryside.

The town is full of historical significance. The first European to have explored the area was James Blackman. James stumbled upon the land in 1820 while he marked out a new road that led from Bathurst to the area we all know and love, Wallerawang. James Blackman was a farmer, explorer, and husband to Elizebeth Nee’ Harley. Wallerawang and nearby towns still bear the Blackman family name. From there on, the first colonial settler to colonize Wallerawang, James Walker, took over the station at Wallerawang.

One of the most well-known tourist destinations, Lake Wallace, is located in the town of Wallerawang. The Lake offers Camping, park, and recreational facilities. The lake is referred to as the ‘Wang Dam’ by locals and was man-made in the year 1978. It was on this land that Barton Park was located before the Lake was built.

Previously known as ‘Wallerowang House’ the Barton Park was a grand home that belonged to James Lyon Walker Barton and his sister Lue Loveday Walker Barton, as well as a barn. In the year 1948, both James and his sister Lue were shot to death via a rifle in the privacy of their own home. It was discovered shortly after that their killer was a 17-year-old farmworker from Sydney, the killer had previously known the Barton’s and had said, quote “I don’t know why I did it, but something came over me all of a sudden”. He also added “I don’t know why I did it. They treated me really well” and he claims that he all of a sudden felt fed up against the Barton’s. The bodies were found by Lue’s friend, Kathleen Hope Moon. Reports say that both James and Lue were shot twice and that one of James’ bullet wounds was point-blank.

The Barton’s were buried in the Barton Park Private Cemetry, which is still standing to this day. An auction was held to sell the remains of the residents’ furniture and belongings, although it has been made apparent that some books and various items were stolen during the auction. The house was later demolished and no pieces were left behind; the construction of Lake Wallace was then commenced. The Lake was built to provide cooling water for coal, for the Wallerawang PowerStation that was built nearby. The Wallerawang Powerstation shut down in 2014 and no longer relies on the freshwater from Lake Wallace. Today the Lake is used simply for recreational use only.

 

First opening in 1957, the Wallerawang Powerstation took over from the Lithgow PowerStation, which subsequently closed down. Power was generated at the power station for the surrounding areas and regions. In total 220 employees lost their jobs when the Station closed, but some found employment at the Mount Piper Power Station located just 10 minutes away from Wallerawang. Since then, the Power Station has been dormant and the 175-meter-tall stacks are set to be demolished. Green spot is currently discussing plans for the remains of the PowerStation; however, they are still unsure of what they will do. As for now, it will remain a local attraction.

 

The town of Wallerawang is full of rich and meaningful history, the local primary school, Wallerawang Public, has operated at three different sites since its opening. The first school opened in the year 1860, along the Main Street of Wallerawang. The building was a large sandstone room, the room had an upstairs where the teacher, Mrs. Walker (James Walker’s daughter), resided. The school was quite small during its first initial year of opening and only taught 19 boys and 20 girls.

 

In 1881, the school began to grow and a new building was constructed. The site, only a couple hundred meters up the road, and is known today as the ‘Black Gold Motel’. The new school consisted of two large classrooms and housed an onsite residency for Mrs Walker. During these years the enrolments significantly grew, around 400 students began learning at Wallerawang Public School. To accommodate the students, classrooms from surrounding schools were brought in. The school stopped operating at this location when the current school was built. While it wasn’t the end of an era for the property, Linda and Rob Cluff went on to buy it and have turned it into one of the area’s most affordable and comfortable motels. The Motel has undergone many renovations over the years, including turning the once kindergarten room into a successful onsite restaurant.

 

The third Wallerawang Public School was built in 1995, and is located adjacent to Lake Wallace. Several teachers of the school helped build the new blocks, and it has continued to operate on the site ever since. This was a very different school from the ones that had existed in the past. The school was built with two-story blocks, a canteen area, library, and toilet block. In the centre of the courtyard, stands the original Wallerawang Public, school bell. The bell has been used throughout all three sites, the bell was used to represent the start and end of a school day. The bell is no longer used for this purpose and is only used for special occasions.

 

Wallerawang supplied fuel to RAAF and US Army Air Forces during World War II. It was home to RAAF No.4, a depot for inland aircraft that ceased operations in 1944. In Wallerawang today, we are honoured with a war memorial commemorating those who served in World War II. It is located in the main street next the Old Wallerawang Train Station.

 

Wallerawang train station was once part of a very successful rail line that connected to Bowenfels. The rail line started operations on March 1st, 1870, and was extended to Rydal in early July 1870. By 1882, the Wallerawang Train Station was a junction station, and by 1889, the authorities replaced the trains with road coaches, and as a result, it was closed. Today the Train Station has been listed as a heritage site and since 2017 the Station has been converted into a café, the Station Expresso. The café sells a variety of food, ranging from sweets to savory. They also bake gluten-free goods, their gluten-free lava cake has been a hit over the years, a delicious chocolate indulgence topped with whipped cream.  The platform is the perfect place for an afternoon coffee and cake. Occasionally you may see a train or two passes through the station.

 

A day trip to Wallerawang is a great way to learn about the small historical town and its fascinating history. Consider packing a picnic blanket and having a family picnic along the water banks of Lake Wallace or stopping for a drink and snack at one of the local small businesses while you explore the area. Walk down to the Wallerawang Bakery or indulge in delectable Chinese cuisine, both located on Main Street.