recent happenings

This page will report recent happenings at State Mine. Visit this page for the latest news of events around the Park.

For past events visit the Recent Happenings Archive.

Heritage setting for Tidy Town farewell
Courtesy Lithgow Mercury
Len Ashworth 10 November 2011

Tidy Town FarewellTHE suitably heritage listed surroundings of the State Mine Heritage Park provided the fitting setting for the farewell breakfast which concluded a full weekend of activities hosted by Lithgow for the 2011 Keep Australia Beautiful awards.

The hugely successful weekend began with a welcome buffet in the Civic Ballroom on Friday evening and concluded with the Sunday breakfast within the confines of the time capsule of Lithgow’s mining history.

For most of the 350 or so delegates from the far corners of regional NSW it was their first visit to the mine museum and cameras were constantly flashing to record the unfamiliar spectacle.

Lithgow council had assisted in setting up tables and chairs in what was the old bathhouse then the Lions Club members once again took on the massive challenge of feeding the hungry hordes.

All went like clockwork, as had most of the weekend’s arrangements and compliments were coming thick and fast for Lithgow’s organisational abilities — all against the backdrop of the smell of bacon and eggs wafting over State Mine Gully.

Adding to the occasion was the return of the historic union movement banners, some dating back to the 19th century, again hung on public display on loan from the usual museum custodians.

The banners were once carried proudly in union demonstrations and various parades dating back to the 19th century.

They are rarely out of the possession of the Sydney Trades Hall but the State Mine Museum has been privileged to have them on loan twice.

Consequently it is indeed a unique attraction for Lithgow and received plenty of comment during the Tidy Towns function at the museum at the weekend.

The union banner exhibition is expected to remain in place until the new year and is well worth an inspection.

Launch of A Light in the Vale
Recently the launch of a new book by Ray Christison, A LIght in the Vale, was held at Lithgow State Mine.The book was launched by Wayne McAndrew, General Vice-President, CFMEU Mining & Energy Division. Music was provided by local folk singers Martin Doherty and Leigh Birkett. The launch was attended by forty people.
Martin and Leigh
Ray Christison
Wayne McAndrew
Music was provided by local folk singers Martin Doherty and Leigh Birkett.
Ray Christison at the launch.
Wayne McAndrew, General Vice-President, CFMEU Mining & Energy Division.
Photos by Kay Shirt
Click on imges for a larger version
Recent Photoshoot at State Mine
A recent steampunk photography shoot titled: “I was late for the wedding because my compass broke” undertaken by Angela Peady Photography

Lithgow museum could be best in the world
Lithgow Mercury 3 May, 2011
It is now well documented that Lithgow was recently named Australia's Tidiest Town for 2011. But according to the chairman of Lithgow Tidy Towns, Sue Graves, this prestigious award would not have been possible without the involvement of Lithgow Council and the Lithgow community generally.

“It was a community team effort,” she said.

Mrs Graves was speaking at the latest meeting of Council after civic congratulations had been extended by Mayor Neville Castle.

“People who just pick up litter as they walk around town were all part of this”, she said.

But much more was taken into consideration in the assessment.

“Graffiti is part of it. The way we maintain our homes and gardens. It is about our environment and our cultural heritage. Places like our Small Arms Museum which assessor Dick Olesinski said could be the best in the world, and the State Mine Museum and Zig Zag Railway.”

“Lithgow has lot of things happening for it and we are proud to have come home with this award.”

Mrs Graves said her committee hoped that that the status that comes with the title of Australia's Tidiest Town would help influence new business to invest in the local area.

Tidy Towns

Image courtesy Lithgow Mercury (Click to enlarge)

A season of goodwill on two wheels
SANTA arrived on two wheels at the weekend when Lithgow district motorcyclists got together for their annual Christmas Toy Run organised by the Ulysses Club.

For 15 years without fail the cavalcade from the motorcycling fraternity has made the run from Portland to Lithgow, picking up gifts from collection points along the way for distribution during Christmas week by the Lithgow Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul volunteers.

More than 40 riders took part this year, led as always by Santa himself on Peter Spillett's Honda Goldwing.

Also riding pillion behind Ulysses member Barry Missingham was Salvation Army Captain Sandra Edge.

“That was something I've wanted to do for a long time,” she confessed later.

After a stop at Wallerawang the riders continued into Lithgow and along Main Street before heading off to an assembly at the State Mine Museum.

There the gifts were handed over to representatives of the two support organisations who will be making up the Christmas hampers.

Cash donations from the Ulysses Club were also presented.

The Ulysses collection was in addition to a recent toy run by the local street machine club and appeals by Westfund and Target.

Any late donations should be made by tomorrow if possible to allow time for volunteers to wrap the gifts and organise the distribution.

Santa Claus
Image courtesy Lithgow Mercury (Click to enlarge)

Lithgow Mercury - 16 December 2010

Glen Davis Book Launch
A crowd of 84 people gathered in the Bath House at the Lithgow State Coal Mine on Saturday 25 September 2010 for the launch of historian Leonie Knapman’s history of Glen Davis. The book is the culmination of almost 30 years of research into the history of Australia’s largest oil shale mining and processing centre. Leonie lived most of the first 14 years of her life at Glen Davis and has a particular affection for the place and its people. The book was launched by Andrew Davis, grandson of the founders of the Glen Davis oil shale works. Morning tea was served by museum volunteers. Copies of the book will be available at the museum for $60.00 per copy.

Article New book tells of Glen Davis history

Lithgow Mercury - 28 September 2010

Glen Davis Book Launch
Glen Davis Book Launch
Photographs above show Leonie addressing the gathering and the crowd enjoying morning tea
in the industrial atmosphere of the Bath House.
Click on images for a larger version
Glen Davis Book Launch
Historian and author Leonie Knapman with Andrew and Robert Davis
whose family name led to the naming of Glen Davis. Courtesy Lithgow Mercury

State Mine hosts 2009 Australian Mining History Association Conference
2009 Australian Mining History Association Annual ConferenceOn 29 October 2009 the State Mine hosted the final sessions of the 2009 Australian Mining History Association Annual Conference. The 2009 conference, held in Lithgow from 26 October to 29 October, included presentations on the mining history of the region and tours of important mining sites. A pre-conference tour explored the gold mining heritage of Hill End and a post-conference tour experienced the abandoned oil shale town of Glen Davis. Conference participants were also given the opportunity to visit Scenic World Katoomba, Lithgow Zig Zag Railway and the Western Mines Rescue Station with its world-leading virtual underground coal mine. The morning spent at the State Mine was considered by many to be a highlight of the conference. Participants were amazed at the Unions NSW display of historic trade union banners and entertainment provided by local folk singers Martin Doherty and Leigh Birkett.

Image courtesy Lithgow Mercury (Click to enlarge)

Turntable for Eskbank Railway Heritage Centre
Back to the past to go to the future
Lithgow Mercury - 22 October 2009
As part of an ongoing initiative to develop the now disused Eskbank goods yard for the terminus for the State Mine Railway and to preserve Lithgow's early railway heritage, the Eskbank Railway Heritage Centre received a large boost recently with the arrival of a 19th century vintage cast iron turntable.

The Eskbank locomotive depot was established in 1882 with the installation of a 60 foot Sellers Cast Iron turntable.

The three road engine shed was completed in 1886.

The depot operated up until the early 1920s when the facility became too small to accommodate the locomotives it was required to service.

By 1924 a new depot was established at its present location which was then known as Corney Town at the base of the Scenic Hill.

By 1930 the engine shed at the Eskbank depot was demolished and the turntable relocated to Coolah.

The servicing and turntable pits were covered with fill, ash and spent ballast and tracks laid on top to create a storage and shunting yard which remained in operation up until the early 1990s.

In 2000 the historic site revealed its secrets again when work begun to excavate the area to re-establish Eskbank as a working depot as part of the tourist railway to connect the town with Blast Furnace Park and the State Mine Museum.

After five years in the planning and many meetings with Railcorp the Eskbank development finally took delivery of a Sellers Cast Iron turntable which was identical to the type originally installed at Eskbank, which was relocated from long disused Wollongong yard.

The relocation was made possible as the area in Wollongong is being redeveloped to enable the establishment of a state of the art stabling facilities for the new electric trains.

As a consequence a home had to be found for the displaced heritage item.

The turntable was donated to the Eskbank development by Railcorp, disassembled and prepared for transport by Taylor Rail with the whole project managed and over seen by Novo Rail.

The exercise was carefully planned and executed and went with out a hitch with the table and all of its components arriving via four semi trailers into the Eskbank yard.

The success of the transfer was due in part to the expertise Novorail brought to the fore to ensure that this historic item arrived without incident.

Work will now begin on cleaning up the cast iron frame and pivot and preparing the pit to enable the table lowered into it.

Eskbank Turntable

State Mine Book Launch
A book launch was held on Wednesday 6 May 2009 in the Bath House at the State Mine. The launch was attended by approximately 50 people. Lithgow State Mine – A pictorial history was formally introduced to the public by Lithgow Mayor Neville Castle and by former Austen and Butta Director Dick Austen. Dick related some of his memories of the State Mine in a speech that was quite amusing.

Photos by Jennifer Christison

Book launch
Ray Christison
Attendees enjoying the current display of Trade Union
banners in the Bath House.
Book author Ray Christison thanking the
many people who contributed to the book.

Dick Austen
Dick Austen
Dick Austen entertains the audience with stories of the mine.

The Artistic Side of Unionism
Story by Len Ashworth
Lithgow Mercury - Tuesday 7 April 2009
Beneath the Southern CrossA throwback to the days when unions took to the streets with spectacular works of art in their never ending quest for better conditions is the subject of a fascinating display just opened at the Lithgow State Mine Museum.

The exhibition, arranged through Unions NSW, features banners from the Sydney Trades Hall collection that were carried during the Eight Hour Day and Six Hour Day marches of a past era.

The banners date as far back as 1895 and cover a wide range of union interest.

The exhibition runs until October and can be viewed between 10:00am to 4:00pm at weekends or by arrangement for group bookings.

More images from the Exhibition

Photo by John Oates

Plans to address Eskbank neglect
Story by Don Kipp
Lithgow Mercury - Tuesday 24 February 2009
Eskbank StationLithgow could become the hub of heritage rail operations in NSW - with the main area centred on the old Eskbank railway station.

A group who interested in establishing a rail heritage centre has met with the State Member, Gerard Martin, Department of State Regional Development, Council officers, the General Manager and Mayor Neville Castle.

In a Mayoral Minute presented to the latest meeting of Lithgow Council, Cr Castle said the proposal is to have the Eskbank Rail Heritage Centre established in the Eskbank area of Lithgow.

The proposal is to include employment, training and tourism, as well as establishing a rail maintenance workshop which would undertake heritage rail restorations, as well as commercial rail work including locomotive and wagon repairs.

There would also be an establishment of a rail specific training facility which would include the training of apprentices in traditional and lost trades, as well as rail safety and qualifications.

There is also the possibility of using the State Mine Branch Mine as a practical training ground.

“There would also be an establishment of Lithgow as a base for a luxury day trains, including a 180 luxury seat train based at Eskbank where journeys would depart and terminate in Lithgow,” Cr Castle said.

“The members of the Eskbank Rail Heritage Centre have also been in communication with a Hunter heritage rail group that has had difficulty in finding time placements on the very cluttered Hunter rail network, who may be looking to relocate to Lithgow.

“This particular project is expected to bring eight to 10 permanent jobs to Lithgow, as well as increased training in the TAFE who the group have already been in contact with.

“The Department of State and Regional Development has been given a document as an expression of interest created by one of their officers that has met with this rail heritage group.

“This expression of interest will be the first step in the attempt to get government funding for their project,” the Minute said.

In supporting the Minute, Cr Howie Fisher said the proposal is an exciting one, 'one that Council is obligated to get behind'.
“This will put Lithgow on the map as the steam heritage centre of NSW,” he said.
Councillors adopted Cr Castle's recommendation that Lithgow support in principle the concept of the Eskbank Rail Heritage Centre.

It was also adopted that Council assist this organisation in preparing for any possible grant applications while Council's Economic Development Officer is to work with the Eskbank Rail Heritage Centre to help further their proposal.

Photo by John Oates