|Lake Lyell built by the
Small village townships on the outskirts of Lithgow
Today there are effectively two Bowenfels. Directly opposite
Lithgow, on the western side of the Great Western Highway,
is Bowenfels (with the homestead of the valley's first
settler, Andrew Brown). A little over a kilometre south
along the highway towards Katoomba, is South Bowenfels.
Although both are now essentially suburbs of Lithgow,
Bowenfels was, in fact, the first settlement in the valley,
predating the existence of the larger city by nearly 40
The valley was occupied by the Wiradjuri Aborigines prior
to European settlement. The first Europeans in the vicinity
were Wentworth, Lawson and Blaxland who became the first
whites to find a route through the Blue Mountains in 1813.
The first European settler on this land was Scotsman Andrew
Brown who later founded St Andrew's College at the
University of Sydney. He established 'Cooerwull' station at
what is now northern Bowenfels in 1824 and built a
water-powered mill. He later converted to steam power by
using coal mined on his property, although the state of road
transport over the Blue Mountains did not allow for
The village emerged in the early 1830s to serve
travellers along Mitchell's new line of road to Bathurst,
completed in 1832. Mitchell named the township after George
Mears Bowen, a former member of his department with whom he
Several inns emerged in the early days. One was used as a
changing station by Cobb & Co. Governor Fitzroy is known to
have stayed at Binning's Inn around 1850. The first
Presbyterian Church (1842) and national school (1851) west
of the Blue Mountains were also established here.
When the railway arrived in 1869, Main Camp No. 5 was set
up near where the station at North Bowenfels now stands. The
railway enabled the industrialisation and development of
Lithgow but it also signalled the decline of the road-town
Things to see:
Tourist information is available from the Lithgow Visitors'
Centre, tel: (02) 6353 1859.
Bowenfels Cashmere Farm
From the Lithgow turnoff, head south along the highway
towards Katoomba for about 2 km. Just past the service
station, turn right into Rydal Rd (it is signposted for Lake
Lyell and Bowenfels Cashmere Farm). About 2 km along this
road there is another turnoff on the right, signposted for
the cashmere farm.
Goat shearing and combing are carried out from mid-July
to August. There are cashmere and cashgore spinning yarns
and knits, goat skin products, barbecue facilities and
donkey-cart rides. They are open weekends and public
holidays, from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., tel: (02) 6353 1480.
If you ignore the turnoff to the cashmere farm, the main
road will lead, after 3 or 4 km, to Lake Lyell which was
built by the Electricity Commission to provide cooling water
for the Wallerawang and Mt Piper power stations. It offers
the prospect of trout fishing, swimming, power boating,
waterskiing and hydroplane racing. There is a camping area
with toilets and picnicking facilities.
Evans Crown Nature Reserve
22 km west of South Bowenfels is the small rural village of
Tarana. As you approach Tarana watch out for a house on the
right called 'Blink Bonny' and a power-cable tower to the
left. Follow the road around the corner and turn left into
Honeysuckle Falls Rd which soon leads past Evans Crown
Nature Reserve, an attractive bushwalking area with diverse
fauna and flora and some outstanding granite tors. Crown
Rock was an initiation and corroboree site for the Wiradjuri
people. From its apex George Evans first sighted the
Bathurst Plains in 1813. Today it is popular with abseilers.
The track to the summit is not that difficult and takes
about half an hour. There are no facilities nor designated
The village of Old Bowenfels lies on the western side of the
highway. The nucleus of the settlement is the oldest
Presbyterian Church west of the Blue Mountains. This Gothic
Revival structure was built in 1842 of dressed local
sandstone with floorboards of pit-sawn mountain ash and
cedar joinery (including the pulpit). There is a large hall
at the rear.
The complex was financed and organised by Andrew Brown,
who built Cooerwull Academy (now known as De La Salle
Lithgow and founded St Andrew's College at the
University of Sydney. He is buried in the cemetery, along
with other local pioneers. A sessions house was added in
Somerset House is a two-storey brick and sandstone residence
with an attic which was built as an inn around 1840. A brick
addition was made c.1870 with scalloped bargeboards. It is
linked to the stone section by a five-bay timber verandah.
There are some stone stables to the rear.
The school is situated along a road which heads west off the
highway. The building on the left, at the entrance, was the
original schoolhouse (1851). It was the first national
school to be opened west of the Blue Mountains. The other
stone building was erected as a new schoolhouse in 1858 and
the older building became the schoolmaster's residence.
Adjacent the school is Ben Avon, a large single-storey
building of dressed sandstone with an attic, dormer windows,
an eight-bay verandah supported by fluted timber posts.and a
picket fence. It was built around 1845 as a store and
residence and later became the Royal Hotel which was a Cobb
& Co changing station.
Ulmera was built of sandstone in 1850 as Bowenfels Inn. In
1869 the Australian Joint Stock Bank opened an office in the
building but they moved to Lithgow soon thereafter.
Former Emu Store
The former Emu Store was built as a residence in 1840. A
front room was added in the 1850s when it became a shop.
Just beyond the Emu Store, McKanes Falls Rd (also known as
Lithgow Rd) heads south towards Hampton and the Jenolan
Caves. 4 km along the road you can see, to the right, Mt
Blaxland where there is a memorial cairn indicating that
this was the most westerly point reached by the 1813
expedition of Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson, the first
European party to find a route over the Blue Mountains.
A couple of kilometres further east along the highway, to
the right, is 'Fernhill', a single-storey dressed sandstone
building which was built c.1858 as the Australian Arms Inn.
It has a double-pitched hipped roof, a separate kitchen wing
and a rubble sandstone stables building.
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