No visit to the area would be complete without a ride on the famous Zig Zag railway.
The Zig Zag is a full size, narrow gauge tourist railway located at Clarence, ten km east of Lithgow in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. Built in the 1860s, the line was constructed to transport people and produce from the western plains of NSW to Sydney. It was replaced in 1910 by a 10 tunnel deviation. The trains, track and rollingstock are maintained and operated by the Zig Zag Railway Co-op Ltd, a voluntary, “not for profit’ co-operative.
The Zig Zag Railway can be reached by road or by CityRail train. Zig Zag trains run every day of the year (except Christmas Day)
The Zig Zag Reserve hosts a well-equipped main picnic ground with table settings, bbq facilities, toilets (including disabled, railway relics for children to play on and well stocked kiosks for light refreshments. The grassy slope at Clarence has a perfect view of platform 9 3/4, to sit and enjoy a picnic and watch the trains roll in and out. There are other picnic grounds situated beside the line, which are accessible by walking or you can request the train set you down and collect you later on a return trip. The Zig Zag Railway reserve was declared a public reserve in 1881 and has always been a popular tourist destination in the Blue Mountain area, with its fine sandstone escarpments, exotic rock formations, mountain and Zig Zag views
Zig Zag Railway operates two kiosks, one at Clarence Station and the other at Bottom Points Station. They both stock Zig Zag souvenirs, including clothing, postcards, posters, and much more. They also stock Thomas the Tank memorabilia and other related train enthusiasts’ treats. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, pies, sausage rolls, sandwiches, confectionery and ice-creams are available from Clarence and Bottom Points stations, to keep your stamina up and to complement your own picnic bounty.
When you're a town that has nothing overly significant it pays to draw attention to yourself with something different, something weird, something attention getting. Ironfest fits the bill nicely.
Celebrate the festival of all things metal through entertainment, music and art. Ironfest features the International Jousting Championship, Colonial Re-enactments and the opportunity to purchase a wide array of locally produced art works.
I was stuck in Lithgow for a day and so I walked the streets and, in addition to the museum, just wandered around and took pictures.
One thing I found noteworthy was that Lithgow has a pride in its past.
Around 30 kms out on mostly dirt road there's a carpark where you stop and then start walking to the Glow Worm Tunnel. You actually have to pass through another tunnel (see pic 2) just to get there while you're in your vehicle.
Both tunnels are part of the old railway that used to service the shale mine at Newnes in the Wolgan Valley. Because of its shorter length and the vehicular traffic the first tunnel has no glow worms but the second is one of the finest examples you might come across in Australia.
However, there are walks nearby and I recommend that you include them in your itinerary.
The Pagoda Trail actually runs into the Glow Worm Trail and provides some excellent bush scenery and a wide variety of bird life.
Let's talk facts here. Lithgow never had a reputation as a tourist town. Lithgow was known for its small arms factory, its prison, its mine and, later, its power station.
Katoomba and such had all the glory of the Blue Mountains. Slowly, almost impercertably at times, this is changing.
One of the things that has helped is the small arms factory because, these days, there are only around 120 employees and it's owned by a French company but part of what used to be offices have been turned into an interesting museum and, one of the good things is, it's staffed by people who used to work there and thus have a wealth of knowledge. Because they're volunteers, they're also enthusiastic.
So, if you're in the town, I would recommend you call in. The cost is minimal and they have some very interesting exhibits.
This Saturday 8th August 2009 a great fun is about to happen!
Enjoy the magic and the mystery of the Zig Zag Railway’s Harry Potter themed Wizards Express with three hours of fun and laughter. Walk through the wall on Platform 9¾, listen to “The Hat” sort you into your House before boarding the train for the run to Hogsmeade. Don’t be a muggle, dress as your favourite character and practise your spells before you come. Bookings Essential. Tel: (02) 6355 2955
You will also see a magic show and some rather gruesome school food before your ride back to Clarence in the dark. Don’t be a muggle, dress as your favourite character and practise your spells before you come.
We've ridden the zigzag railway first when I was pregnant with my youngest and then some other time when the kids were younger and it is always different due to the views you will enjoy at different times of the year! It is fun especially if you love trains!
More photos soon!
Every trip from Clarence Station winds its way through the remarkable Blue Mountains’ scenery, offering glimpses of grand sandstone viaducts, accompanied by the chuffing steam locomotive. It is a chance to appreciate the difficult terrain that confronted the builders and marvel at how they brought the railway down into the Lithgow Valley and on westward.
The Zig Zag Railway was built between 1866 and 1869, and acclaimed a major engineering feat of its time. It was constructed to enable produce to be taken to Sydney from the prosperous farming areas beyond the Blue Mountains and to develop the coal and iron ore deposits found in the Lithgow Valley. The Zig Zag consists of a series of sloping tracks forming the letter "Z" with reversing stations at Top and Bottom Points. The track passes over three magnificent sandstone viaducts, through two tunnels with striking views over the surrounding countryside.
Taking a ride on the steam engine driven train is like going back in time to the late 19th century.
One of the highest lookouts in the blue mountains, one of my favourite locations here.. Particularly magic at sunset. :)