Apr 20, 2015

Valley Heights

Recently our walking group paid a visit to the Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum in Valley Heights, near Springwood in the Blue Mountains. The depot is the home of three groups: The Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum, the Steam Tramway, and a Model Railway group. The photo below shows the steam tram during the Centenary of the Locomotive Depot celebrations last year.                        Location map

Steam Tram 103a, at Valley Heights

We were shown around and told something of its history. The goods engines based at Valley Heights assisted almost every freight and passenger train destined for Mt. Victoria, Lithgow and beyond, over the longest continual and most steeply graded mainline in Australia.  

Steam operations from Valley Heights ended in 1957, but electric locomotives continued to assist steam hauled trains to Katoomba until electrification was completed. In latter years the depot become a freight wagon and electric locomotive repair workshop, and remained in use until 1988.

The museum  exhibits include:
- a Goods Steam Locomotive,
- a 46 class Electric Locomotive (built in 1956),  - an Ice Van and various other rolling stock.  There is also rail heritage displays and memorabilia.

The depot is usually open to the public on the 2nd & 4th Sunday each month.

The carriage seen in the photo (right) is the beautifully restored "Caves Express" First Class carriage. The carriage was in use in the late 1920s and 30s on the Caves Express between Sydney and Mount Victoria. The photo below shows a section of the kitchen in the same carriage.

 A railway model (below) shows the depot as it once was, with roundhouse, turntable and steep timber trestle leading to the elevated coal stage storage bin.

The volunteer workers at the Depot have achieved some impressive results. It was a very interesting morning, topped off after lunch, with a pleasant 5.75km walk around a nearby fire trail. My thanks to all involved.

           We ended our walk at Valley Heights station.                    GPS trace map 

Apr 2, 2015

Wolli Creek and Cooks River

Our walk started at Bardwell Park, around 12Km SW of Central Sydney. The Two Valley Trail led us through bushland, parkland and riverside to Canterbury along the Wolli Creek and Cooks River Valleys, via their junction at Tempe.

The Wolli Creek Valley was filled with orchards, market gardens and other farms in the mid 1800 and early 1900s.
Our walk leader showed us a pond, which once supplied a farm house, can still be seen filling with water dripping down from the rugged sandstone escarpment above. The pond is obscured by ferns in the photo above. [more history]

This 'fishway channel' at Turrella, allows fish to travel between the saltwater section of Wolli Creek and the freshwater on the other side of the weir.
 Many native species need freshwater creeks to feed, breed and avoid predators.

below: 'At the beginning of the 1900s, the Schwebel family had quarries in Marrickville and Undercliffe, on each side of the river, and William Jackson opened a quarry above Wolli Creek. The street of six stone cottages he built for his family, Jackson Place, is an important site in the heritage of the area'.  
Judy Finlason, The Place That Jackson Built: The Story Behind Six Stone Cottages, Wolli Creek Preservation Society, 1999

The Cooks River (left) 'runs through some of the most heavily urbanised and industrialised areas in Australia, but many parts of the river and its foreshores offer beautiful riverside walkways, cycle paths and wonderful parks ...' - Cooks River Alliance

The Australian Sugar Company once refined sugar at Canterbury. The 'Sugar House' (right) near the Cooks River was a sugar mill from 1842 until it closed in 1854, due to a labour shortage caused by the gold rush. The building, built with local standstone, was converted to residential apartments in 2002.     more industrial history

We finished our walk at Canterbury and returned to the City by train.          

Ref: The Wolli Creek Preservation Society pdf