Located in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, 130km west of
The original (Old) Newnes Junction Station on Dargans Deviation
in 1910 with the Wolgan Valley Railway leading off to the top of
The 53km (30 mile) railway was designed and
built in 1906-07 by the famous engineer Henry Deane for the
Commonwealth Oil Corporation (COC) to exploit oil shale deposits in
an isolated part of the Wolgan Velley. The township that
subsequently developed was named Newnes after Sir George Newnes, a
director of COC. It is to the north of Lithgow and the Zig Zag
Railway. An oil shale refinery was constructed.
(Old) Newnes Junction on Dargans Deviation was where the Wolgan
Valley Railway linked to the NSWGR Main Western Line, 12km east of
Lithgow and 3km from Zig Zag Railway.
The current Newnes Junction station lies some 500m further east,
having been relocated in 1910, when the Ten Tunnel Deviation was
opened, leading to closure of Dargans Deviation.
Initial output averaged 400 tons per day, consisting mainly of
shale ore for export and coke, with some refined oil. The refinery
experienced considerable difficulties with the 'cracking'
While principally a freight railway it also carried passengers
because Newnes was hard to access.
The Newnes shale oil works finally closed in 1932; having had a
troubled industrial and technological history over many years.
Competition came from (mineral) oil from the East Indies. The
railway officially closed at the same time but actually operated
intermittently until 1935-36 when lack of maintenance and
substantial washaways caused total closure.
Much material was transferred to Glen Davis, in a valley to the
north, where another oil shale deposit had been found. Oil was then
piped from the Glen Davis refinery through the mountains to Newnes
and then via a pipe buried beside the disused Wolgan Valley railway
line to storage tanks near (Old) Newnes Junction into the
Between 1940-1942 the railway line was lifted and much shipped to
Tobruk (N.Africa) where the steel rail formed part of the
However, the southern end of the Wolgan Valley Railway between
Newnes Junction and the old exchange sidings was not lifted. It
enjoyed a subsequent life as a Commonwealth siding as part of the
Australian government's diversified fuel storage plan during
More comprehensive information can be found in the 'The Shale
Railways of NSW', and Henry Deane's book 'The Wolgan Valley Railway
- Its Construction. (See Bibliography)
Updated 14 November 2008