By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
Celebrate the colonial past with the annual Back to Hartley produce market and family fair on October 27.
Held by National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) which manages the site, the community event will be held at the Hartley Historic Site, where buildings tell the story of the village from the 1837 Greek Revival courthouse to Corneys Garage built in 1945 of timber and iron.
Set among pastures, orchards, native plants and 19th and 20th century cottage gardens, the village’s sandstone buildings preserve an important piece of history – the settlement of inland Australia.
The settlement began when a need for a police centre in the Hartley Valley led to the construction of Hartley Court House in 1837.
During the next 50 years a bustling village grew around the courthouse, the judicial and administrative centre surrounded by churches and accommodation, a post office and staging facilities.
The village served both travellers and settlers west of the Blue Mountains until it was surpassed by the Great Western Railway in 1887 and became stagnant and fell into decline.
In 1972 the village was declared an historic site under the management of NPWS.
Today, it includes 17 buildings of historical significance, two privately owned, including Old Trahlee (1840), Post Office (1846), St. Bernard’s Presbytery and St. Bernard’s Church (1842) still operating as a Catholic church, Shamrock Inn Cottage (1841) and the Court House (1837).
Visitors to the site during the Back to Hartley day can explore the artefacts and family histories, find out about the region’s past at the visitor centre or enjoy a picnic in the serenity of historic Hartley.
Ramble along the new Kew-Y-Ahn walking track to the majestic granite tors, explore the courthouse and other colonial buildings and browse the variety of artisan, craft and local produce stalls or the Talisman Gallery on the hill.
Listen to live music, try your hand at archery, marvel at the vintage bikes at Corney’s garage and check out the NPWS Park Air 1 helicopter and meet members of the remote fire crew.
Hartley Historic Site manager Steve Ring said funds raised from the Back to Hartley day would go towards Lithgow Volunteer Rescue Association and Lithgow Lions Club.
“Back to Hartley is a family day out,’’ he said. “It’s also a great opportunity for NPWS to engage the community and promote the area.’’
Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Randall Walker said: “Back to Hartley is a wonderful celebration of our colonial past and a chance to explore the beautiful buildings at the site.
“The Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region is so rich in heritage, attractions and activities for the whole family that it’s always worth staying a night or three to fully experience our beautiful backyard.’’
The region has a range of accommodation and dining options suitable for all budgets and tastes. Details: www.visitbluemountains.com.au.
Back to Hartley will be held at Hartley Historic Site, Old Bathurst Rd (just off Great Western Hwy), Hartley, from 9am to 4pm Sunday, October 27. Cost: $5 per vehicle. Details: (02) 6355 2117.