Lithgow, NSW: Immersive colonial experience at Hartley
By Ellen Hill for Hartley Historic Site Photos: David Hill
New upmarket accommodation at the gateway to the NSW Central West gives visitors the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in Australia’s colonial past.
Surrounded by pastures, heritage orchards, cottage gardens and charming sandstone buildings, the St Bernard’s Presbytery and Old Trahlee properties at Hartley Historic Site will open for bookings from June.
Managed by the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) since 1972 under the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, the buildings are among the collection of 17 historic structures at the site.
Hartley Historic Site manager Steve Ring said: “Visitors to the site can already catch a glimpse into colonial Australian life during the day. Now they can soak up the full experience overnight.’’
“These are not just pleasant rooms in a nice but generic hotel. Like all NPWS accommodation experiences throughout the state, we have used unique antique knick-knacks and quality furnishings to complement the special character of both properties.’’
Set on the side of a hill overlooking the picturesque village, St Bernard’s Presbytery accommodates up to four people in one twin and one double bedroom. It has a full kitchen, spa bathroom, dining room and living room for guest use.
The presbytery building is believed to have been built about 1860 and used as the home of the resident priest to St Bernard’s Catholic Church next door until the mid-1880s, after which it was leased by local families until coming under NPWS management in 1972 and used as a visitor centre until the mid-1980s.
“Just imagine sitting on the verandah with a glass of exceptional regional wine watching the sandstone of the buildings in the foreground and the Blue Mountains escarpment in the distance light up at sunset,’’ Mr Ring said.
“In winter, what better way to end a day exploring the region than with a hot drink in front of a roaring fire?’’
While St Bernard’s Presbytery would be ideal for couples seeking a romantic retreat, the Old Trahlee property is best suited to families.
Built between 1846 and 1854 by John and Mary Finn, Old Trahlee accommodates six people in two double rooms and another with bunk beds.
There is also a baby’s cot in a separate room and standard wheelchair access to half the property including the kitchen, ambulant bathroom and one of the double bedrooms.
While at Hartley Historic Site, guests can take a self-guided tour of the Hartley Courthouse and St Bernard’s Catholic Church, browse affordable Aboriginal art at the Kew-Y-Ahn Art Gallery, stroll along the Kew-Y-Ahn Bell Rock Heritage Trail, have refreshments at the Old Post Office Café and visit Talisman Gallery showcasing Ron Fitzpatrick’s metal art.
Mr Ring also encouraged visitors to explore the wider region: “If you’re coming from Sydney, travel up the Great Western Highway and see the Blue Mountains, spend time with us, then drive into Lithgow and head home via the Bells Line of Road through the Hawkesbury to experience the World Heritage Area from a very different perspective.’’
St Bernard’s Presbytery ($390 per night, minimum two-night stay on weekends) and Old Trahlee ($280 per night, minimum two-night stay on weekends) are located at Hartley Historic Site, Old Bathurst Rd (just off Great Western Hwy), Hartley. Bookings: (02) 6355 2117 or www.bluemountainsgetaways.com.
Go to lithgowtourism.com, bluemountainscitytourism.com.au or visitnsw.com.au for information about dining options and activities in the region.
- Hartley Historic Site is a commercial client of Deep Hill Media and Headline Publicity