• Website hosted and sponsored by Central West IT Lithgow

Date Signing Hartley’s Heritage


Date Signing our Heritage Trial


A Proposal to erect visible Date of Origin signs on Heritage Assets located in the Hartley Valley


1.   Introduction

The Hartley Valley community has long recognised the significance of the events of 1813-1818, the opening of the way to the west. An opening that led to the development of grazing, farming, transport services, mining, metallurgy, manufacturing and urban settlement in this area west of the mountains. The local community recognises that the 200th anniversary of the three explorers’ traverse of the Hartley Valley in 1813 presented major challenges and opportunities to tell a new story – not just of the crossing of the Blue Mountains, but of a turning point in the fates of both the colonists and the indigenous peoples.

In 2010 under the auspices of the Hartley Valley Progress Association a committee was established to consider appropriate ways to commemorate the crossing of the Blue Mountains by Europeans in 1813, to consider the consequences of the crossing and to tell the story of the Hartley Valley as a vital chapter in Australia’s story.  These include a range of functions and activities, the creation of a monument, various functions associated with the inauguration of the monument, a photographic exhibition and a history conference and a project to date sign significant heritage items located within the valley, the subject of this proposal.

This proposal describes a project to install date signs on some fifty Aboriginal and European heritage assets located within the Hartley Valley. The object of the project is to focus the attention of travellers transiting the valley on the rich array of heritage assets within the valley with a view to encouraging them to stop and explore. Associated elements of the project involve the development of interpretive material and maps referenced to the date signed assets, support material intended to enable viewers to form a deep understanding of the role the valley has played in the economic and social development of the region and inland Australia generally.

2.   Background

a.   Location

Located 120 kilometres west of Sydney, the Hartley Valley lies between the historic Blue Mountain towns of Mt Victoria and Lithgow and has at its heart the National Estate Listed Hartley Village.  It is a tiny tranquil valley that runs back up into the historic oil shale mining village of Hartley Vale, also a listed heritage asset.  A valley, bounded on each side by the 300 metre precipitous escarpments of the Blue Mountain plateau and drained by the River Lett (itself an historical spelling error having being noted on surveyor Evans’ sketch map  as a riverlett) which in turn flows into the Cox’s River that feeds Sydney’s main water supply,  Warragamba Dam.

The valley is the pass that facilitated the development of Western New South Wales. It’s discovery led to the immediate development of the valley as agricultural land with a well developed service sector serving the needs of those making their way to the Bathurst plans and places further west.  Those early settlers have left their mark in tracks, buildings, tree plantings, gravesites and in the boundary lines of their early land grants that are still clearly visible in the landscape today. This is a significant cultural landscape giving a deep insight into early colonial rural development.

b.   The Hartley Valley a Heritage Treasure Chest

The Hartley Valley is both beautiful and of outstanding historical significance, given the concentration of heritage assets that lie within the valley. It is often described as “the most historic inland valley in Australia” containing :

  • More than twenty early historic buildings, many having been built between 1820 and 1850, still occupied and in good condition and listed in the State Heritage Register.
  • The remnant remains of three convict/military stockades and many early settler  home sites, the latter often marked by no more than some hearth stones or a ruined chimney.
  • A number of significant indigenous heritage sites (including known grave sites) including the immensely culturally significant Hyde Park site dedicated by the Colonial administration as a park in 1881.
  • Several heritage cemeteries containing the graves of early settlers and convicts and including the grave of Henry Lawson’s father.
  • A nineteenth century industrial site in the Hartley Vale village, once a village of  approximately 600 people manufacturing kerosene and candles for Victorian Sydney.
  • The remains of the incline railway that traversed the 300 metre escarpment to serve the Hartley Vale site, together with the railway infrastructure (1860s) that connected the site to the main western line.
  • Numerous farm and residential properties of historical significance  that date prior to Federation, mostly listed in the Heritage Register in the Local Environment Plan
  • The valley floor access to six historic roads down the escarpment,  four of which bear the marks of convict picks. Convicts despatched in the reigns of George III, George IV and   William IV.
  • The town plans for three Victorian subdivisions.
  • In addition the valley is littered with  historical artefacts, sandstone blocks bearing convict marks, early convict bricks, ancient bottles and the remains of the Hartley Vale industrial site, a once rich source of bits and pieces for use on local farms.

And perhaps most significant of all:

  • the vista from Mt York, won by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth when they succeeded in their historic crossing of the mountains in 1813. A vista into the valley, which was named by Governor Macquarie  on Saturday 29th April 1815 “Clwyyd  after the vale of the same name in Wales” and which itself is listed in the Local Heritage Register.


The Hartley Valley is an historic gem, a score of European settlement  heritage assets dating from the first hundred years of settlement, delineated by an escarpment  that stands as ruggedly beautiful as the day it was first seen through European eyes . Furthermore it remains a tranquil rural place much as it was in the mid nineteenth century, all the more significant for its proximity to a city of 5 million people within two hours drive. What it is, what is within it, and it’s potential as a heritage destination within two hours drive of Sydney can be the foundation of its future, the source of its preservation, a heritage inspiration for visitors and a source of long term value for its residents.

c.    Heritage as a source of value

The above all said the historic significance of the Hartley Valley is pretty much a secret. Ask the average traveller from Sydney and they have no idea, beyond the Hartley Historic Village site if you are lucky. Little has been done to promote it, so few know.

The tranquil rural charm, the spectacle provided by the escarpment and the plethora of heritage assets represent a huge potential. A potential to make people appreciate the Hartley Valley as a tourist destination of national significance and as a place to live.

To those running tourist businesses in the valley heritage appreciation can translate into more heritage tourism based trade. More visitors means more coffees, more visits to open historic venues, more overnight stays, more purchases of local production. Increased revenues are then reflected in increased business values.

To those living in the valley it will potentially enhance the value of their properties. City folk looking for a ‘place in the country’ as either a secondary (holiday) or primary residence invariably seek tranquillity, proximity to services (city) and a picturesque location. In addition they look for a factor that makes the location of their ‘place’ special –the Hartley Valley has huge potential to be seen as a special place of national significance because of its European heritage assets. Land values reflect supply and demand. More demand because of more people desiring to live in the Hartley Valley will progressively mean higher land values.

Enhanced visitor based business revenues and higher land and business values will progressively enrich the valley. This enrichment itself will provide an environment conducive to the better preservation of the Hartley Valley’s heritage assets for future generations, with funds to preserve heritage assets and a reason to do so. The first step down this path is to build an appreciation in the minds of travellers that in travelling through the valley they are traversing a special place, a place loaded with European and Aboriginal heritage assets.

3.   Date Signing our heritage assets

As a first step in lifting an appreciation of the Valleys heritage assets it is a proposed to  install a date (of origin/ building/etc) sign to mark heritage buildings and other heritage assets located in the Hartley Valley. The signs in question would be large enough to be viewed comfortably at a distance of 50 metres and robust enough to withstand the rigours of weather and time. They would need to be tasteful in order to be acceptable to owners and residents of such properties and would need to be of limited content (eg c1823) in order that they would be acceptable to Council and RMA regulators.

The installation of clearly visible/readable signs will have an immediate effect of catching driver attention to the antiquity of the various building located in the valley especially those along the highway. Their simplicity will ensure one message only is conveyed – ‘Very Old’. Building on this first step will be the development of some appropriately sited maps of the valley showing the names, building dates and locations of heritage assets within the valley. In a further development the various locations will be cross referenced to a data base of information relating to the various properties/places. At the simplest level, this could be made available in hard copy, but could be enhanced by delivery through a dedicated local FM broadcast or say an Iphone app. The provision of supportive glove box maps and interpretive material – for tourists interested in an ‘off highway’ tour of the valley’s back roads – will be an early complement that could be developed as part of the whole project of linking places to interpretive material. The material in the Lithgow City Council 1990’s historical survey of the region represents a rich source from which to build such a linked briefing resource.

Whilst it is proposed to limit this project to Hartley Valley heritage assets, it is appreciated that the concept may lend itself to expansion to other areas in the district, the whole of which has enormous largely untapped heritage tourism potential. Because of its simplicity, such date signing could easily be implemented in other areas as a complement to already existing heritage signage.

The initial signage proposed is merely a discrete date sign. It is intended to be simple in the extreme as a first step – an oval dark coloured sign bearing a light coloured date. It is proposed however that the basic sign could be added to in future, by allowing space immediately below it to install a small banner sign. This could be used to add a reference number to each location to help to cross reference sites to interpretive material. A key requirement of the basic, and any further signage, would be to ensure the signage was not distracting for drivers.

In order to achieve a high level of consistency and recognition of the date signing arrangement it is proposed that even properties that already display a date (e.g. Rosedale) should additionally be date signed in the proposed new format

4.   Project stages

a.   Settlement of Sites List

Attached is a draft list of potential sites worthy of recognition( Appendix 1). It generally reflects properties and places that are listed as heritage items in the current Lithgow City Council (LCC) Land Use Strategy document that is the precursor to the new LCC Local Environment Plan. The appendix hasn’t been prepared by reference to date based criteria, but more on a broad ‘what’s interesting’ assessment without any regard to accessibility or even visibility in some cases. It has been a desire to provide some recognition that the valley was an important place to Aboriginal people and to provide a platform for further development of that theme.  Prior to proceeding to stage two work will be undertaken to validate and record the source of the dates attributed to each property/place

b.   Preliminary publication

To start the process of socialising this proposal with the community it is intended to publish a list of the heritage properties concerned through the Hartley District Progress Association Newsletter. This publication will invite the correction of build dates as an element in the validation and settlement of the heritage assets listed in the proposed date signed properties list.

c.    Socialisation

After the initial publication of heritage assets list, a more formal process of socialising the proposal to date sign properties will commence. At this stage owners of properties proposed for date signing will be consulted to seek their views and their agreement to the proposal  as a whole, and specifically to erect a date sign outside their property. This will probably be done by calling a meeting of affected owners that can be used to ascertain their reaction – both en masse, and individually – to the proposal.  It is envisaged that a mock up of the proposed signage would be available to inform this process. At the completion of this consultation, all individual owners who accept the proposal will be invited to sign a memorandum of agreement relating to the installation of the sign adjacent to their property. To assist in this process some of the final detail relating to signage design will be allotted to the larger property owner group.

d.   Map publication

Contemporaneously with the consultation process outlined above it is proposed to publish a map of the valley naming and dating the various heritage items located in the valley. This map on A3 paper could be a pre cursor of information maps in large scale that might at a later stage be mounted at appropriate locations near to each entrance to the valley.

e.   Date signing

This principle element of the project will be delivered by installing each of the custom made date signs adjacent to each of the properties who have agreed to the display of such signage.  It is envisaged that such work might be undertaken by Lithgow City Council

f.    Data base establishment

The final stage in this program will entail the development of interpretive material relating to each of the date signed locations. The material assembled in the Lithgow Heritage Study completed in the late 90s might be a primary source for the development of this data base. This stage of the project could be delivered in various ways, and lends itself to being made accessible through an ever-increasing range of inspiring technical solutions as a secondary stage. In the first instance this element of the program will be achieved by the production of a simple cross referenced set of hard copy interpretative notes.



5.   Timeline


Completion date
Peer review including Wendy Hawkes June 2012
Initial application to council for in principle agreement of proposedsignage and determination of whether DA required  July 2012
Completion of draft list of heritage assets proposed for signage July 2012
Grant application (RAHS NSW Heritage Grants Drives and Walks) 20th July 2012
Completion of prototype of a sign August 2012
Application to RMA for agreement to highway signage August 2012
Drafting complete on owner  date signage agreement Sept 2012
Community publication of Hartley Valley Heritage Signage proposal Sept HDPA NL
Invitation to property owners to meet to consider the proposal Sept 30th
Meetings with owners of properties proposed for signage October 2012
Settlement of final list of properties to be date signed December 2012
Funds availability checkpoint December 2012
Sign posts/date medallions manufacture commences April 2013
Initial wave of installations commences May 2013
Installation complete Mid to late 2013

6.   Costs and Funding

Costings for the production of the signs have been obtained from Lithgow Valley Engineering based on the drawings at annexure ii. Whilst the required pipe bend cannot be done in Lithgow quotes were obtained from a Victorian firm as a subcontractor. Based on quotes received the a price of $248 plus GST has been established as an indicative price for the post structure and the date medallion assembled and powder coat finished in a single colour. This pricing has been based on an assumption of manufacturing runs of twenty per time.

The current proposal from Lithgow Valley Engineering suggests stock lettering, available in  3mm steel plate, be used , each powder coated and affixed to the date medallion using tamperproof fittings. With each letter costing $3 plus GST an allowance of $50 plus GST has been made for this element of the work for an all up cost of say $300 per sign. Assuming the support of Lithgow City Council in the installation of signs without any charge, this costing would suggest a total project cost for say 40 date signs of $12,000. Some mechanism will need to be found to enable recovery of the GST input tax credit. Perhaps purchase can be effected through Lithgow City Council.

The current costings are based on the design proposed and have been the subject of only one quotation. As the project proceeds and is subject to broader and more expert assessment (e.g. by Lithgow City Council signage experts) potential may be indentified to lower the cost of each sign. Similarly, obtaining quotes from other suppliers, including expert sign manufacturers, may lead to better pricing.

It is proposed to apply for a grant of $10,000 in the current round of the New South Wales Government Heritage Grants –  Drives and Walks section. Further funding might be sought from other grant providers, commercial sponsors or private subscriptions. In the event of lesser funding being available the project would be able to be delivered progressively, for instance, over a two year term.

7.   Specifications of Signage

It is important that the signage is attractive to property owners, that they will desire to have the signs installed. Additionally the signage needs to be robust to ensure its durability, and well finished to ensure it will not corrode. An overriding requirement is that it be safe. The following is a 10% miniature of the proposed signage medallion in a suggested colour scheme. The colour scheme proposed may be varied to reflect any better scheme that might emerge through the process of stakeholder consultation


1813 sign for Hartley


Attached is a diagram of the proposed signpost, together with a date medallion. (Appendix 11)  The sign itself is a metal oval some 380mm long and 250mm high (bearing the year date sign e.g. c 1823) affixed into a post structure that is an inverted U of 40mm galvanised pipe having a curve that matches the curve of the oval  date sign. The inverted U will stand 900mm above ground level with a further 500mm below ground embedded in concrete. The oval sign is intended to be constructed from 6mm steel plate which will be affixed to a flat strap of 50 x 4mm strap welded across the inverted U just before the curve at the top, such that the oval sign can be affixed with rivets in such a way that the sign will nestle within the inverted U, its edges made safe by the surrounding pipe. The date sign and the post structure will be powder coated to provide a hard glossy finish.




8.   Miscellaneous Considerations

a.   Privacy

The process of date signing is not intended to detract in any way from the right of quiet enjoyment of property owners. All material produced in relation to this date signing program will emphasise the fact that signing is for information only and doesn’t imply any invitation to enter signed properties. It should be noted that Rosedale at the foot of Victoria Pass has been signed as an 1839 building for many years without consequence.

b.   Liability

Consideration needs to be given to the issue of risk and liability associated with the installed signs. Whilst designed with safety in mind there is always the possibility of an accident arising as a result of location or untoward circumstance. Some legal advice will be taken on this issue. The ideal solution will be to have the project delivered by Lithgow City Council. Such an arrangement would probably be viewed positively by affected residents, and enhance their willingness to participate.

c.    Tendering

Whilst indicative quotes have been received there may be benefit in utilising a more rigorous tender process. This might be achieved by using Lithgow City Council resources or assistance.


Appendix 1 List of Sites

Date Signing our Heritage

List of relevant heritage assets


1 Ambermere 1846
2 Meades Farm 1860
3 Bungarribee 1859
4 Hartley Catholic cemetery 184?
5 Hartley Court House 1837
67 Crazy Cottage 1872?
8 Farmers Inn 1840s
9 Fernhill 1858
10 Harp of Erin 1832
11 Williams Store (Harp of Erin extension)
12 Ivy Cottage 1850s
13 Shamrock Inn 1841-56
14 Hyde Park 1881
15 Billesdene Grange 1831
16 Old Trahlee 1840
17 Royal Hotel 1849
18 Rosedale 1839
19 St Bernards Catholic 1842
20 St Bernards presbytery 1842
21 St Johns Anglican church 1859
22 Comet Inn 1879
23 Collitts Inn 1823
24 Collitts cemetery 1841
25 Collitts Inn Aboriginal Axe Sharpening Grooves 1788
26 Moyne farm 1820
27 Moyne Farm cemetery 18??
28 Coxs road 1814
29 Lawson Long Alley road 1823
30 Lockyers pass road 1828
31 Victoria Pass viaduct 1832
32 Bells Line siding road 1826/1880
33 Berghoffers pass 1912
34 Blackmans cemetery 184?
35 Hassans walls cemetery 184?
36 Hartley School House 1881
37 Hartley Vale school house
38 Hartley Vale incline railway 1880?
39 Hartley Vale works 1876
40 Nioka 18??
41 Bonnie Blink 1885/6        Pat Connell
42 Eliza Rodd’s grave 1828? 1831 actually
43 Glenroy Governor Macquarie Camp site 1815
44 Glenroy stockade 1816
45 Hassans Walls Stockade 18??
46 Victoria Stockade site 183?
47 Bicentenary Western Crossings Reflection Site 2013

Appendix II

signage installation

Comments are closed.