Earlier in 2021, Lithgow City Council completed the heritage restoration of the Hartley Vale Bridge over Kerosene Creek, Hartley Vale. Council has been awarded by the local branch of the National Trust of Australia in recognition of the local significance and sensitivity of this project.

In April 2020, during routine structural assessments undertaken yearly on bridge assets throughout the Lithgow LGA, it was identified that the bridge immediately north-east of the Hartley Vale village required urgent works. To facilitate the necessary abutment reconstruction, the bridge was immediately closed to traffic and a temporary bridge and approaches were installed to cater to through traffic. Over a period of 10 months, Council worked with the Hartley Vale community, specialist heritage consultants, bridge construction experts and relevant state authorities to protect the heritage value of the bridge while also updating it to modern standards.

“Our city is characterised by both the beauty of its natural environment and its contrasting industrial and community infrastructure assets of years gone by”, said Lithgow City Council’s Mayor, Councillor Ray Thompson. “The Hartley Vale bridge is one of those unique assets, built by convicts in the 19th century, and forming one of the significant lines of road coming down into the valley known as the Old Bells Line of Road. This bridge and its connecting roads were essential in opening up western NSW.”

As Danny Whitty, Chairman of the local branch of the National Trust said, “a year ago we introduced a program to offer a simple thank you to owners of heritage properties who go out of their way to protect properties that contribute to our heritage reputation. The award in the form of a thank you certificate, acknowledges the multilayered history of the region and in this case Council’s sensitive refurbishment of the convict-built Hartley Vale Bridge. Council have done outstanding work in their sympathetic repair of this bridge that predates the glory days of Hartley Vale as a shale mining town and even the valley itself as the corridor through which much of Western New South Wales was settled.”

In acknowledging the receipt of the award on behalf of Council, Mayor Ray Thompson noted that, “Heritage is an important element of what we have to offer tourists. Eco and heritage tourism can play a significant part in the future economy of our region. I commend the trust in what they are doing to promote our built and natural heritage and I particularly commend them in their initiative to recognise and thank residents, in this case Council itself, who go out of their way to preserve and protect our heritage. I particularly thank them, on behalf of Council, for this recognition of Council having done good work to preserve this important reminder of our past.”