Ruined Castle industrial archaeology

Below are a series of photographs taken on a recent bushwalk to the Ruined Castle. The group of 10 walkers were seconded to assist with some industrial archaeology, spending the day searching for relics of the area’s mining past.

They were led by Philip Hammon, who not only co-authored the most authoritative book on the area’s mining history (The Burning Mists of Time: A technological and social history of mining in Katoomba) but is also a life-long Katoomba local whose family have owned and run Scenic World for almost 70 years.

While millions of tourists gaze across the Jamison Valley at the Ruined Castle, few realise the significance of this spot to the birth of Katoomba. It was the high-grade oil shale buried under this rocky pinnacle that let to the creation of the town, also inspiring the construction of the arial ropeway that once crossed the valley, along with the tramway that still forms the basis of the walking track used to this day.

For this trip the group headed directly to the Ruined Castle, searching the area where the mine once operated. Thanks to the good-sized crew — not to mention their handy metal detector — they were quite successful, locating a number of items of interest including the remains of three mining skips, a rope saddle and bucket from the ropeway, a buried metal pipe and two rail dogs.

Despite the fact that this is a popular spot for bushwalkers, thick undergrowth makes locating historic remnants quite challenging, meaning few have any idea what still remains.

Much of what was found was downhill of the old mine adits. From these adits, the skips once ran out about a metre above the main track level, tipping shale into horse-drawn skips below or continuing past to dump stone or other waste down the side of the hill.

While the metal remains of three of these old mining skips were located, all the timbers had completely rotted or burnt away, leaving not so much as a trace under the bolt heads or in other protected spots.

Phil also reported an extremely disappointing case of the region’s industrial past being pillaged, with somebody going to extreme trouble to steal the chain from the rope end at the tension pit from the old ropeway. It was cut free with a battery powered grinder, and given it weighs close to 100kg it would have being quite a challenge to lug it out of the valley. It’s very sad to see the limited remains of the region’s mining past being stolen by a greedy few!

The team (photo Philip Hammon)
The team
Drill mark in rock on old tramway route (photo Philip Hammon)
Drill mark in rock on old tramway route
Walking along the track (photo Philip Hammon)
Walking along the track
Two hole fishplate (photo Philip Hammon)
Two hole fishplate
End of two inch pipe (photo Philip Hammon)
End of two inch pipe
Two rail dogs (photo Philip Hammon)
Two rail dogs
Pull bar from mine skip (photo Philip Hammon)
Pull bar from mine skip
End frame of mine skip (photo Philip Hammon)
End frame of mine skip
Door latch from mine skip (photo Philip Hammon)
Door latch from mine skip
Door hinge from mine skip (photo Philip Hammon)
Door hinge from mine skip
Gauge of wheel set (photo Philip Hammon)
Gauge of wheel set
Worn through shaft bearing from mine skip (photo Philip Hammon)
Worn through shaft bearing from mine skip
Mining skip wheel set (photo Philip Hammon)
Mining skip wheel set
Lettering on inside rim of mine skip wheel set (photo Philip Hammon)
Lettering on inside rim of mine skip wheel set
Wheel set from a mining skip (photo Philip Hammon)
Wheel set from a mining skip
End of inbye rope from arial ropeway (photo Philip Hammon)
End of inbye rope from arial ropeway
Arial ropeway tower saddle (cat 3) (photo Philip Hammon)
Arial ropeway tower saddle (cat 3)
Suspected mine adit. Stick is approximately 2 metres long (photo Philip Hammon)
Suspected mine adit. Stick is approximately 2 metres long
Bucket from arial ropeway (photo Philip Hammon)
Bucket from arial ropeway
Square bar (photo Philip Hammon)
Square bar
Track up to the Ruined Castle (photo Philip Hammon)
Track up to the Ruined Castle
Square bar (photo Philip Hammon)
Square bar
Flowering mistletoe (photo Philip Hammon)
Flowering mistletoe
More rock orchids about to flower (photo Philip Hammon)
More rock orchids about to flower
Rock orchids in bud (photo Philip Hammon)
Rock orchids in bud
View from Ruined castle --notated (photo Philip Hammon)
View from Ruined castle –notated
Telephoto of modern cableway at Scenic World (photo Philip Hammon)
Telephoto of modern cableway at Scenic World
Castle Head as seen from  Ruined Castle (photo Philip Hammon)
Castle Head as seen from Ruined Castle
Platysace linearfolia on Ruined Castle (photo Philip Hammon)
Platysace linearfolia on Ruined Castle
Eastern entrance of the Mt. Rennie Tunnel (Rennies Tunnel) (photo Philip Hammon)
Eastern entrance of the Mt. Rennie Tunnel (Rennies Tunnel)
The crew (photo Philip Hammon)
The crew
Historic photo of the southern terminal of the arial ropeway to Ruined Castle (photo Philip Hammon)
Historic photo of the southern terminal of the arial ropeway to Ruined Castle
The view from Ruined Castle (photo Philip Hammon)
The view from Ruined Castle
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