Hartley - Places to See

Hartley Court House
The centrepiece is the Hartley Court House which was designed by Mortimer Lewis and completed in 1837 for ?1476. It contains a well-preserved Courtroom and a couple of fascinating lockups where early convicts scratched their names, their sentences and their crimes into the timber-lined walls.

St Bernard's Church and Presbytery
Over the road is St Bernard's Presbytery, built in the late 1850s, which has been well preserved. Once a home for the priests who held mass at St Bernard's Church (1848), it is now a private residence.

St Bernard's was built from stone quarried at South Bowenfels and timber handsawn in nearby pits. The church has a distinctive French influence which, it is believed, was the result of an enthusiasm for French religious architecture by one of the early priests. If you look carefully you can see that the stone bricks have been cut by different stonemasons (they have distinctive styles) and it is possible to see pit saw marks on the roof timbers. The sandstone altar was hand-tooled to look like marble.

The Farmer's Inn
Next to St Bernard's is The Farmer's Inn which dates from the mid-1840s. Originally built as a house by the Finn family it became an inn to take advantage of the accommodation requirements of miners heading for the Turon goldfields. It has changed a number of times but at core it was built of sandstock bricks and shingles - both of which can still be seen.

Ivy Cottage
Beyond the Farmer's Inn is Ivy Cottage. It was built in the 1850s by the Finn family and soon became the Police Magistrate?s house. It is claimed that the magistrate, whose major job seemed to be dealing with drinks, hated the location between the Farmer's Inn and the Shamrock Inn.

Shamrock Inn
The Shamrock Inn, the last building in the main street, was built in 1856 and enjoyed enthusiastic patronage from the miners who passed through Hartley on their way to the goldfields. It is notable for its large number of chimneys and the prominent sagging of the roof.

Other Buildings
Return along the main street to the Court House and head towards the Great Western Highway. Next to the Presbytery is the Post Office, parts of which date from the mid-1840s. Around the corner, on the way up the hill to St John's Church, are Old Trahlee (two semi-detached cottages dating from the 1840s), Bungarribee which was the private residence of Thomas Finn, and the Church of St John the Evangelist, completed in 1859 at a cost of ?1356 and believed to be designed by Edmund Blacket, the architect of the central quadrangle at Sydney University.

The Royal
Over the road (and now a private residence) is The Royal, another inn which was opened in 1849 and soon became the local booking office for Cobb and Co. One source around the turn of the century described The Royal as 'one of the twelve hotels which formerly existed in Hartley...[it] continued in business for a great number of years, and, though not possessed of a license at the present day, is catering successfully for the increasing motor traffic to and from the Jenolan Caves. Few who seek refreshment within its hospitable walls are aware of the important place it formerly occupied in the coaching days, nor of its present day significance as the remaining relic of Hartley's former greatness.'


It is one of the thirteen historic inns listed on the excellent History Highway Inns website. Check it out at History Highway Inns which offers detailed information about the historic inns in the Blue Mountains.

Meads Farm
Situated on the Great Western Highway, at Little Hartley, Meads Farm is an historic inn which now offers comfortable self-contained bed-and-breakfast accommodation in the converted former stables.

The original building was a four-room structure of sandstock bricks erected in 1857. However, in the 1860s, kerosene shale was discovered locally which enabled the production, within Australia,of paraffin oil and kerosene. This was quite a boon as most families, in those pre-electricity days, were reliant upon lighting from the cooking fire or, at best, candles.

The discovery brought miners and their families and there were soon over 2000 people living in the area with shops, schools, farms and orchards in the area. More to the point, the unpleasant, tiring and risky work produced thirsty men in search of entertainment at the end of the working week. This situation prompted John Martin to convert Meads Farm into the Kerosene Hotel in 1866.

It is one of the thirteen historic inns listed on the excellent History Highway Inns website. Check it out at History Highway Inns which offers detailed information about the historic inns in the Blue Mountains.

Those interested in accommodation should ring (02) 6355 2143.

The Comet Inn
Another hotel which sprang up to meet the needs of the newly-arrived shale miners was The Comet Inn, erected in 1879 by Thomas Thompson and named after a brand of kerosene. It remained an inn until 1913, at which time kerosene production was in decline.

Today it offers bed-and-breakfast accommodation, a restaurant and function facilities situated on acres of gardens, an orchard and a walking track situated opposite the old shale workings. Located on Hartley Vale Road, at Hartley Vale, it can be contacted on (02) 6355 2247.

It is one of the thirteen historic inns listed on the excellent History Highway Inns website. Check it out at History Highway Inns which offers detailed information about the historic inns in the Blue Mountains.

Exploring Hartley and Beyond
It is possible to inspect all of Hartley's historic buildings in a relatively short time because only the Court House is open for inspection and most of the buildings are private residences which can only be viewed from the footpath or roadway. It is therefore quite reasonable to drive on to the Jenolan Caves (it is worth remembering that people who stayed at the Carrington in Katoomba in the 1880s used to make a three day trek by horseback to see the caves) which is 31 kilometres further on, on a good sealed road.

Handcrafted metal works, such as candelabra, furniture and mirrors are for sale at the Talisman Gallery, located at 2360 Great Western Highway, Little Hartley, tel: (02) 6355 2056. At 2329 Great Western Highway is the Harp of Erin Gallery which sells fine arts such as paintings, jewellery, etched glass, prints, ceramics, crafts and art cards in the old Harp of Erin Inn, which dates from around the 1830s. At the corner of the highway and Carroll Drive is the Artists Shed Gallery which sells traditional and modern-style paintings and sculpture. It is open most days, tel: (02) 6355 2377. Next door is Aldgate Gallery.