This is the Capertee Valley located in the Central Tablelands, a 30-minute drive north of Lithgow or a three hour drive west of Sydney. The Capertee Valley is said to be longer than the Grand Canyon of USA by almost a kilometre. Capertee’s sandstone escarpments soar to hundreds of metres in height and encircle the valley from south of Mount Marsden near the town of Capertee all the way to the short-lived mining town of Glen Davis, 20 kilometres to the west, and beyond, broadening out as it goes until the escarpments are in excess of 30 kilometres from north to south.
This is geology on a grand scale, a world of slot canyons, towering limestone formations and prehistoric Wollemi Pines – world-class scenery that is wild and breathtaking. A man in the name of Peter Roberts a proprietor of Wheely Good 4WD Tours said that abandoned diamond mines dug into the mountainside by Col Ribaux was once a part of the place, produced diamonds as big as peas. Ribaux, a former prospector and geologist with mining giant De Beers, once found 77 diamonds in six days and still lives in the area with a horde of uncut opals and a fossilized dinosaur egg that bears an uncanny resemblance to a granite bowling ball.
There are billabongs lined with water reeds in the shadows of banded granite outcrops, with water so pure and deep that they never dry up. Aboriginal rock art of stenciled hands, boomerangs and throwing sticks painted by the local Wiradjuri people speaks of a 2000-year history of corroborees with other tribes from the adjacent Wolgan Valley and beyond.
The valley first came to prominence in the 1930s, not for the landforms that rose from its floor but for the vast geological deposits that lay beneath. The Capertee Valley, it turned out, was far more than just escarpments, canyons and rugged, towering monoliths. It was also home to one of the planet’s largest reserves of high-grade oil shale.
The bitumen road that winds its way through the valley ends at the small town of Glen Davis, built in the 1930s to service an oil shale industry that ultimately failed to live up to its promise. Glen Davis became a virtual ghost town in the 1960s but now is a kind of beacon that draws you up through the valley for no reason other than to see just how far you can go.
This was the story of a writer who was a guest of Wheely Good 4WD and featured in a Travel Guide Webiste.
We’re a bit lucky when we went to this place; weather was fine including the temperature. We drove into the Glen Davis up to recently renovated art deco luxury of the Glen Davis Boutique Hotel, built in 1939, and it was indeed spectacular, a perfect beauty that admiration exceeds not just curiosity. Then we drove back and into the Wolgan Valley, with its’ narrow and winding zig zag road down to the valley.
This is a great place where photographers would surely enjoy photographing nature at its best. If I had a chance too, I would like to set foot once again into this picturesque canyon preferably for a longer period and probably will camped out at Glen Davis to further explore the hidden beauty of the remarkable place.