The Megalong Valley

Megalong ValleyFor those who know, the Megalong Valley is very special. It’s a place where as children their parents took them for picnics, horse riding and swimming in the clear waters of Megalong Creek. It is one of Australia’s well kept secrets - yet it is so close to Sydney - with its extraordinarily serene rural landscapes, majestic sandstone escarpments, native forests, wonderful bird life and unparalleled sunsets which paint magical pictures on the escarpment walls. There’s no urban encroachment whatever. No subdivision is permitted because the Megalong is at the centre of Sydney’s water catchment and is adjacent to the World Heritage Blue Mountains National Park.

The valley is very old, its bedrock first laid down 450 million years ago.Then about 250 million years ago the area that we now know as the Blue Mountains and the Sydney Basin were inundated by the sea which deposited a deep layer of sand.  Over many more millions of years this sand hardened into the sandstone.  At the beginning of the Triassic period 200 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed Australia, upward teutonic forces created the sandstone plateau that is the basic mountains landform today. This uplift caused rivers to run more vigorously, eroding the relatively soft sandstone to create the vast network of canyons and gorges - one of which is the Megalong Valley.

Finally, around 17 million years ago, molten igneous rock vented into the valley laying down the granite from which Dryridge vineyard soils are derived and which can be seen today in the form of large spherical boulders.

As part of the Gundungurra First Nation territory, the Megalong Valley is profoundly important to Aboriginal people and rich in their heritage. Megalong is thought to have meant ‘Valley Under the Rock’. For over 20,000 years it was an important indigenous pathway linking southern parts with the Hunter Valley; and sections of the Six Foot Track also formed an ancient route to the western tablelands.

Following European discovery and the way west through the Blue Mountains, a few hardy families settled in the valley from 1838 grazing cattle and pursuing other agriculture.  Timber getting began shortly after. There was significant mining of kerosene shale on the eastern escarpment later still. The first shale mine opened in 1870 and the Megalong township of 200 was quickly established - its ruins can still be seen along the Six Foot Track towards Katoomba, a short and pleasant walk from the estate. The last of the mining was in the first few years of the 20th Century.