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Cullen Bullen, NSW

Cullen Bullen - Village near the superb Gardens of Stone National Park.

The tiny village of Cullen Bullen, which is little more than a hotel and a few houses for people who work in the local mines and the power stations, is located on the main road from Sydney to Mudgee. The central appeal of the town lies in the particularly beautiful Wongan Valley and Gardens of Stone National Park, both of which are accessible by 4WD and lie to the east of the town. 

Location

Cullen Bullen is located on the Mudgee Road, via the Great Western Highway, 166 km north-west of Sydney and 29 km north of Lithgow. 

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Origin of Name

The first land grant was taken up by Robert Dulhunty who was on good terms with the Wiradjuri Aborigines and chose 'Cullen Bullen' which are Wiradjuri words which are supposed to mean 'lyre bird'.

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Things to See and Do

Gardens of Stone National Park
The Gardens of Stone National Park is an inaccessible, but spectacular park, which is 177 km from Sydney via the Great Western and Castlereagh Highways. Access to the park is via a 4WD road at Ben Bullen which is signposted 'Gardens of Stone National Park'. It leads through to the Wolgan Valley Road which heads north-east from Lidsdale (on the Castlereagh Highway) to the historic mining settlement at Newnes. There are useful maps at http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/gardens-of-stone-national-park/visitor-info#Getting-there-and-parking.
Quite unlike the rest of the Blue Mountains (it is at the very edge of the mountains) the Gardens of Stone National Park is a very beautiful wilderness area of limestone outcrops, precipitous sandstone cliffs, pagoda-like rock formations and a diversity of fauna and flora. The area is ideal for bushwalking, particularly in the MacLeans Pass area and around Donkey Pass, although there are no marked trails or facilities. You can walk to Pantoneys Crown from Baal Bone Gap. 
Of particular interest to 4WD enthusiasts is the Ben Bullen Trail which, as the National Parks site notes, "turns Gardens of Stone National Park into a spectacular adventure for driving enthusiasts. Suitable for high clearance and well-equipped 4WDing, the trail snakes along the Great Dividing Range, through Ben Bullen State Forest, and into the park. The 4WD trail passes steep sandstone cliffs along the way, with scenic views over the Wolgan and Capertee valleys." A sensible starting point, with lots of good advice, is the National Parks and Wildlife Service - Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath, tel: (02) 4787 8877.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the district was occupied by the Wiradjuri Aboriginal people. 

* The first European in the district was James Blackman who surveyed a roadway from Wallerawang to Mudgee in 1821. 

* The explorer, William Lawson, was in the area by 1822.

* Allan Cunningham, the well known explorer, investigated the flora and fauna of the area in 1822-23.

* The first land grant was taken up by Robert Dulhunty who built a homestead and began grazing sheep and cattle. Dulhunty also took up the first grant at what is now Ben Bullen north of Cullen Bullen.

* By the late 1840s the road to Mudgee had improved as a result of the discovery of gold at Hill End and Sofala. 

* The village of Cullen Bullen probably started as one of a number of stopping places on the road to the goldfields.

* In 1861 a post office was opened at Cullen Bullen. Thomas Loneragan married the postmistress (Margaret Hart) and the business moved over the road into Loneragan's house, where it stayed until 1914. It was also a store and provided meals and accommodation for passengers on the Cobb & Co coach service. 

* A school was established in 1875.

* The railway line to Mudgee made the area's coal commercially viable and the first coal mine opened in 1880. 

* The railway was extended to Capertee in 1882. It ran to the west of Cullen Bullen. 

* The Cullen Bullen Coal and Coke Company began operations in 1885. 

* A railway siding was constructed for the Coal and Coke company in 1889. 

* A hotel was built in 1889 on the Mudgee Road. 

* The local school was moved to its current site in 1895.

* In 1899 the Great Western Mine began operations at Tyldesley, just west of the village. 

* The Invincible Mine opened around 1900. It was employing 200 men by 1905. 

* The Renown Colliery opened in the early 1920s. 

* The Great Depression of the 1930s saw extensive lay-offs and industrial unrest. At this time the population of the town was around 1000. 

* Three new open-cut mines were established in the boom years immediately after World War II. 

* Continuous mining was introduced in the 1950s. Local mines found it hard to compete and they began to close from 1956. 

* Today the mines and the Mount Piper Power Station still operate and provide work.

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Visitor Information

There is no visitor information in the village. Information is available from the Lithgow Visitor Information Centre, 1137 Great Western Highway, Lithgow, tel: (02) 6350 3230 or 1300 760 276.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful website at http://tourism.lithgow.com/capertee.

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  • I lived in Cullen Bullen just before WW2, starting school as a five year old by 1942. My Dad was a Deputy in the Invincible Colliery and we lived in a small cottage on the Mudgee Road.
    The mine used some electrically operated machinery underground although coal was mined by contract miners, haulage of coal from the mine to the mine-owned rail siding was by a double track 24 inch gauge endless ropeway, steam driven. Horses were used underground to move the coal skips from the coal face to the ropeway. Miners were paid on the tonnage of coal they produced, skips being tagged with a leather tag having the miners number. The skips were weighed over a weighbridge just outside the mine tunnel entrance and the weights were verified by a Miners Union rep. Electricity was supplied to the mine and the town by a small steam turbine plant of about 500 kilowatt capacity. Ventilation of the mine was still by a furnace in the mine beneath a vertical shaft leading to the open air above. The shaft was about 400 or so metres up the hill from the mine entrance but off to the left 30 or so yards. I saw this furnace once as a child when my Dad went to stoke the fire. My uncle and a cousin were with me. In about 1953 this system had been replaced by an electric fan. The lads working the mine would not believe me about the furnace, but the surveyor with whom I then worked in 1953 took me in to see it. This was a common system of ventilation in the coal fields around Lithgow as the mines did not usually have a gas hazard.
    We moved from Cullen Bullen to the coast in about 1942 because of health problems. My Dad and I returned in 1953 and both worked at the Invincible mine for a couple of years.

    Bill Williams