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Davis is an old shale mining town located 70 kilometres
north of Lithgow in the Capertee Valley, Glen Davis constituted
the only attempt to commercially produce petrol from shale
oil in Australia.
the Glen Davis park there is an amenities block and a
number of B.B.Q's. Camping is
allowed. There are no petrol or general store facilities.
Lithgow take the Mudgee Road across the overhead pass,
driving past the Wallerawang Power Station. Following
the Mudgee Road you pass several coal mines until you
reach Capertee. Turn right onto the gravel road and follow
the road through beautiful scenery and spectacular escarpments.
shale was first discovered in the northern side of
Capertee Valley around 1865 by local grazier Mr. B.R.
McLean. Glen Davis still has the largest seam of high
grade oil shale in the world. The first shale oil lease
was granted in 1891 to MPI Mining Development which
abandoned the scheme. This site was the centre point
for the future development.
wartime petrol shortage caused the Government to organise
a revival of oil shale mining and treatment in 1940.
G, F, Davis of Davis Gelantine undertook the proposed
development and a new company was formed (National Oil
Pty. Ltd.). Much of the equipment from the abandoned
oil shale works was transferred to Glen Davis.
pipeline was built so that products could be pumped to
storage tanks at Newnes Junction. The pipeline followed
the route of the Newnes railway
line which was removed in the 1940's. In 1940 the first
oil was produced and in 1941 some 4,273,315 gallons were
produced. 170 miners were employed.
housing conditions were deplorable. Lack of schooling
facilities, unreliable food supplies and endemic diseases
accentuated the already poor living conditions. By 1947
the situation had improved. A hotel, barracks, staff
and permanent housing had been built. The town population
of 1,600 had access to a school, post office, hall, cinema,
bank, chemist, butcher and general stores.
1950 production levels were dropping and operating costs
were continuing to rise. The years of industrial trouble,
difficulties with retorts, Labour, material shortages
and the importing of middle east crude-oil finally led
to the closure of the works in 1952. The plant was sold