Hartley Vale today is a tranquil rural area, nestled against the bush covered ridges of the western Blue Mountains Australia
(The Blue Mountains NSW Australia).
From 1813 to 1824, William Lawson was engaged in the construction of a by-pass road, to avoid the steep gradients associated with Cox's road down Mt York (on the western escarpment near Mt Victoria). This road followed a gully called Long Alley, now known as Lawson's Long Alley. Lawson reported, to the Governor, finding a three foot seam of 'coal'.
The 'coal' was, in fact, kerosene shale.
Mining commenced in the 1860's, with the ore being carried by horse and cart to the railway, thence by rail to Sydney for refining.
Following the extension of the railway to Bowenfels (near Lithgow), a narrow gauge line was constructed from the main line into the valley, and the valley's operations extended.
The railway route from the Causeway to near the top of the incline exists today as a track, suitable for walkers and mountain bike riders.
Remains of the incline can still be found.
It is one of the most Historical and Significant sites in Australia.
The Comet Inn was licensed to Thomas Thompson.
It was named after the brand name of the kerosene which was produced from the shale in this area.
The village was growing and in 1880 Jonathon Blinkensopp became the Comet's licensee and remained so until the shale mines closed.
There were twelve pubs in the space of about a quarter of a mile of the road into Hartley. There were also dwellings for the miners and their families, a post office, the Company School, a Temperance Hall (much needed after the drinking marathons on payday!) an Oddfellows Hall and Mr. Skelly's butchery and bakery establishment.
Balmain's Store was said to be a miniature Anthony Horderns, supplying anything you needed.
By the 1880's there were at least three bootmakers and a saddler named Mr. Madden.
By 1913 the mining operations ceased.
The mining families moved away.
In 1910 The Comet was advertised as the ideal retreat for rest and recreation.
Guests would be met at the train by appointment and hunting and fishing were described as sports available.
"A fine table, with fresh vegetables, milk and eggs from the farm."
It was a Guest House with charm.
"The House for a Happy Holiday"
T.F. Pettitt, proprietor (late of Hurstville).
Today - The Comet has retained its name and has been converted into a lovely Guest House.
The verandah was added some years ago but it retains the character of an old colonial 'Pub'.
Comet Inn History extracts have been taken from Juliette Palmer Frederick's book -