Monday, November 03, 2014

Australia: Discover a hidden gem at St Albans in the MacDonald Valley on Sydney’s doorstep - Full Article


Abandoned. Overgrown. A pile of rubble with only a warning sign about its dangers for company.

The foundation stone had been laid in 1839 but the building was used for only a few years as its intended purpose — a Catholic church.

Two monks later moved in — but they were gone within five years. And then a bushfire destroyed its shingle roof.

It soon became the forgotten building in the Forgotten Valley.

The area’s correct name is the Macdonald Valley and it’s barely 90 minutes — but a world away — from suburban Sydney.

It traces its settlement history back to the First Fleet but when quicker road-rail access from Sydney to Newcastle was built, the valley became a backwater — hence its Forgotten Valley moniker.

The forgotten building, St Joseph’s Church, stood as a silent sentinel on a hill overlooking the valley for more than 160 years but now, like several other buildings in the valley, it has been restored and rebuilt to offer accommodation to the increasing number of people seeking a weekend getaway from the city.

Today the valley is also a delightful place for a day trip from Sydney — lush paddocks nestle up to the wide expanses of the Macdonald River between historic bridges; old buildings — many still in ruins — dot the landscape and there’s even roadside art, including a farm with fake animals around a waterhole...

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