Info Blue Mountains Railway Pages
3 Sisters, Blue Mountains, Australia.
Lapstone Zig-Zag, the old tunnel, Glenbrook Gorge 
59min from Sydney, 35min from Parramatta 

Blue Mountains Australia Tourist Information

Lapstone Hill Railway Routes


Lapstone Hill was the first major obstacle to be overcome in the construction of the railway over the Blue Mountains. As in the case of the road, various routes have been adopted over the years.

Lapstone Zig Zag

Engineer John Whitton wanted to tunnel through the hill. A tight budget prevented this, so a zig zag (or switch-back) was constructed. This device necessitates reversing the train up, or down, one of the three legs of the zig zag route. Gradients ranged from a steep 1 in 30 to 1 in 33.

External resources:

The zig zag was bypassed in 1892, when Old Glenbrook Tunnel was opened. The present route, up Glenbrook Gorge, opened in 1912.

Knapsack Viaduct

Knapsack Viaduct, Lapstone, Blue Mountains.

The route adopted involved an impressive sandstone viaduct over Knapsack Gully. The viaduct was the largest in Australia, being 388 feet long and 120 ft high with 5 spans of 55 ft and 2 of 20 ft.

Construction commenced in 1863. The line was opened to Weatherboard (now Wentworth Falls) on July 13, 1867.

A second, more spectacular zig zag was constructed on the western escarpment. Known as the Lithgow Zig Zag, it is now in use as a tourist railway.

Originally built to carry a single railway track, the bridge was later fitted with a new concrete deck, enabling it to carry 2 lanes of road traffic. It formed part of the Great Western Highway until being by-passed in the mid 1990's. Today it is used only by pedestrians, bicycles, emergency vehicles, & the Olympic Torch Relay.

The photos show the viaduct today, & under construction  around 1863.

Photo above © 1997 D. Martin

The line followed what is now the highway, from a point just beyond the sharp right-hand bend (driving up the hill). Glenbrook railway station was in the park roughly opposite the Tourist Information Centre. The line continued along today's highway, swinging off to the right near Graham St, Blaxland.

Bushwalking (Hiking) 

Knapsack Viaduct is signposted from the motorway (Emu Plains exit). From the carpark near the junction of the old highway & historic Mitchell's Pass, a footpath follows the old railway & highway route to the viaduct. From here, a path descends below the stone arches then ascends to Elizabeth Lookout. Alternately, follow the stairs up to the old zig-zag railway formation at Top Points & Lucasville Platform. From here, follow the zig zag's upper road to Knapsack St, or the middle road down to Knapsack Quarry & the highway. On reaching the highway, continue south to Skarratt Park South, & the 
Old Glenbrook Tunnel, or follow the highway's paved footpath back to Knapsack Viaduct.



Lapstone on Wikipedia
Lapstone Station on Wikipedia article


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Copyright 1997-2003, David Martin,  except where other copyright applies.
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Established 1996 - originally "Blue Mountains Plaza".

Greater Western Sydney, NSW, Australia

Updated: Grant Robinson — 28 Feb 2010
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