An impressive history of lake Pillans

LITHGOW’S Lake Pillans is a classic example of ‘recycling’ an old industrial site for community purposes.

And the latest stage in the transformation undertaken by Lithgow Council — with important support from various sources —is certain to add to the ‘lake’s’ appeal for locals and visitors alike.

Lake Pillans, named after Lithgow’s first mayor, was created in 1911 by erecting a weir across Vale Creek to provide cooling water for the Hoskins blast furnace.

THE NEW upgraded walkway and viewing platform at lake Pillans.

THE NEW upgraded walkway and viewing platform at lake Pillans.

It became a popular swimming and even boating venue, its appeal boosted by the hot water returning from the furnaces.

Neglected for decades it began to attract attention in line with the development of the adjacent Blast Furnace Park and paths and other creature comforts were created to establish a wetlands.

But it was no easy course.

When the steelworks relocated to Port Kembla the ‘lake’ was closed and used as a dump for slag and waste material from the smelters, resulting in heavy metal contamination.

Consequently the rehabilitation presented several challenges, with the contaminated areas having to be isolated and covered with a thick coating of clean clay.

According to the program team if the work not been undertaken Lake Pillans would have become covered in sediment and willow trees, resulting in the death of the reed beds and their function as a nutrient filter.

It would have become just another community eyesore.

The costly rehabilitation program involved organisations including the Department of Land and Water Conservation who contributed $188,000, the National Landcare Program $28,000, the Environmental Trust $78,000, $10,000 and Sydney Water $10,000.

Skillshare provided labour to the value of $177,000.

The latest embellishment to add to appeal as a recreation area is a new walkway and viewing platform carried out by Lithgow Council.