ISN'T it just the way of the world? Spend half a lifetime working on something good for the community and beyond and have someone muscle in to take the credit.
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And that's the way it is at one of the nation's most important relics of the convict era, Hartley Historic Site.
For decades the village has been managed and passionately cared for by the somewhat long winded National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Hartley Historic Site Advisory Committee and in that time it has developed from a largely forgotten relic of an 18th century village that was vital in the spread of colonial NSW in the years following the crossing the Blue Mountains.
An eclectic collection of inns, churches, commercial buildings and the grand centrepiece, the Hartley Court House where rough justice handed out to any road gang convict careless enough to rattle his chains - for want of a better term.
Until well into the mid to late 1900s what passed for the Great Western Highway went though the village but with the highway diversion came time for change. And for preservation.
At that time, pre amalgamation, Hartley was part of the old Blaxland Shire Council and the Council worked in partnership with long term Hartley resident Bob Morris to acquire all the buildings in a program dating to 1967.
When the National Parks and Wildlife Service was gazetted under the NPWS Act in 1972 the village became part of the new body and five years later the first advisory committee was appointed, working tirelessly over the intervening years to restore the oldest buildings west of the Mountains and to bring them back to life for the enjoyment of the public.
Together with the work of the NPWS staff this became possible though funding over the years in excess of $20 million.
Once again this jewel in the State's heritage inventory was a living village.
This is when the former NSW Government stepped in with Environment Minister James Griffin disbanded the organisation that had achieved so much should be terminated and the Hartley site incorporated into the Blue Mountains Regional Advisory Committee.
And that was that. No more popular Back to Hartley Celebrations. No more fund raising for local charity (more than $40,000 had been gifted in recent years).
What funds were left have been shared between Lithgow Optimists and the Highland Band.
Bob Morris was chairman for most of the 45 years of effort and earned an OAM for his services. So too did long serving secretary Margaret Combs, fist among equals in a catalogue of dedicated volunteers over the years.
The honour list over the almost half a century included Angelo Butta, Janet Lesslie, May Luchetti, Iris Paridaens, Tom Fairway, Andy Ryan, Annette Poston-Gilbey, Kristina Campbell, Malcolm McDonald, Maclaren North, Matthew Chambers and Cheryl Kenny.
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