NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NWPS) plan to construct a pathway through the Glowworm Tunnel, located on the Newnes Plateau in Wollemi National Park. MTS Heritage was engaged by the NPWS to review various pathway design options to ensure that the chosen design enhanced safety and visitor experience while also conserving the tunnel’s heritage values and glow-worm population. Archaeological survey of the tunnel identified 11 heritage elements, including hand-cut side drains, hand-cut safety refuges, niches, prop holes and former hooks for lighting on the tunnel roof.

Assessment of the tunnel’s heritage significance confirmed its importance as a contributory element of the Wolgan Railway Complex. Following further consideration of the pathway design options, the brick-edge pathway was chosen as the most sympathetic design. The new pathway requires minimal excavation and would be positioned to expose the inner hand cut drain, so that its function was partially restored. Blond bricks bonded with matching mortar would ensure that the pathway was visually recessive. The chosen design would encourage more visitors to walk the length of the tunnel safely and provides an opportunity to highlight its heritage elements and communicate its history to visitors. 

Responsibilities included: Archaeological survey and the provision of advice to NPWS throughout design development. Preparation of a Statement of Heritage Impact report that assessed the impact of the works on the State heritage values of the Wolgan Valley Railway, ‘Blue Mountains Walking Tracks’ and the National and World heritage values of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.