Ardglen Railway Tunnel | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Ardglen Railway Tunnel

Item details

Name of item: Ardglen Railway Tunnel
Other name/s: Doughboy Hollow
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Tunnel
Primary address: 362.330km, Northern Railway Line, Ardglen, NSW 2338
Parish: Temi
County: Buckland
Local govt. area: Upper Hunter


The listing boundary is the tunnel itself and the two portals with surrounding cuttings, track formation and retaining walls for a distance of 10 metres along the track alignment beyond the edge of the cutting for each portal and the full height of the cutting above.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
362.330km, Northern Railway LineArdglenUpper HunterTemiBucklandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Australian Rail Track CorporationState Government 

Statement of significance:

Ardglen tunnel is of high signficance as the oldest single line tunnel in use in New South Wales and as one of the very few remaining single line tunnels remaining in use. It is also an important landscape element, being at the head of a ridge which is approached by steep grades in both directions.
Date significance updated: 12 Jan 10
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Physical description: The place comprises a 488 metre single track, brick-lined tunnel which is located between Pangela (railway location north of Murrurundi) and Ardglen. It is the oldest single line tunnel in operation in NSW.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Currently in use and maintained as part of the operational railway infrastructure.
Date condition updated:12 Jan 10
Modifications and dates: Nil known.
Further information: Tunnel facilitates the passage of trains over the uppermost section of the Liverpool Range on the Northern Line between Murrurundi and Ardglen.
Current use: Forms part of the infrastructure of the Northern Railway Line, and facilitates t
Former use: The tunnel has had continuous use since 1877.


Historical notes: By May 1869 the northern line had reached Muswellbrook, linking Sydney to the Upper Hunter Valley, with the Singleton to Muswellbrook section of the line opened on 19 May 1869. The Muswellbrook to Aberdeen section was opened in October 1870 and by April 1871 the railway had reached Scone. The next section (to Murrurundi) was difficult to build, with steep grades and heavy earthworks required, but by 5 April 1872 the line had opened to Murrurundi, completing the first stage of the development of the northern line between Sydney and Murrurundi (Cottee, 2004; SRA, 1993).

Due to budget constraints, the next stage included sharper curves, steeper gradients and a shorter tunnel through the Liverpool Ranges than originally intended. In 1872 the NSW Legislative Assembly decided that future railway extensions were to be built using standard-gauge tracks, and by 1873 the extension of the northern line beyond Murrurundi was permanently staked and designed for a standard-gauge track with sharper curves and steeper grades than originally proposed, and with narrower cuttings (Cottee, 2004).

Tenders for the next stage of the northern line were called in January 1874 and in March 1874 the winning tender was accepted for construction of the line as far as Tamworth. Worked commenced in 1874 but was slow, with the original completion date of March 1876 not met. While the line was not even close to completion, by August 1876 the first locomotive went through what is now known as the Ardglen Tunnel. By December 1876 the 488-metre long tunnel was officially completed (some records show it as completed on 13 August 1877) but it wasn’t until October 1878 that the northern line reached Tamworth and January 1888 when the line reached the Queensland border at Wallangarra (Cottee, 2004; SRA, 1993).

The Ardglen tunnel remains in use as an essential part of the railway infrastructure on the Northern Line.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Ardglen tunnel (c1877) is the oldest single track railway tunnel still in use in NSW.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The tunnel is sited below the lowest ridge of the Liverpool Range.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Rail passengers travelling between Sydney/Newcastle and the Northern Tablelands and North West of NSW have been travelling through this tunnel for over 120 years.
SHR Criteria f)
The Ardglen tunnel is rare as a single track tunnel dating from the 1870s and still in use as an operational tunnel.
Integrity/Intactness: The tunnel portals and construction appear to be original with limited modifications or changes to integrity.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

On-going maintenance as part of the infrastructure of the Northern Railway Line


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register  02 Apr 99   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA220State Rail Authority  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenState Rail Authority of NSW Archives1993How and why of station names

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4280220

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