Monday, 3 December 2012


Joadja is a ghost town in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, in Wingecarribee Shire.

It was a thriving mining town between 1870–1911. It was home for approximately 1,100 people, many of whom were skilled immigrants from Scotland, and was connected to the nearby town of Mittagong by a narrow gauge railway that terminated adjacent to the main Southern Railway line in Mittagong. The town existed to mine oil shale from which kerosene was extracted by the Australian Kerosene Oil and Mineral Co. The process was superseded by conventional kerosene production from oil and the oil shale mining became uneconomical. By 1911, the town had become deserted as inhabitants relocated in search of work. The property was auctioned off that year to a private buyer. The fruit orchard, which included 6,700 trees continued to operate until 1924, exporting fruit for local and interstate consumption.

Situated in a deep valley, the town had limited access by road, instead exporting shale via a steep railway out of the valley. The passage into Joadja has improved greatly since then, with the gravel access road maintained annually. The township is still recognisable, despite the state of its ruins. The sandstone school, the mine, houses, refinery and even the cemetery remain as a testament to the community that lived in the valley more than a century ago.

Local lore is that the old town is haunted by at least two ghosts.

The property has recently been resold, with the new owners setting up a boutique whisky distillery as well as continuing conservation work of the township. Large parts of the valley have now been sub-divided and sold for hobby farms. The ruins of the retorts, refinery and houses are being stabilised to ensure future generations the opportunity to view the site and appreciate its part in Australia's national heritage.


Jo said...

Great post.
I visited Joadja as a kid and still remember it vividly, and I have always longed to return.

Dina said...

This is so interesting. I've never seen a ghost town.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Wow I didn't know of this place. I have been to the shale oil ruins in Newnes and hope to visit the ones at Glen Davis didn't know there were more ruins to see.

Dragonstar said...

I'm glad to read that the town will be preserved. It was obviously a fine sight at one time.

Julie said...

I have followed Joan's investigations into shale oil, and likewise, had no idea this place existed. I have traced back through each of your 10 posts to learn all about the ruins and what it is like now.

How did you get there? Did you go on a history society tour of some sort?

Ann said...

Julie, it was a Meet Up organised by Natural Light Portraiture except most of us ended up just photographing the ruins. Was more of a day out rather than a portraiture meet up. Stinking hot day.