Newnes was established in 1906 as part of an industrial development for the mining and processing of oil shale. The industry continued until the 1930’s when the works were transferred to Glen Davis.
Exploring the ruins of the oil shale works is the main attraction at Newnes for present day visitors. The scenic cliffs surrounding Newnes suggest that nature dominates man in this area. Glow worms now occupy an old railway tunnel and a small forest of tree ferns now grow on part of this same railway.
Most of the area surrounding Newnes (including the old oil shale works) has now been incorporated into Wollemi National Park. Activities such as bushwalking, canyoning, camping and rock climbing are popular in the newness area.