The October Long Weekend had us on a road trip to the old gold mining town of Hill End in the Bathurst Region of New South Wales.
A couple of years ago we had attempted a trip to Hill End but due to our daughter getting terribly car sick we didn’t quite make it and ended up at Turon Gates instead. So this time we were determined to get there via a different route!
WHERE DID WE GO?
➡ CLICK ON THE MAP TO OPEN IN GOOGLE MAPS ⬅
Our first stop on the trip was a quick overnight stay at Jerry’s Plains Recreational Reserve on the Golden Highway. This is a free camp with ample room to pull up. We were quite surprised at the amount of campers that were there – quite a popular spot! For more information on this campsite check out our review here.
The next day we were on our way to Sofala with around 280kms to clock up. This trip we stuck to the Golden Highway and turned left just after Cassilis onto Ulan Road towards Mudgee. From Mudgee it is only around 85kms to Sofala. If your travellers don’t get car sick, the Bylong Valley Way will also get you to Sofala. It only added an extra 15 minutes to our trip heading the way we did and it was a much better car trip for our little passenger!!
Our plan was to free camp on the Turon River at Sofala. WikiCamps showed three campsites and we set up camp at Greens Point Campground, which is 6km east of the Sofala township. Greens Point is the larger of the three campgrounds and provided a great base for our weekend of exploring the surrounding area.
You can read more about Greens Point Campground here!
After we set up camp we drove back into Sofala to have a look around.
Sofala is around 240 kms north west of Sydney. Sofala is located on the Turon River and is a small village with loads of history and charm!
Gold was discovered in the region back in the mid 1850’s and the town boasts the title of “the oldest surviving gold town”.
Back in the gold rush era, Sofala spread approximately 16kms across the valley. Sofala was thriving with all manner of businesses to accommodate the thousands of miners that flocked to the region; general/convenience stores, post office, schools, gaol/cells, a hospital, churches.
Today, the few streets are lined with beautiful historic buildings and you can still have a beer at the Sofala Hotel and get a bite to eat at the Sofala Souvenir Shop or Gaol Cafe!
The Old Sofala Footbridge (pic below) was washed off its piers in a record flood back in 1986. A dedicated group of community members restored the bridge and it now stands at the entrance to the town. There is an information board that details the history of the bridge.
Across the road from the footbridge is an old Gold Stamper Battery.
The Old Sofala Gaol provides visitors with an array of memorabilia to look through, a cafe and you can take a peek into the old cells!
The Old Sofala Post Office building is now a private residence.
The Historic Gold Mining Village of Hill End is a short 35km west of Sofala.
Once gold was discovered in the early 1870’s, this small town grew rapidly and was soon one of the largest inland towns in NSW.
A kilometre stretch of shops operated during the boom years and a whopping 27 pubs were open to the public (that would be some pub crawl!!!)
These days there are a few old buildings that still stand and many remnants of the mining time. NPWS have erected signs along the streets which detail what used to stand on the now vacant blocks of land.
A walk around the township is the best way to explore Hill End. You will see the remaining heritage buildings, museum displays and get a real feel for what life was like in the gold mining period.
Hill End is now classified as a Historic Site by NSW National Parks and Wildlife.
Only a handful of locals live in the town and they operate the Royal Hotel, General/Convenience Store (meals, coffee), Northeys Store (camping, fishing supplies) and Great Western Store (Hill End history).
There is a NPWS Museum on the way into town that has photos and gold mining equipment on display.
History Hill is located a few kilometres to the east of Hill End and is the largest privately-owned gold rush collection – you’ll be amazed by how many displays they have! There is also an underground mine section you can walk through too!
Continuing on with our gold mining history, our last stop was Gulgong.
GULGONG is an old gold mining town in the Mudgee Region of NSW and well worth a visit!
Gold was first discovered back in 1870 and there is an abundance of history to discover.
THINGS TO DO WHILE IN TOWN!
- Take a walk around the town to see the beautiful historic and heritage buildings.
- Take the kids gold panning at Gulgong Gold Experience – we highly recommend this!
- Take a wander through the Gulgong Pioneers Museum and see the incredible and HUGE display of Australian memorabilia!
- Visit the Henry Lawson Centre.
FUN FACT! Gulgong was the town on the original $10 note!!
We stayed at the Gulgong Showground – check out the details of this campground here.
➡ This trip cost us $12 in camp fees!!
➡ We travelled approximately 860km
If you are after a road trip to step you back in time, we recommend you explore these regions for a glimpse of what life was like back in the gold rush era!