Sunday History Photo / NSW

Submitted: Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 07:30
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Hill End was among the greatest of Australian goldfields and in its heyday more than 200 companies worked fabulously rich reefs. At the time of the gold discovery in 1851 Hill End was known as 'Bald Hill' and named 'Hill End' in 1862.
In 1872 what was, at the time, the world's largest specimen of reef gold - the 'Holtermann's Nugget', weighing 285 kg and measured 150 cm by 66 cm with an average thickness of 10 cm.





After this the town grew to over 8000 people, making it one of NSW's largest inland towns with a kilometer plus of shops, five banks, two newspapers, a brewery, 27 hotels - all doing well - now the Royal Hotel (1872) is the only one remaining.
There was a mile of shops, The air was filled with the clatter of Stamper Batteries, People slept on Pub verandahs and Bar room floors as the town’s accommodation facilities were strained to keep up with the influx of miners, merchants, and adventurers.
Clarke St and Tambaroora Rd were the focus for all the activity, Fortunately a Photographer named Beaufoy Merlin recorded the streets with great detail during the boom days of 1872.
The Northern end of Clarke St was the place be, Land sold for around Ten Pounds per footand weekly rentals went as high a Shilling a foot, At that rate Smith’s Cheapjack Tobacco and Fancy Goods store would have been up for 8 Shillings a week , the shop was the smallest store in town .





Every Sunday the Bells of Hill End Churches would ring out calling the faithful to Worship, it’s a wonder anyone heard them above the din made by the Stamper batteries operating around the town.
Bt 1873 the town boasted four splendid churches as a result of the generosity of successful miners and the energetic efforts of local fund raising committees.




Wild sprees and decadent binges were out as far as Hill End was concerned, Everyone had to conform to the community’s strict Victorian attitudes and standards.
Anyone indulging in drunk and disorderly behaviour was liable to be arrested whilst confidence men, crooks and prostitutes rarely got time to unpack their baggage before the police moved them on their way.

Today Hill End is an important historic site being a well-preserved goldmining ghost town. Most local buildings are managed by the National Parks & Wildlife Service as a ‘Historic Site’ of national significance.

275km from Sydney and 870m above sea-level you can travel to Hill End via Bathurst. From Bathurst either travel through Sofala, Turondale or follow the scenic route which follows the Macquarie and Turon Rivers called The Bridle Track.
Hill End is classified as a Historical site by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), however it is still home to a handful of residents operating the local pub, general store, cake store and antique store. The National Parks and Wildlife Service runs a museum just off the main road which contains many original photos and items of equipment from the busy days of the gold rush.

NPWS has installed signs around the town to give visitors an idea of what was once in place on the now empty lots of land. Currently only a handful of buildings remain in their original form. However most of those buildings still serve the purpose they did back during the gold rush. Access to the town's lookouts is via gravel roads. A walking track in the town leads to a mine and other ruins.
Hill End remains as an excellent 4WD destination. The most exciting of these is the Bridle Track which runs from Duramana (North of Bathurst) directly to the town centre of Hill End. Generally the track can be classified as an easy track, however extreme care must be taken as the road surface has been known to change during the different seasons and after heavy rain during which it can become challenging for the unwary.



The Bridle Track begins as a narrow tar-covered road, however it later changes to dirt. Much of the last 20 km is single-lane, and will not allow any overtaking which makes things awkward to come across on-coming traffic. It is also strongly suggested not to attempt to travel along the track after nightfall or after heavy rain, as the track does skirt around some very large drops. Ideally a vehicle should be fitted with Low Range to complete this track.

Note: I was blown away by the amount of history preserved in this town, and what really topped off the Sunday morning visit was a group of 4 aged locals out front of the hotel armed with 2 guitars and beers singing Slim Dusty songs, I might add the old fella was damn good too.
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Reply By: member-PradoMad - Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 08:22

Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 08:22
great article; was up there a few weeks ago. Love that place with all its history.
Can't believe though that the road Sofala - Hill End is now being sealed.

I wonder if they ever open the Bridle Track again?
JS.
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Follow Up By: Member - Keith P (NSW) - Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 10:20

Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 10:20
There is a bypass in place now....altho I havent been on it yet. I do know approximately where it goes tho....and from memory the last time I was there....that the river crossing is very tricky and if you happened to stray off line....well...lets just say that it would be hoped that your fourby can swim!

Cheers Keith
Nothin is ever the same once I own it ...........

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Follow Up By: member-PradoMad - Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 12:36

Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 12:36
Thanks Keith, will check it out.
JS.
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Reply By: Axle - Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 11:06

Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 11:06
Its amazing to think of the way they got in and out of the place with supplies etc,

the tracks weren't actually freeways...lol, Its a real buz to look at all the old building sites,you can almost feel the way it was!

Good stuff Doug

Cheers Axle.
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Reply By: Candace S. - Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 13:42

Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 13:42
I'll take that "nugget"!! Is it still around? I'd imagine it was long ago processed into gold bars or coins.
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Follow Up By: Kazza055 - Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 14:38

Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 14:38
"Fortunately a Photographer named Beaufoy Merlin recorded the streets with great detail during the boom days of 1872."

Beaufoy would take photos of the occupants standing in front of their properties so they could send them home to show families. The glass plates were found and the photos transferred onto a plaque in front of the building all the way along the streets.

This is an amazing place and to walk along the empty streets and see photos from yesteryear and read the detail for each property, the town just seems to come to life.

Well worth a visit and we will return another time when we next visit the east coast.
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Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 15:31

Sunday, Jan 27, 2013 at 15:31
Thanks Doug,
Interesting topic once again.
I have spent a fair bit of time in that area up till about 30 years ago.
It is a very interesting area.

I worked on a couple of properties not far from there at Glen Davis back in the late sixties to early seventies.

As an old timer name Lew Agnew told me down there in Glen Davis one day "You kick someone in the backside around here and they get a nose bleed out at Orange" LOL
The areas are that interconnected

Thanks again, Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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