10 minute read
Long before the gold rush of the 1800s, the area surrounding Hill End was used by the Wiradjuri people as a reliable source of water and an ideal campsite. Then, the former domain of pastoralists and squatters gave way to gold seekers in 1851, when the settlement of Bald Hill was established. At the height of the gold rush era there was a population of about 8,000 living in Hill End.
In the years after the Second World War, the region attracted the attention of some of the country’s leading contemporary artists. The distinctive blend of the striking landscape, gold-mining history, and vernacular architecture continue to inspire the works of many notable Australian visual artists. Several of these collections are on exhibition year-round at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery.
Today the town has just over 100 residents. The wonderfully preserved historic buildings are almost as they were at the height of the gold rush in the 1870s, providing a fascinating opportunity to explore what it was like to live and work in a major commercial centre of the 1800s.
Just over an hours’ drive from Bathurst, Hill End makes a fantastic day trip, with plenty to explore for all ages. We recommend wearing comfy walking shoes and a hat, as you will be outside most of the day. Here are our top tips to make it a day to remember.
9 am – Start at Bathurst Visitor Information Centre
The friendly staff at Bathurst Visitor Information Centre have brochures, maps, and plenty of local knowledge about Hill End.
Call into Harvest Cafe & Store for a coffee for the drive ahead.
Head east on the Great Western Highway, then turn left onto Gilmour Street, and drive for 45 km to Sofala. Turn left onto Hill End Road.
Travel 35 km along the fully sealed Hill End Road through picturesque, rocky, winding terrain.
10:15 am – Visit History Hill Museum
Visit History Hill Museum and experience what life was really like during Australia’s gold rush period. Browse the largest private collection of gold rush artefacts in Australia and for the adventurous, see the 175m of fully restored underground mine.
History Hill is located at 3458 Hill End Road, you will see the driveway and sign as you’re driving toward the village.
12 pm – Lunch in Hill End
The Hill End General Store and Cafe is a great place for lunch and a milkshake, or a locally roasted coffee and slice of home made cake. Located right in the centre of the village at 3 Beyers Avenue. Open from 8 am until 3 pm daily.
Hill End Estate Cafe serves up yummy cafe fare made with love. The home made pies are legendary, or enjoy a Devonshire Tea in the garden. Open weekends only from 10 am until 5 pm at 3664 Hill End Road.
The Royal Hotel is the only surviving pub of 28 from Hill End’s heyday. This heritage building located in the centre of Hill End is full of history, charm and character. Make sure you call into 4 Beyers Avenue for a cool drink or some classic pub food. Open daily from 12 pm 7 days.
Or pack your own picnic lunch and enjoy a barbeque in the Historic Village. Free barbeque facilities are available in the Bill Lyle Reserve on Beyers Avenue, with picnic tables and a kids playground.
1 pm – Take a gold panning tour
Local Hill End resident and expert gold panner, Jhob Drinkwater runs gold panning tours in the designated fossicking area along Tambaroora Creek. $10 cash will get you a one hour tour with all equipment and demonstrations provided. Call Jhob on 0421 729 955 to make a booking.
You can purchase your own gold panning equipment quite inexpensively at any good camping supplies store. Fossicking in Hill End is only permitted at Tambaroora Creek fossicking area, which is well signposted along Hill End Road, 10 minutes’ drive north of the Hill End Historic Village.
Fossicking on all NSW Crown Land now requires a permit, click here for full details.
2:30 pm – See Golden Gully
On the way back into the village, call in for a short stroll along the Golden Gully Walking tack. Erosion on the red soil has uncovered a warren of underground mines that once dotted the creek line.
The mostly flat walk takes around 15 to 30 minutes and be sure to look out for The Arch.
3 pm – Explore the Historic Village
A great starting point is the Hill End Heritage Centre, an interactive museum housed in the former RFS shed and located in the main street of the village. It houses a collection of photographs, artefacts, the remains of a miner’s cottage and an interactive display. It’s free to enter and open daily from 8 am until 4 pm.
Take in the peace and quiet. Strolling around the village you will see the quaint historic buildings and residencies that have inspired generations of Australian artists.
4:00 pm – Watch the Sunset at Merlin’s Lookout
Say farewell and top off your day trip to Hill End with stunning views from Merlin’s Lookout. No walking required after an action-packed day, a short drive along Warrys road will bring you to this stunning spot.
Planning on Staying the Night?
With so much to explore in Hill End, it’s definitely worth staying at least a night or two so you can relax and soak up the experience. And there’s plenty of accommodation options you can choose, from camping, to heritage homes and buildings, to trendy guesthouses.