Hill End, New South Wales

Hill End, New South Wales

Hill End is a former gold mining town in New South Wales, Australia, in Bathurst Regional Council. It owes its existence to the New South Wales gold rush of the 1850s, and at its peak in the early 1870s it had a population estimated at 8,000 served by two newspapers, five banks, eight churches, and twenty-eight pubs. Its decline when the gold gave out was dramatic: by 1945 the population was 700, and today there are less than 100 full-time residents.

The wealthy Scott Pearson had the foresight to employ Beaufoy Merlin to record daily life in the town at its peak; his photographs can be found in the town museum/visitor information centre.

In the late 1940s it was discovered by artists Russell Drysdale and Donald Friend, and quickly became an artists' colony — the Hill End artist-in-residence program aims to ensure the continuity of this connection. Today, Hill End is a popular tourist destination.

Modern Day Hill End

Modern 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.

The most popular tourist activity in Hill End is gold panning, with some of the older members of the community running gold panning tours in the very same fossicking areas that yielded the gold which brought on the gold rush. Note that metal detectors or gold panning are not allowed within the historic site, however there is a fossicking area just past the cemetery, off the Mudgee Road. Fossicking equipment and tours can be hired from Hill End township.

Due to the extensive mining in the area, it is advisable to stay on marked walking tracks or roads as mine shafts and unstable ground may be found.

Visiting Hill End

Hill End is no longer the tourist town it used to be, however the Royal Hotel and the local Bed and Breakfasts offer nice and warm accommodation at very reasonable prices. There is also a wide array of camping options with in the town limits.

Whilst the town does host tourists, it is not a busy tourist town, and as such the local business are not fully prepared for catering to the demands that an influx of visitors can bring. For one with special dietary requirements, it might be better to prepare to be self sufficient for the stay, or talk to the hosts before arrival. Communications in Hill End are limited to CDMA mobile phones and the local payphone.

Bridle Track

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.

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.

Annual CSU Theatre/Media induction

Each year the Theatre/Media course at Charles Sturt University in nearby Bathurst run an innovative induction process in which first-year students participate in a walk along the Bridle Track, concluding at The Royal Hotel in Hill End. The only publicly known part of the event is that each first year student must walk the 30 km track over 2 days (during the heat of summer), during which time they must simultaneously entertain and teach each other a range of valuable lessons concerned with the storytelling foundations of theatre. A certain amount of evidence points to the connection between this induction process and the extraordinarily tight-knit loyalty that current students - and alumni of the Theatre/Media course at CSU - have toward one another. This induction process will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2008.Some urban legends have started as a result of this event, the most common being that the students will drink goat's blood and partake in mass orgies. By others accounts, the Theatre/Media students come back changed in a negative way, often acting strangely in the weeks following.


* From Sofala, New South Wales which is ~ 38 km along unsealed road.
* From Mudgee, New South Wales which is around 75 km and the route passes through Hargraves.


* The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) provides several camping sites and information can be found at [http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/parks.nsf/CampingContent/N0204?OpenDocument&ParkKey=N0204&Type=K National Parks Service]

* The NPWS can be contacted on (02) 6337 8206 for more information.

ee also

*Sofala, New South Wales
*Capertee, New South Wales
*Bathurst, New South Wales
*Australian gold rushes
*Gold mining

External links

* [http://www.hillendart.com/ Hill End: Artists In Residence Program]
* [http://www.smh.com.au/news/New-South-Wales/Hill-End/2005/02/17/1108500193765.html SMH Tourist Guide]

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