Hill End, New South Wales
Hill End 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. At the 2006 census, Hill End had a population of 166 people. The photographer Beaufoy Merlin recorded daily life in the town at its peak; his photographs can be found in the town museum/visitor information centre. The glass plate negatives are held in the State Library of New South Wales.
Hill End artists colony
In the late 1940s Hill End was discovered by artists Russell Drysdale—who painted possibly his best-known work, The cricketers here—and Donald Friend, and quickly became an artists' colony. Other artists who worked there included Jean Bellette. Today, the Hill End artist-in-residence program aims to ensure the continuity of this connection.
Hill End today
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 same fossicking areas that yielded the gold which brought on the gold rush. 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.
The Royal Hotel and the local Bed and Breakfasts offer accommodation, and there is a range of camping options within the town limits.
The Bridle Track runs from Duramana (North of Bathurst) directly to the town centre of Hill End. Generally the track can be classified as an easy 4WD 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.
The Bridle Track is currently closed due to a rock slide at Monaghans Bluff.
- From Sofala, New South Wales which is ~ 38 km along sealed road.
- From Mudgee which is around 75 km and the route passes through Hargraves, which is now also sealed.
- From Bathurst, New South Wales via Turondale is around 75 km and fully sealed as of March 2010.
- The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) provides several camping sites
- The NPWS can be contacted on (02) 6337 8206 for more information.
- Sofala, New South Wales
- Capertee, New South Wales
- Bathurst, New South Wales
- Australian gold rushes
- Gold mining
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Hill End (State Suburb)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 7 October 2009.
- Gray, Anne (purchased 1976). "Jean Bellette – Chorus without Iphigenia". Collection search. National Gallery of Australia. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service[dead link]
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hill End, New South Wales.|
- Hill End: Artists In Residence Program
- SMH Tourist Guide
- More pictures on the Hill End page of the Bathurst website