Hill End is a former goldmining town established in the goldrush of the 1850s. At its peak in the early 1870s its population reached 8000. It had a mile of shops including five banks, eight churches, 28 pubs, an oyster bar and opium den. The town, then known as Bald Hill, supported two newspapers, When gold gave out, its decline was dramatic and by 1945 just 700 residents remained. Today there are fewer than 100.
Scott Pearson had the foresight to employ Beaufoy Merlin to photographically record the town's daily life and the history remains in the town's museum and visitor information centre.
Hill End is an interesting place to visit and walking tours take in the two things that put it on the map gold and art.
In the late 1940s Hill End was discovered by painters Russell Drysdale and Donald Friend and the town became an artists' colony. The rugged scenery was inspiring and some of the finest Australian landscape paintings of the 20th century were created here.
Sydney artists were curious to see what inspired Friend and Drysdale and painters such as Margaret Olley, David Strachan, Fred Jessup and Jeffrey Smart came to Hill End. Jean Bellette and Paul Haefliger purchased a cottage in the village. They left for Majorca in the 1950s and maintained the cottage for visits.
Jean Bellette bequeathed Haefliger Cottage to the community on condition it remained an artist's retreat and it is now part of an artist-in-residence program. It is open to tourists on special weekends.
Haefliger Cottage is largely unchanged, with works of art, books, Australian colonial furniture and furnishings echoing the painters who lived and worked there since the early 1950s.
Murray's Cottage is also part of the artist-in-residence program. The 19th-century cottage was home to Donald Friend and Donald Murray and has been refurbished by a NSW Ministry for the Arts grant.
It offers simple living and has basic facilities and utensils, a small studio with desk, easel, pin boards and worktable.
A tour of Bald Hill mine gives the chance to see how 19th-century reef mining was undertaken in the 80-metre tunnel. There are stories of miners and old tools are demonstrated.
Craigmoor was built in 1875 for the successful Marshall family. The two-storey weatherboard home is in the rustic Gothic style, popular in the middle 1800s in Australia. The Marshalls made a lot of money and up and left it as it is today. It has the original furniture and fittings, artefacts and even letters and telegrams for visitors to see.
In 1872 Bernard Otto Holtermann found the world's largest gold specimen. The mass weighed about 235kg and contained around 85kg of gold! The find became known as the Beyer and Holtermann specimen. Part of his wealth was used to build a corner store in two sections. One was occupied by Bray's Dispensary, Baptiste's Paris haircutting shop and Wood Bakery, the other included a dressmaker, milliner, barber and palm reader. At the time it was the biggest inland shopping complex in the state.
The premises have undergone major renovations and are beautiful. You will find a bakery, cake shop, gourmet foods, Internet cafe, arcade room for children, giftware shop and second-hand book shop. Definitely worth a visit!
There used to be 28 pubs in town, but now the Royal Hotel is the only one. It was built in 1872 and has been restored to the way it was when miners went there to celebrate or commiserate and wash the dust down. They offer accommodation.
Hosie's B&B offers a warm welcome in what was originally a haberdashery and general store. Four charming queen bedrooms have fireplaces and there is a guest sitting room. Breakfasts are delicious and generous. A balcony overlooks the beautiful garden and Honey the alpaca is always pleased to receive a visit.
280km north-west of Sydney.
Bald Hill Underground Mine Tours are $7.50 for adults and $5.50 for children. They run for an hour on weekends at 1.30pm and at other times by arrangement.
Craigmoor tours cost $8. It is open on long weekends between 9am-4pm or by request.
Royal Hotel accommodation starts at $45 a night.
Hosie's B&B rooms start at $132 double per night.
Prices correct at June 26, 2008.
For further information
Self-guided Walking Tour
Hill End 2850
Ph: (02) 6337 8206
Fax: (02) 6337 8271
Bald Hill Underground Mine
Ph: (02) 6337 8377 or 1800 681 000
Fax: (02) 6337 8357
Ph: (02) 6337 8334
Tambaroora & Short Streets
Hill End 2850
Ph: (02) 6337 8180
Hill End 2850
Ph: (02) 6337 8261
Fax: (02) 6337 8393
Hill End 2850
Ph: (02) 6337 8290
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