Now here is one very interesting town, if not the only one of its kind in Australia: an old Gold Rush centre, “a living village featuring intact goldrush streetscapes and buildings dating back to the 1860s. Preserved much as it was in its heyday, it’s the perfect place to relive the early goldmining days of 19th century New South Wales. Hill End’s landscape also played a significant role in Australian art, inspiring artists such as Russell Drysdale, John Olsen, Donald Friend and Brett Whitely.” As the National Parks site says!
I passed through several times in the late 60s and early 70s, always stopping for a while. It is still quite a hairy drive in, and the pub is most inviting. In 1975 I was at Bathurst doing a photography course with John Williams and Ingeborg Tyssen*. Hill End/Sofala was one of our targets. I asked an old guy in the pub, after buying him a beer, if I could photograph him. “Guess so,” he said. “Snowdon did last week…” (John Williams told me I was a good second-rate photographer, which I found rather pleasing, coming from him.)
In the Year of Halley’s Comet I was there with a History Excursion from SBHS led by local historian Brian Hodge, camping under the stars — though the comet was a major let-down. Brian was a great person to be with though; what he doesn’t know about Hill End is not worth knowing. We were into everything, going down mine shafts, panning for gold. And of course for us teachers at times — the pub.
* Sad to note that Ingeborg Tyssen passed away in 2002, not yet 60 years of age.