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The round tunnel in the walls of Golden Gully is a signature of Chinese miners. They didn't square off their diggings.

Man outside wattle and daub hut with bark roof, Hill End, New South Wales, circa 1872/3 From Holtermann archive of photographers Merlin and Bayliss. Source: National Library of Australia
Warrys Cottage
Northey's Store
Gold mines with whim and shaft houses on Hawkins Hill, Hill End, New South Wales, circa 1872/3. From Holtermann archive of photographers Merlin and Bayliss. Source: National Library of Australia
Archway in Golden Gully
Valentines Mine Shaft
Hawkins Hill as it appears today

Hill End Gold Rush Heritage

Latitude -33.032489, Longitude 149.41

Located in the Central West Region of NSW, nearest large town Mudgee

Source: National Library of Australia

Link to Detailed Map

Hill End is located in a shallow valley on top of a plateau and is surrounded by Eucalypt forests and mountains. The broader district of Hill End includes the historic mining remnants of Tambaroora, Golden Gully, the Cornish Roasting Pits and Valentines Mine. Hill End is located some 870 metres above sea level and is situated on the top of a range of fold mountains that form reef plates along the Silurian and Devonian Troughs of the Lachlan Fold Belt. These reef folds (which can clearly be seen on aerial photographs) contain seams of gold that likely extend for hundreds of kilometres north and south of Hill End.


Long before the gold rush in NSW, the indigenous Wiradjuri people roamed the region around Hill End. A good supply of reliable water was available in this region and it was ideal as a campsite for the nomadic people.

The Gold Rush

The former domain of pastoralists and squatters gave way to gold seekers when the town of Hill End was established in July 1851. At that time, when Hill End was known as Bald Hill, the settlement would have been a tent town. At the height of the gold rush era there was a population of about 8,000 people living in Hill End. The Royal Hotel is the sole remaining hotel from the 52 that used to operate in the town.

Hill End township has been carefully conserved and restored by the National Parks and Wildlife service and there are some wonderful examples of gold rush-era buildings, with corrugated roofs and iron lacework.

Begin your tour of Hill End by inspecting the impressive collection of carriages and work machinery at the Visitor Centre in the old hospital building in High Street. You can book one of the guided mine tours available or explore the town on a self-guided tour starting at the Visitor Centre and museum. You'll find streetscapes and buildings little changed since the village's 1870s goldmining heyday. You can also join a tour of impressive Craigmoor House for an intriguing peek into the past.

History Hill

History Hill is the largest privately owned gold rush collection on display in Australia. It is located about three kilometres from Hill End on the Hill End Road to Sofala. History Hill was established by Malcolm Drinkwater many years ago as a private museum and tour centre. Tours include the privately researched and owned museum, operating stamper batteries, underground mine, village history, gold panning and cemetery. Visitors are invited to self tour the region using the History Hill website.

Bald Hill Tourist Mine

Bald Hill Mine tours depart by request on weekends for a guided tour of the mine (a small fee applies). Bald Hill Mine was an unsuccessful mine; the tour takes in 82 metres of horizontal shaft and the single vertical shaft. Bookings are made through the Royal Hotel or Northey's Store.

Hill End Lookouts

There are three prominent lookouts around the town: Kissing Point Lookout is about 1.5km away and overlooks the Turon and Macquarie River Valleys; Bald Hill Lookout, 3.5km away, is the highest peak in the area and is capped by a remnant of erosion resistant basalt (solidified lava); Beaufoy Merlin Lookout (named after the historic Holtermann Collection photographer) is 3km away and features views of Hawkins Hill - the centre of mining activity in the 19th Century and for all current operations. See Hill End Map for locations.

The Historic Bridle Track

The Turon River, which flows through the valley below Hill End, was the location of alluvial gold discovered between 1830-1845. The villages of Hill End and Tambaroora were accessed in the 19th Century via the Bridle Track and the Hill End to Sofala Road. The Bridle Track winds its way through the Turon Valley and up a very steep trail via Hawkins Hill on a convict-built path. The historic road can be traversed from Hill End down a steep narrow section to the Turon River and to some campsites along the river, however visitors must return via Hill End as the road through to Bathurst is closed due to a major road collapse at Monaghans Bluff.

Hawkins Hill

In 1855, gold bearing quartz was worked on the surface of Hawkins Hill by the Rowley brothers. The existence of a reef extending to some depth was later discovered by Daddy Nichols [Cornish miner] and first worked in 1860. Between 1870 and 1872, Hawkins Hill yielded very rich gold deposits at depths of 40-50 metres. The Beyers and Holtermann nugget, the largest single piece of reef gold ever discovered, was found in the Star of Hope mine on 19th October 1872. It weighed 286kg.

Production declined after 1873 and no new ore bodies of comparable size or richness have been found since. During the boom years of 1871-1874, 12.4 tonnes of gold was won from Hawkins Hill.

Golden Gully Area

Golden Gully is the eroded remnant of an alluvial goldfield of the 1850s and is located 3.5km along the Mudgee Road. On the western side of the road lookout for a small green sign indicating "The Arch". Park here and walk into the gully and head south about 100m to the main arch. Note the rounded tunnels leading from the walls of the gully which are indicative of Chinese mining methods.

Chinese Cemetery

The 1859 Parish Map of Tambaroora shows the location of a Chinese Cemetery separated from other cemeteries due to the prevalent social attitudes of the time. The location of the cemetery is in close proximity to Golden Gully.


Tambaroora was an agricultural township that existed before gold was discovered at Hill End and expanded rapidly with the influx of prospectors in the 1850s. It was located some 5km north of Hill End and although it was home to around 2,500 people, little is left of it today. A fossicking area for tourists is available at Tambaroora where you can try your luck gold panning. However care must be taken when walking away from pathways due to the presence of open mine shafts

Grave stones located in Tambaroora cemetery. Left: Sacred to the memory of JOHN SCOTT manager of the Great Western Undaunted Gold Mining Co who died at Hill End of Typhoid Fever April 5 1874, aged 50 years and Right: Sacred to the memory of THOMAS  Wm ANDERSON who was accidentally killed whilst working in Rawsthornes Cm Cos Mine Hawkins Hill June 5 1874, aged 22 years.

Valentines Mine and Quartz Roasting Pits

Visit the Colonial Gold Mining Company's roasting kilns and battery buildings. The quartz roasting pits (also known as Cornish roasting pits) were established in 1855 and were used to heat the quartz to make it brittle and easier to crush. This took place on a field north of Hill End known as the Dirtholes. Today, the pits ruins plus those of the stamper battery housing and related buildings are all that remain. Travel north from the Hill End Historic Site, approximately 12 kilometres along Hill End Road towards Hargraves. Turn left into Ullamalla Road; there is parking at the site.

Quartz roasting kilns and pits

Present Day Gold Mining

Hill End Gold Limited (HEG) has tenements covering the 100 kilometre Hill End Anticline, which hosts many high grade gold deposits along its axis. The company has found that the coarse gold deposits have simple geometry, are geologically very continuous and can have good grade continuity in structurally controlled quartz veins.

The first gold rush in the 1850s mined out the rich surface gold but then a resurgence of activity occurred in the 1860s and 70s when very rich hard-rock deposits were discovered in the Hawkins Hill, Reward, and Red Hill areas. These were only mined to a shallow depth and HEG commenced work in the area in 1994 to explore beneath these old workings. HEG has since built up its resources through surface and underground drilling and underground mining to 35,000 tonnes at 11g/t from the Reward deposit.

A bulk sampling exercise in 2008-10 identified the geological, mining and processing parameters of the mineralisation as having good continuity over a kilometre scale, and as being easily mined and processed. The gold is quite coarse grained and high grade zones are predictable and continuous and, as an added bonus, simple gravity processing recovers approximately 95% of the gold.

The total Hill End Project mineral resources at November 2010 are estimated to be 336,000 ounces gold including 900,000 tonnes at 8.6g/t in the Hawkins Hill - Reward deposit.

Getting There

It is easy to spend a few days uncovering the layers of history at this remarkable site, home to a thriving community and artists' retreat. Hill End is located around 265 kilometres from Sydney (approximately a four hour journey by car). From Bathurst, the Turondale Road to Hill End is sealed and good quality; the trip is 76km and takes about 1.5 hours. This is a scenic drive and features a 19th Century post-and-beam timber bridge over the Turon River. Mudgee is 1.25 hours drive from Hill End. You can camp at one of two campgrounds in Hill End or stay in self contained heritage accommodation in town but catering is limited, with only a cafe in a B&B and the Royal Hotel.

Hill End Historic Precinct Map

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