Curiouser & Curiouser / by Emily Ellis

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Like falling into the pages of a storybook. Or walking around an elaborate film set. Hill End is a tiny town in the Central West that boomed in the late 19th century because GOLD. At its peak in the 1870’s it had a population estimated at 8,000 served by two newspapers, five banks, eight churches and twenty-eight pubs

When the gold was gone the town vanished dramatically. By 1945 the population was 700. There’s less than 100 today.

I came here as a child and later at university with my friend. We bought the kids here once before when Torsten was a babe in arms. I could never get sick of visiting. It makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck and all my senses tingle. The wonky timber fences covered in lichen and the incredible shacks still standing. I feel like my eyes dart from one thing to the next, my brain struggling to rest on something as it’s all just too curious.

The town was captured in photographs during the boom by Henry Beaufoy Merlin and once you’ve seen the people in his black and white photographs, I swear you can sense them going about their life as you move through the village. Definitely worth googling.

We took Longpoint Rd from Mullion creek (Just north of Orange) A well maintained 4wd track, there is a river to cross but the current drought made it very cross-able. Evie said it was “better than a roller-coaster”. It’s rugged and rolling hills made a breathtaking drive, even in the dry.

If you’re in the central west and (like us) not planning anything grand for the school holidays, it’s worth a day trip. And if you quite like the feeling of falling down a rabbit hole, I double recommend it.