Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sofala, NSW Australia

Main Road in Sofala

Two days prior to St Valentine’s Day in 1851, a Charlie Brown by the name of Edward Hargraves discovered gold in Summerhill Creek!  One can just imagine the excitement Eddie must have felt.

Personally, I would have kept my mouth shut about this discovery until I had a fair stash of the gold, but it seems that Eddie was one prone to boasting and pretty soon there was a gold rush and the village of Sofala was born.

Sofala is located along the Turon River and is approximately 260 Kms west of Sydney and 46 kms from Bathurst.   It is one of the oldest surviving gold rush towns and is well worth a visit.  Driving up from Sydney one can hardly imagine what it must have entailed to get started up in this very remote place in the 1800’s.

I imagine in those days the prospectors would have been on camel back or horseback.  Once the word was out about there being a gold find, I’m sure there would have been quite the camel jam (as opposed to traffic jam!)

Royal Hotel
Soon Sofala grew to a town of about 10 000 residents and the township extended along the banks of the Turon River, some 16 kilometers long.  This is not evident when one visits the area today, however; there are only a few remaining houses, a school and a church left.  Today the town has two remaining main streets, which are lined with grand old wooden buildings, a general store, the Royal Hotel, the old Sofala Gaol and the Turon Technology Museum.

Of course every newly established town started off with a Royal Hotel, Sofala is no different.  Aside from the Royal Hotel, which was built in 1851, there were quite a few others but the Royal Hotel is the only hotel that is still standing today.

In 1854 only a few hundred prospectors remained and by 1948 gold mining finally ceased.

Today the town still stands and is a beautiful reminder of bygone days.  When walking up and down the two main streets, one is mentally transported back in time to what it must have been like then.  If the streets could talk one would probably be mesmerized by the goings on.

In 2006, census results revealed that there were 208 remaining residents in the quaint little town.

Sofala is also well known for the movie:  “The Cars that Ate Paris”, a Peter Weir film shot in 1974 and in 1994, the movie “Sirens” by John Duigan had a few village scenes shot here.

Sofala’s attractions include, prospecting, hiking and camping along the Turon River and cycling.  It is also a popular spot for motorcyclists to stop off for a drink and a great place for an historic tour and walk.

If you wish to be transported into bygone days, wish to spend a day out simply relaxing in nature and some very beautiful surrounds, then you can't go past Sofala in NSW.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

~  Vanessa

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