Beaufoy Merlin Lookout is located in the historic village of Hill End. Hill End is approximately 1 hour from Mudgee, 2 hours from Orange, and 4 hours from Sydney's central business district. Hill End, a legendary historic gold mining village, has since been transformed into a visitor-friendly attraction with heaps of facilities offered by the town's local community to assist travellers in discovering some of the magic which still lingers over Hill End.
Can you tell me a bit about the history surrounding Hill End?
In the early 1870s, rich gold discoveries rapidly turned Hill End from a small rural and mining community into one of the largest inland towns in New South Wales. There were four key things that separates Hill End from the many other goldfield towns that sprang up across Australia in the latter half of the 19th century:
1. The sheer richness of a parcel of earth approximately 50m below the surface was unparalleled, to the extent that investors from Sydney clamoured to pour their money into these mines.
2. Many people who flocked to Hill End in the early 1870s came to stay - they brought their families with them and as such, Hill End rapidly developed into one of the largest towns at the time.
3. A businessman called Beaufoy Merlin photographed the whole town in the 1950s; scene by scene, building by building. These photographs were discovered by luck, allowing rare insight into the urban town that Hill End once was.
4. Once the easy riches were taken from the goldfield, the town gradually reverted back to its former status.Despite the 'boom' having passed, Hill End continued to act as an active community, albeit a somewhat quieter one. With an excess of buildings and little need or money to build new ones, the town landscape gradually opened up as buildings were recycled for other uses.
Beaufoy Merlin Lookout (or as the locals call it, Merlins Lookout) is located on Warrys Road - however, if you set Warrys Road as the destination using your GPS, it is likely that your GPS will take you through narrow, gravel streets that don't actually lead to Warrys Road. Trust me, Eddy and I learned this the hard way! If you're coming from Sydney, I would recommend making a convenient pit stop at the Visitor Information Centre where you can pick up a free map and have a chat with the knowledgeable volunteers on duty about your plans. There are also toilet facilities available here.
The easiest way to get to the lookout is to head towards the town centre where you will see notable points of interests such as the Royal Hall and Royal Hotel - turn right onto Clarke Street when you pass by the Royal Hotel. Continue straight for a short stretch, and you should then see Beyers Cottage - from here, turn right again onto Warry's Road. Keep following the road until you reach a fork; take the left and continue uphill until you reach the lookout. The route is conveniently well sign-posted, to reassure travellers that they are heading in the right direction.
Beaufoy Merlin Lookout was much easier to locate after picking up a free map!
Do I need a 4WD to get up to Beaufoy Merlin Lookout?
Not at all - although the road gradually changes from a paved road to an unsealed one, the road is still well-maintained and suitable for 2WDs. However, the lookout is only accessible with weather permitting - it may be closed off during periods of heavy rainfall.
The road to the lookout is initially a sealed road...
Beaufoy Merlin Lookout offers breathtaking panoramic views overlooking Hawkins Hill and surrounding Turon Valley - it's an excellent vantage point to take in the true scale of mining that took place here. The many thousands of tonnes of rock that have been excavated in the search for gold can be seen clearly from here - the waste rock (mullock tips) along the slopes of Hawkins Hill are an indication of the enormous amount of work that had been done below the surface. Although the views are beautiful at any time of the day, it is especially spectacular at sunrise and sunset when the sky is filled with vibrant colours.
Well worth the short drive up to the lookout - look at that view!
Once you've taken in your fill of the beautiful view, it's time to whip out the photography devices and encapsulate this memory for decades to come. Beaufoy Merlin Lookout conveniently has a fotopol camera mounting system in place for solo travellers like Eddy and I to get a shot together, seeing as we had no one to take one for us - the lookout is pretty quiet, and it's likely that you'll have it all to yourself during your visit. It's also useful for those who want to grab a group photo together but don't have a cameraman waiting in the car!
Are there any nearby attractions to Beaufoy Merlin Lookout?
Heaps! In fact, many tourism sites recommend staying several days in Hill End, to really take advantage of all that they have to offer. Go and explore their underground mine, try your luck at panning for gold, take in the huge selection of historic photos positioned around the town - and it's only then that you'll have begun to scratch the surface. If you're interested in more lookouts similar to Beaufoy Merlin Lookout, there is also nearby Kissing Point Lookout (providing views of Split Rock and the Turon River Valley), in addition to the Bald Hill Lookout (the highest peak in the area).
Thanks for the great views, Beaufoy Merlin Lookout!