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Published April 21st 2015
Take a stroll around this historic village
The Central West of New South Wales is steeped in gold rush history. Towns like Bathurst, Ophir & Hill End all have strong links to the gold rushes of the 19th century, as does the small village of Sofala.
Only 44 kilometres from Bathurst, Sofala sits alongside the picturesque Turon River. The village is set amongst a rugged mountain backdrop, and as you drive along the winding country roads you can enjoy the green hills and magnificent valley views.
Sofala began as a gold rush town in the 1850's when gold was discovered on the Turon River. In its heyday there were reported to be 40 licensed hotels, general stores and business premises in the town supporting a population of many thousands of people. Unfortunately the rush did not last long and by 1855 most of the population had moved further afield and on to newer gold discoveries.
Despite this short boom the village of Sofala has survived to this day and there are around 18 buildings still standing from the gold rush era. To further demonstrate how little the village has changed over time you will find the streetscape looks much the same today as when it was depicted by artist Russell Drysdale in 1947 in his artwork titled "Sofala".
We recently did a walking tour of the village. There are literally only 2 -3 streets that make up the majority of the town and the walking tour only takes about an hour. For information about the history of the buildings there is a brochure titled "Sofala Historical Walking Tour" which is available from the Bathurst Visitor Information Centre.
On Denison Street you will find The Royal Hotel which was established in 1862 and is a typical example of an early goldfields hotel. It is still in use today and offers accommodation, meals and a cold drink.
To the left of the hotel is the Oddfellow's Hall, which is now a private residence. Once the home of the Oddfellow's Friendly Society, a group who organised social and sporting events for the townspeople, they played an important role in the social needs of the people in the village.
Also on Denison Street are the brick buildings of The Bank of NSW and the Post Office. The impressive Bank of NSW was constructed in the 1870's and incorporated a managers residence on the upper floor, whilst the Post Office operated in this building from 1879 until 1989. The Post Office is now used as a private residence.
Running parallel to Denison St is Bowen Street, where you will find one of the oldest buildings in Sofala. Dating from 1851, The Gas Hotel was one of the original licensed premises in town. The low doorways are thought to indicate the shorter stature of people in the 1850's. At the time of writing this building was For Sale and boasted original features such as open fireplaces in both the kitchen and lounge rooms, a tin bath (believed to be the original bath from the 1850's) and some original glass panels. Now that's what I would call a real renovators delight!
Other buildings on the walking tour include weatherboard cottages, a timber slab shed, Gold Commissioners residence and the Court House dating from 1874.
After your walk refreshments are available from The Royal Hotel, Café Sofala or the Panner's Inn, al located on Denison Street. Or if you want some quiet time to yourself you could make use of the child minding facilities.
No children were harmed in the writing of this article