Gayle Beveridge is a past winner of the Boroondara Literary Awards and her work has appeared in Award Winning Australian Writing. Gayle is passionate about family, writing, photography, and with Victoriaís beautiful Bass Coast which she now calls home.
Published September 12th 2021
Escape the world in relaxing Hillston
Hillston, the largest town on the Carathool Shire with a population of around 1,500, was our second stop when my husband and I set off on a long road trip to outback New South Wales and Queensland. Hillston reminds me of Hay, just quieter. We called in at the information centre which is in The Red Dust and Paddy Melons Gallery on High Street.
Large trees on the bans of the Lachlan River - Photo by Gayle Beveridge
Hillston has been around for a while having been founded in 1863 when a stockman named William Ward Hill established the Redbank Hotel. It was where stock crossed the Lachlan River and was called Redbank until 1869 when a post office was established and it became Hillston as we know it today. The Redbank Hotel burned down in 1915 and was replaced in 1916 with what is today the Tattersalls Hotel.
Hillston carries its history well and is surrounded by areas of natural beauty. We hadn't expected much before we arrived but we were pleasantly surprised. Here's what we did and why I think you should go.
1. Good Food. We lunched at the Ex-Servicemen's and Citizens' Club. The lunch special was recommended and rightly so, as not only was it tasty but in too large a quantity to be finished. The Club is also the local Chinese restaurant and take-away, as was the Sporting Club at Darlington Point and I wondered if this is common in regional NSW? Click here to visit the Club's website and check out their menu.
2. History and Street Murals. We wandered along the main street for a leisurely look at the place. Many of the shop windows had historical photos on display and there are small information boards on some telling of the town's history. There is a large mural on the side wall of the IGA supermarket, a sepia-toned scene of men unloading goods from the back of a rather hefty horse-drawn wagon.
The mural of the supermarket wall - Photo by Gayle Beveridge
3. John Woods Park. At John Woods Park I stopped to photograph the water tower, (it's sort of my thing.)
4. Lake Woorabinda. After we'd settled into the caravan park I wandered off to see Lake Woorabinda next door. I had feared it would be dry but there was water. There were dragonflies everywhere, all a beautiful iridescent green. They were too fast for a photo.
Juvenile Aust. Hobby at Woorabinda Lake - Photo by Gayle Beveridge
The lake is surrounded by a walking track which was longer than I anticipated and took me about an hour. I did stop to take photos along the way and saw two types of birds I had never come across before. The Lachlan River runs alongside the lake. It is a great place for photography.
There is playground equipment at the edge of the caravan park and, on that day, there and at the lakeside are hundreds of Little Corellas. Beneath the trees, leaves, twigs and berries littered the ground. The birds were a sight to behold, the noise and destruction to the trees, not so much.
There are concrete grain silos and a large bulkhead across the road from the lake which are an imposing sight in themselves. It was here I saw my first road train on our trip.
A road train in Hillston - Photo by Gayle Beveridge
5. The Lachlan River Swing Bridge. In the afternoon, we found the Lachlan River Swing Bridge. It is accessed from a pathway off High Street between the shopping are and the caravan park and is clearly signed at the path. Heights are not my thing and swinging bridges fall into the same category, but it doesn't sway all that much and I made it to the other side just a little unsettled.
The Lachlan River Swing Bridge - Photo by Gayle Beveridge
6. Desthalon Park. In Desthalon Park, on the other side of the swing bridge fallen tree branches have been turned into statues of sorts, a dragon and a crocodile. A third is carved a little and one end is painted red. I'm not sure what it's meant to be.
Wooden sculpture at Desthalon park - Photo by Gayle Beveridge
7. The Lachaln River Trail. We walked along a track beside the Lachlan River which runs right through the town. Majestic gum trees overhang the bank, some on so much of a lean it's hard to image how they stay up. We spotted a pair of red-rumped parrots and some brown treecreepers. We heard a number of kookaburras but only sighted one.
Where to Stay. Our home away from home while we were there was the Hillston Caravan Park at 101 High Street. It is a pleasant park, ideally situated within walking distance of shops and of the lake. They can be contacted on 02 6967 2575 or 0429 690 012, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to visit their website. Accommodation is also available at The Kidman Way Motor Inn, the Hillston Motor Inn on High, and Dhillon Self-Contained.
Getting There. Hillston is on The Kidman Way 680 km west from Sydney via Bathurst, West Wyalong and Goolgowi, 110 kms north of Griffith, 415 km south of Bourke (where we were headed on our trip) and 570 km north of Melbourne via Shepparton and Jerilderie (where we had come from.)
Visitor Information. The Visitor Information Centre is part of The Red Dust and Paddy Melons Gallery at 170 High Street. It can be contacted on (02) 6967 1594. Click here for a detailed map of the town and its services, including where to stay and where to eat. Click here to go to the Carrathool Shire website.
Where:Hillston is on The Kidman Way 680 km west from Sydney via Bathurst, West Wyalong and Goolgowi, 110 kms north of Griffith, 415 km south of Bourke and 570 km north of Melbourne via Shepparton and Jerilderie