Immortalised on the original ten dollar note, and home to Henry Lawson, Gulgong offers a unique glimpse into Australia's rich colonial history. Carefully preserved 19th century buildings, and a friendly country ambience make Gulgong an excellent place to spend an afternoon walking down memory lane. The town is an easy drive from major attractions in the Central West such as the popular wine growing region of Mudgee, and is a three and a half hour drive from Sydney.
Like many towns in the region, Gulgong was founded when gold was discovered in the area in the 1870's. Many of the buildings in the town date back to this period. A short walking tour takes in the most impressive of the town's historic buildings including the Post Office and the former Australian Stock Bank. The town is also home to the Prince of Wales Opera House which claims to be the oldest continually operating Opera House in the country. This charming Victorian theatre still hosts regular performances and is well worth a visit.
The Gulgong Pioneers museum is one of the finest historical museums in the country with an eclectic collection of artefacts ranging from Cobb & Co. coaches and fire engines to printing presses and surgical equipment. The museum has meticulously reconstructed a number of buildings from the pioneering period including a school class room, a blacksmiths forge, and the original pub. Unfortunately the taps have run dry for a long time. The museum also boasts a reconstructed streetscape from the 1800's and an audio-visual theatre which charts the lives of some of the town's most prominent pioneering women.
Without doubt Gulgong's most famous son is the writer, Henry Lawson. While he was born in the nearby town of Grenfall, Lawson spent much of his childhood in Gulgong and wrote of it sentimentally in some of his most famous poems and stories. The Henry Lawson centre, located in a former Salvation Army Hall, charts the life of this literary hero through letters, paintings, and his poetry and stories. The displays are organised around the various stages of Lawson's life and touch on his early years, struggles with deafness and alcoholism, as well as his passionate concern for social reform and fractious relationships with the various women in his life.
For a town of barely 2000 people, Gulgong has plenty of good eating and drinking options. The Muse Brasserie is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers an excellent selection of dishes and the cosiness of an open fire. Their are four pubs in the centre of town, the best of which is the Prince of Wales Hotel which retains a friendly colonial charm and serves good hearty pub grub. With a bustling beer garden, and regular live entertainment, the Prince of Wales makes an excellent place to refresh after an afternoon exploring one of Australia's most interesting towns.
Perhaps the best time to visit Gulgong is the June long weekend for the Henry Lawson festival when the town comes alive with poetry, music, food and wine. January sees the Opera House taken over by the Gulgong Folk festival which draws some of the country's premier artists.