The road to get to Merlin’s Lookout near Hill End, NSW is a windy, dirt road. There were moments driving up when we wondered if it was actually worth it. But when we reached the top, and we were the only ones there able to take in the very awesome 360 view, we realised it definitely worth it. And besides it was only about 2km from the township.
Our only major excursion for the day was the drive from Mudgee to Hill End. We had also planned to visit Sofala, but missed the turn.
We were engrossed in listening to some episodes of the “Conversations” radio show. In particular, we listened to an episode about a woman I’ve known and worked with over a number of years. The story was about herself, her children and her late husband, Russell. I have always had a soft spot for Russell, as he employed me at the ABC in Wagga Wagga many years ago. Like me, he was born and raised in Northern NSW; he also had an interesting upbringing story; and he went to school on the outskirts of Lismore, where I grew up.
As I worked with him I got to know him, and in particular loved his wonderful dry sense of humour, and his sometimes blunt honesty. Sadly, Russell died from cancer a number of years ago, and the story was about her experience of grief.
She’s recently made a podcast about that experience for the BBC. I’d highly recommend it to you, though a warning: in the midst of some of the laughter, there are moments of tears. Click on the link for the trailer, and you’ll be in tears within seconds. https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08t2w2w
Anyway, I digress, we missed the turn to Sofala. But the experience of visiting Hill End made up for it.
Hill End was, remarkably, once the largest inland town in NSW, thanks to the discovery of gold. Years later, Hill End became a popular place for many well-known Australian artists to visit, ncluding Russell Drysdale, Donald Friend, Margaret Olley, Brett Whiteley and John Olsen. The artist connection lives on with a number of physical references to works painted there on display throughout the town.
These days, there’s not much to Hill End, with lots of empty buildings and a museum. Oh, and a pub where we had a very enjoyable lunch.
The backyard of the pub was full of family groups, thanks to the school holidays. I guess it’s a great place for families to learn a bit about history, and do some outdoorsy stuff. One of the things we noticed in the backyard of the pub was that mobile phone reception was very poor. We laughed at the teenage girl who was walking around trying to get mobile reception. In the end she had to actually sit down and talk to her parents.
After lunch we wandered around the town, and enjoyed visiting the historic buildings (which have National Parks protection) and the museum which is well worth a visit,
It was a terrific day drive from Mudgee. If you’re ever visiting the Central West of NSW, I’d highly recommend Hill End.