Exciting two day Hill End `gold panning' tour...
This scenic overnight four wheel drive tour travels unusual and historic routes through the `Blue Mountains', overnighting at the `Royal' Hotel, last of many in the `ghost town' of Hill End.
After escaping Sydney's traffic, our tour leads north-west to Wiseman's Ferry on the beautiful Hawkesbury River. After a light breakfast, we travel upstream with our track occasionally cut into the sandstone cliffs with sheer drops to the river below.
Crossing the River by ferry, we follow the Colo, a major tributary, deep into a sandstone laborinth where we climb into Sydney's famous Blue Mountains to follow the original Bell's Line of Road. As we approach the western end of the Blue Mountains plateau, we lunch beside a unique cutting, where horse drawn stage coaches negotiated a steep sandstone cutting through wonderfully sculptured rocks. We now leave the Hawkesbury Sandstones behind and head west in to `Gold' country.
The 1870s in Australia, were a time of intense `gold rush' fever and the Turon and Macquarie Rivers saw a frenzy of alluvial and reef mining activity. Passing through Turon Gates, we follow historic trails through areas now largely forgotten by the outside world. Ancient miner's tracks wind around hillsides, some only wide enough for foot or pack horse. Passing through old Sofala, we climb steeply to over 1000m to arrive at Hill End's `Royal Hotel' where good food and a cold beer awaits!
After a hearty country breakfast, we set off for a little `gold rush' of our own. Local resident, Ted Abbot knows exactly where we can find a little bit of `colour' and some back-bending exercise usually rewards us with a few grains of the precious metal. In it's boom time, Hill End boasted eight thousand people and several hotels. We take a short walk about town before lunch at the `Royal'.
Leaving town, we drop steeply to the Turon River where we follow an old `Bridle Trail' beside the Macquarie River. Constructed by gold diggers travelling from Bathurst, our path leads us to this delightful western slopes City. Here, if time permits, we take a quick whip around the famous Mount Panorama motor racing circuit.
From Bathurst, we follow the Great Western Highway up Victoria Pass and back into the Blue Mountains. We pass through the mountain villages of Mount Victoria, Blackheath and Katoomba where we pause at Echo Point to admire the famous `Three Sisters' rock formation in the late afternoon light.
If time permits, we can take a short walk into a Cool Temperate Rainforest, hidden in a deep gorge between sheers sandstone cliffs. Leaving Katoomba at sundown, we'll have you back in Sydney one and a half hours later.