Townships and settlements
Hill End's reputation is legendary, with its heady and often erratic past. It has a rich history of free settlement around abundant natural resources. The town and its surrounding landscape hold stories of Aboriginal use, pastoralism, gold mining, artist's settlements, and a once-booming town life. The township, now Hill End Historic Site, is a small regional settlement of around 100 residents. It has stood the test of time, but is still attached to its colourful and dynamic past.
In contrast, Hartley arose from a government plan to establish a new police district between Bathurst and Penrith. The town was formally surveyed and laid out. It is dominated by an imposing sandstone courthouse, designed by the Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis and built in 1836. A small village grew up and remains today as Hartley Historic Site.
It is difficult to appreciate the extent of the original gold mining township of Kiandra. Most of the township's buildings, roads, and landscape features have been removed. At the northern end of Kosciuszko National Park, the town now only has a solitary brick chimney from the old Chinese bakery. However, the area is still rich with archaeological remains. Several archaeological digs have taken place here, to unearth evidence of village life in the alpine goldfields. You can take a stroll along a walking track through the village and travel back to earlier times.
What people have said
[The] gaps and silences invite reflection: about the natural and human interventions that have modified the etchings of past lives upon this landscape, and about the influence of past human occupancy upon the place. They invite our imagination to reconstruct the place as it might have been in times past.
When Donald Friend was rambling around Hill End in 1947, he 'found in a wattle-and-daub ruin, a pleasant old Staffordshire china bowl, in a creek bed, an old earthen crock, when out exploring about the town and the surrounding bush, which is pocked with gold diggings and the remains of a big population (about 30,000) but the bush has taken over areas which once were crowded with shacks and houses, and little remains now except broken shards to show they were ever here.'
Thus does historical imagination overlay the subtle actualities of evolving cultural landscapes.
From Hill End History, NPWS, prepared by Alan Maine, with quote from D. Friend, Hillendia, 14 September 1947.
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Page last updated: 21 May 2013