Hill End Historic Site is situated approximately 300km north-west of Sydney and 80km north of Bathurst. It lies mostly within Evans Shire near its northern boundary with Mudgee Shire.
The historic site consists of approximately 130ha of land within the village of Hill End, including two outlying areas of land: Valentine's Mine and the Roasting Pits.
Hill End Historic Site  contains the following elements: English Group, Bennett House, District Hospital, Jeffree/Warry House, Craigmoor, Murray House, CWA House, Royal Hall, Royal Hotel, General Store, General Store Sheds, Piesley House, Bakehouse, Rose Cottage, Rectory buildings, Heap/Adler House, Woolard House, Krohmann-Ackerman Cottage, Northey's Store, Lyle House, Risby House, Hosie's House, Telegram Office, Hocking House, Holtermann's House, Beyer House, Mobb House, Great Western Store, Fry's Hut, Bryant's Butchery, Assay Office, Haefliger House, Post Office, Bleak House, Fairfax House, Denman House, Denman House shed, Catholic Church, the Manse, Carver House, Bald Hill Mine, Pullen's Battery, Chappell's Battery , Quartz Roasting Pits and Valentine's Mine.
The Valentine Mine comprises a series of shafts, a large tailings dump, trolley way, boiler block, battery house, ten head battery, explosives shed, battery sand flow, cyanide tanks, water tank stand, blacksmiths shop, managers residence, horse paddock and large dam. There are also building mounds and a rubbish dump.
The Quartz Roasting Pits are located approximately 10 km north of Hill End and comprises a pair of inverted bell shaped kilns, a battery building, a dam and the remains of two houses. It represents one of the oldest surviving gold extraction sites surviving in Australia.
Modification dates vary.
Physical Condition and Archaeological Potential vary.
Prior to c. 1820, when the country around Hill End was settled by pastoralists such as George Suttor and Cummings who ran sheep and cattle, it was the home of the Wiradjuri Aboriginal people.
Payable gold was discovered in the Tambaroora and Hill End goldfields by mid 1851, following discoveries in the region in previous months. Shortly afterwards the population exploded and, for a while, the area exceeded the Victorian fields in size and prosperity. Early efforts were focussed on alluvial gold and the towns of Hill End and Tambaroora grew up around the creeks and dams worked for that purpose. In 1859, with the imposition of an urban plan for Hill End, the town grew in a more orderly fashion and by the height of the second, larger rush in 1872, it was the largest inland settlement in the colony of New South Wales.
After German prospector Bernhardt Holtermann discovered a 286kg gold mass in Hawkins Hill, on the edge of town, the largest sample of reef gold ever found, his huge 'nugget' attracted fortune hunters from Europe, the USA and Australia to the then small town. The influx of tens of thousands to Hill End and its surrounds turned the town into a thriving settlement, complete with 28 hotels, stock exchange, an opium den and an oyster bar. Hill End became home to what was thought to be the richest quarter mile in the world. Quartz veins thick with gold were followed up to 600m across, and alluvial gold initially seemed easy pickings for miners heading to the banks of the Turon River (Russo, 2016, 86).
The discovery of alluvial gold, readily recoverable from the clay beds of creeks and dams, brought large numbers of individual, inexperienced prospectors to the Tambaroora area. The inexpensive and often simplistic equipment needed to extract the gold was well suited to both the skills and capital such individuals possessed. A good living could be made by the self-employed miner. This ensured an ever-changing stream of immigrants and locals moving in and out of the goldfields from the cities. Few miners remained to settle in the areas where they made their fortune, a tendency indicated by the small percentage of families present on many of the major fields and the sharp falls in population during times of drought or when the gold supply itself began to run out . By the late 1860s reef exploitation had emerged as the most popular and profitable method of mining, acting as the catalyst for the second, larger gold rush of the 1870s, when Hill End reached its peak in size and prosperity (NPWS 1997: 13-15).
The heady years were short-lived. Just two years later (1874), the major mines closed down and those who stayed were hunting for alluvial gold or working in old reefs. At the turn of the century (1900), only 500 people remained, hanging on by panning for gold and living off the land (ibid, 2016, 86).
By 1947 the town had been all but forgotten, when an article appeared in the 'Sydney Morning Herald'. Sydney-born artist Donald Friend spotted the piece, reading 'the country is pitted with diggings that twist and burrow like the trenches of some old battlefield'. He was intrigued and convinced his friend, painter Russell Drysdale to drive the untamed roads west. They were both enamoured by the decaying town and its neighbour Sofala, 25km to the east, with Drysdale working on emotionally charged landscapes with a frenzied energy. Friend's was a slower process of art-making - but it was he who bought a cottage in the town that same year. He lived there with his partner, Donald Murray, for whom the cottage is now named. Other painters soon followed, lured by the richness of the history and landscape and the unique Australia they saw in their colleagues' work. By the late 1950s Hill End was revered as a central force in Australian art, with John Olsen, Brett Whiteley, Jean Bellette, Margaret Olley and JOhn Firth-Smith all making the pilgrimmage west (ibid, 2016, 86-87).
Public interest in Hill End resumed in the 1940s due largely to the work of artists including Friend and Drysdale. The discovery in the 1950s of hundreds of photographic plates depicting scenes and buildings in the Hill End in the early 1870s captured by Beufoy Merlin, further boosted interest along with the extensive Holtermann photographic collection.
The town was gazetted as an historic site under the National Parks and Wildlife Act in 1967.
Today the population stands at about one hundred and twenty, a stark contrast from the estimated 8,000 during its peak.
Today the contemporary art scene in Hill End is just as strong (as the 1950s). Luke Sciberras, an acclaimed landscape painter who has lived in the village for more than a decade, attributes this to a 'tremendous momentum that has been found here'. The list of artists he cites as regular visitors sounds like a roll-call of some of Australia's best contemporary painters: Euan Macleod, Guy Maestri, Ben Quilty and Laura Jones, to name a few (ibid, 2016, 87).
Bathurst Regional Art Gallery has a one-month artist's residency at Hill End, a programme they have run since 1995, which has meant that hundreds of artists from all over the world have lived here, even if just for a short while (ibid, 2016, 87).