Gold discovery beats heat

Gold discovery beats the heat

Farming Small Areas News
WHOLESOME: No houses of ill repute to be seen - Hill End in a heat wave.

WHOLESOME: No houses of ill repute to be seen - Hill End in a heat wave.


Ross Pride's Monday to-do list was too long for the heat so he took a road trip to Hill End.


The Monday morning ‘to do’ list was longer than usual.

It included sorting out the electricals on the quad bike, now stalled down at the creek half a kilometre from the home paddock; start rewiring the sagging vegie garden fence; investigate the expensive-looking leak in the house tank; procrastinate some more about the serrated tussock and more.

If the list was long, the day itself looked even more daunting.

It was going to be one of those 40 degrees numbers that cooked everyone during January, and the prospect of physical exertion was about as appealing as putting on a suit and door knocking for donations to an obscure charity.

Dear wife had a life-saving idea - how about we pile into the car with our two house guests plus small dog and go for a drive?

I remember my brother and I being taken on Sunday drives, in dad’s green 1954 Morris Oxford, ‘to look at gardens’.

It was a form of Menzies-era torture that scarred me for life.

The proposed drive meant an escape from hard labour, and indeed the delicious prospect of being air-conditioned for a few hours.

So it was we found ourselves at Hill End, the 1870s gold rush town.

Which, as trivia experts will tell you, was known as Forbes prior to 1862.

The once 8000 plus population has now dwindled to about 80, all of whom on this day seemed to have retreated to the pub.

Since the gold ran out, the attrition rate for the town’s buildings has been just as steep.

But as a reminder of past glories, small metal signs have been installed around the place showing grainy old photographs of the pubs.

There were eight as well as assorted banks, grocers’ stores and bordellos that once occupied the now empty blocks of land.

Regarding bordellos, I would be doing the town’s former civic fathers a disservice not to mention that ladies of the night allegedly, if discovered, were run out of town. Can’t let them distract us, fellas, we have shafts to dig.

The temperature kept rising, and our sightseeing soon gave way to hitting the 1872 Royal Hotel.

Every self-respecting NSW town has a Royal Hotel.

The designated driver of course heroically abstained, but the local brew lubricated lengthy yarning with the locals, leading to unanimous agreement that it was indeed a hot day.

Eventually, home sweet home.

The ‘to do’ list hadn’t budged, but then again we’d escaped a lot of the heat, dabbled in some history and had fun.

And I hadn’t had to look at any gardens.


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