Tracing Australia’s first goldrushes through the NSW goldfields reveals beautiful historic towns and passionate people who keep the gold years alive.

Story + Photos Don Fuchs

After leaving Bathurst, the first port of call on this journey through the goldfields of NSW is Wattle Flat, just 38km north. It is a modest beginning: a small collection of humble houses and a short gravel path with interpretative signs where the Solitary Mine once stood. Just 8km further on is Sofala. This historic little village huddles in a valley along the banks of the Turon River. It proudly claims the title of ‘Australia’s oldest surviving gold town’. Almost all the buildings are authentic and date back to the goldrush. Some are in stages of disrepair; others are still functioning. The Royal Hotel (1862) continues to open its doors to thirsty travellers and locals. 

On the Turon River, just out of sight of the village, lives 72-year-old Rick Wigglesworth. Below his house, old mining tunnels lead down to the river. Opposite, shielded by tall casuarinas, is Golden Point, one of the main mining areas of Sofala. The churned-up ground, which has yielded so much of the precious metal, is almost bare and shows its scars like fresh wounds. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #130

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2020