Set alongside the pretty Turon River, Sofala is a small village that's big on history. It's now home to just over 200 people but was once a thriving town after alluvial gold was discovered in 1851. It’s not much more than three streets, but claims to be Australia's 'oldest surviving gold mining town' and still attracts prospectors today.
Things to do
Try your luck panning for gold in the Turon River. If the river doesn't turn up any gold dust, you can still throw a line in and reel in some fish. Tours of the goldfields around Sofala, including Detour Adventures and Simmo’s Offroad Tours, depart from Bathurst.
Take a historical walking tour in Sofala and explore the Upper Turon for reminders of the gold rush, including diggings, gravestones, buildings and a Chinese miner settlement. Amble along the pretty streets and you’ll see buildings from the gold rush era, including the Royal Hotel, a classic wooden pub on Denison Street. The Old Sofala Gaol is on Barkly Street.
You might recognise the village’s streetscapes from the painting Sofala by famous Australian artist Russell Drysdale. It’s described by the Art Gallery of NSW as ‘an expression of the quintessential qualities of an inland Australian country town’ and won the prestigious Wynne Prize in 1947.
Head along to the annual Sofala District Agriculture and Horticulture Show, a fun family event in February or unearth a treasure at Slado's Recycled Books. Just outside town, the Turon Technology Museum features an intriguing display of steam engines. South of Sofala is the village of Wattle Flat, another historic gold rush town.
Getting there and where to stay
Sofala is a 3h 20min drive from of Sydney and 40min from Bathurst. You can also catch the train or fly to Bathurst and rent a car. Stay at a lovely 1870s-built cottage or Chesleigh Homestead, where you can go horseriding and pan for gold.