On the banks of the gorgeous Turon River, Sofala is a delightful village in the beautiful Bathurst region with a rich and intriguing colonial goldmining heritage. Amble along the pretty streets and you’ll see buildings from the 19th century gold rush, including the Royal Hotel, a classic wooden pub.
The streetscape features in famous Australian artist Russell Drysdale’s Sofala, described by the Art Gallery of NSW as one of his finest paintings and ‘an expression of the quintessential qualities of an inland Australian country town’. The painting won the prestigious Wynne Prize in 1947.
Gold fever struck Australia in the early 1850s when gold in payable amounts was discovered in the Bathurst region of NSW. Sofala was one of the first areas to experience the gold rush, with a tent city mushrooming along the riverbanks after alluvial gold was discovered in 1851.
You can still try your luck panning for gold or fishing along the river near Sofala, which is less than four hours’ drive northwest of Sydney and a short drive north of Bathurst. Tours of the goldfields around Sofala depart from Bathurst, including Detour Adventures and Simmo’s Offroad Tours.
You’ll find charming places to stay in and around Sofala, including a colonial cottage that was built in the 1870s and Chesleigh Homestead, where you can go horseriding on trails and pan for gold in creeks. Take a historical walking tour through Sofala and explore the Upper Turon for reminders of the gold rush, including diggings, gravestones, buildings and a Chinese miner settlement.
Stop for a refreshment at the cafe in the Old Sofala Gaol. The Turon Technology Museum, just outside town, is intriguing with its steam engines. The annual is a fun family event and just south of Sofala is the village of Wattle Flat, home of the annual Wattle Flat Bronze Thong festival of horseracing, wood chopping and flip-flop throwing.