Sofala was born out of the 19th century Australian gold rush after the precious metal was discovered in the Bathurst region in the early 1850s. Once a thriving goldmining town on the banks of the Turon River, Sofala is now a delightful village where you’ll discover a fascinating heritage.
Alluvial gold was discovered in 1851 near Sofala, and a tent city mushroomed along the riverbanks. Today you can 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.
Try your luck panning for gold or go fishing along the river near Sofala, which is a 3h 20min drive northwest of Sydney and a 40-minute drive north of Bathurst. Tours of the goldfields around Sofala, including Detour Adventures and Simmo’s Offroad Tours, depart from Bathurst.
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.
Places to stay include a lovely 1870s-built cottage and Chesleigh Homestead, where you can go horseriding and pan for gold. 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.
Head along to the annual Sofala District Agriculture and Horticulture Show, a fun family event in February. 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.