Having lost none of its glittering charm from its early gold rush days, the sleepy town of Gulgong is well worth a visit.
When gold miner Tom Saunders discovered gold on a hill 25km north of the town of Mudgee in 1870, it began a rush of 20,000 people to the area, and soon led to the establishment of the town of Gulgong, which still radiates an air of those heady days.
While the lure of exploring a history-laden and fascinating country NSW town should be strong enough, here are five extra reasons to pay Gulgong a visit.
1. Check out the 130 National Trust-classified buildings
As can be seen by the old shopfronts, Gulgong embraces its history, and it’s all around you. There are 130 National Trust-classified buildings in the area, and the township preserves more than 170 significant buildings constructed between 1870 and 1910.
Iron lacework, hand cut board facings and elegantly curved bullnose corrugated iron verandahs reflect the swing of fortunes. From the ornate columns and features of the Post Office Hotel to the humble former Australian Joint Stock Bank’s weatherboard front there is plenty to see, and history walks are available from the local tourist information centre in Herbert Street.
Particular highlights include the Prince of Wales Opera House (where Dame Nellie Melba sang one of her earliest public performances), and ‘Lansdowne’ – a classic Australian Georgian cottage built by Henry Lawson’s father.
2. Visit Gulgong Pioneers Museum
Established in 1962, Gulgong Pioneers Museum is known as one of the four important folk museums in NSW. It houses one of the largest collections of Australiana in the country, and is home to mining relics from Gulgong’s days as a thriving gold mining town, and Indigenous artefacts.
Also found in the museum is farming equipment, period clothing and domestic tools and utensils. With the gold rush days far behind Gulgong now, the Pioneers Museum is pivotal in preserving the difficulties, hardships, but also triumphs of the town’s early history.
3. Gulgong Folk Music Festival
Held over New Years, the annual Gulgong Folk Music Festival sees the town come alive once again, filled with musicians, performers and entertainers. The musical festivities take place right through the town, with venues including the old Opera House, hotels, cafes and Coronation Park taking part. More than 50 musicians are on the bill, but busking is encouraged, so bring your guitar along and get involved yourself!
If music festivals aren’t your cup of team, Gulgong has quite a jam-packed events calendar that caters for all tastes. The Gulgong Show in February is a popular event, as is the newly established Chinese Gold Festival. Gulgong also hosts camel races, and the Gulgong Market is held on the fourth Saturday of each month.
4. Henry Lawson Centre
As the hometown of famed bush writer and iconic Australian literature figure Henry Lawson, it comes as no surprise to discover Gulgong has a museum dedicated to his life and literary works. The quaint building, once a Salvation Army Hall, takes visitors on a journey through the writer’s life via a series of illustrated wall displays.
From first edition books, to oil paintings, manuscripts and photos, the collection is a thorough and intriguing look into Lawson’s life and his influence across a vast array of issues and affairs.
5. Wollemi National Park
Gulgong is often used as a base for touring Wollemi National Park, a World Heritage-listed park home to some of the most spectacular wilderness area in NSW. Part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Wollemi NP is famed for its towering cliffs, deep canyons and surging rivers, with the mighty Colo and Wolgan rivers flowing through the park.
Whether it’s swimming, canoeing, camping, rock climbing or bush walking, the opportunities to enjoy the park are endless – there’s even a Glow Worm Tunnel, which is a great way to escape the heat during summer!