In 1851, gold was discovered at Hill End, then known as Bald Hill, and by 1872, at the height of the great gold rush, the town was the largest inland settlement in NSW.
It had a population of 10,000 and boasted a kilometre of colourful shopfronts, including 28 pubs, an opium den and an oyster bar.
Gold mining activity gradually dwindled, until by the 1920s there were just a few hundred miners left to pick over the former diggings.
The town was proclaimed an historic site in 1967, when the National Parks and Wildlife Service began preserving and restoring the buildings on the site.
Why go there
With its museum displays and many preserved buildings, Hill End offers a fascinating insight into the 19th-century gold rush. Visitors also have the opportunity to sift through old mining rubble and perhaps find something of value.
The rugged scenery has inspired many renowned Australian painters, including Donald Friend and Russell Drysdale, who painted some of the finest Australian landscapes of the 20th century.