Sofala NSW – The Turon River Gold Fields
We are camped up in one of our favourite haunts… along the Turon River near Sofala, deep in the hinterland of Central NSW. When most Grey Nomads are on their northern sojourn, chasing the sun, The Man and I have elected to winter in the chill southern States this year. We are looking forward to enjoying the frosty mornings, the sweet morning chorus of the birds as they choose their winter mates, and prepare for the deep winter and the break of spring that will bring the promise of a new generation.
I love this region, and this season. The toasting campfires, and the low hanging mists of the morning that creep down the valleys are something to be enjoyed as our temperatures begin to drop. I love the humble potato, roasted in its jacket in the campfire and served slathered in rich butter. I love the sizzle of a good sausage and the sweet taste of onions charred on the camp grill as we sit around a warming fire toasting our toes. These are amongst the many things I am looking forward too in this coming season. After spending two years chasing the sun… misty mornings and rainy days are looking good.
We are here for a spell, camped alongside the Turon river where a rich history has lived its time. This when our forefathers came before us to open up these lands to the rest of the world. My Great Grandparents scoured these very hills a century ago. They would make their way into the gold bearing camps, set up the simple canvas tent and pan for the precious metal that enthralled the nation in the late 1800’s.
It was a very different time then. The work was hard, and the living often even harder. Building this Nation was a painful path, one taken by ordinary people in an extraordinary land and even more extraordinary times. Women bore their babies in the shade of the she oak’s here. Parents watched their youngsters grow here, or often pass beyond their reach so easily. Kids tumbled freely along the dusty tracks and rollicked alongside the men in the way of children. It was a common sight as they too learnt how to puddle for gold.
Today I sit comfortably, and happily watch The Man search across that same ground with his high tech’ detector. Or occasionally he will be found puddling in the small pools that sit deep in the creek bed, awaiting the flush or the rains. The Turon here is low now, so low that much of it flows beneath the stones and sand, emerging in places to pool for the ducks and other wildlife that will visit the precious pools.
Some days we will head out, on a tour of discovery along those dusty tracks. We will be comfortable in our air-conditioned cabs. These tracks are tamer now, but they still cut steeply into the hills at places. Still there is the odd memorial where a soul has come to grief on the swift turn of a bend, or the steep embankment, one spilling off the edge of the rolling hills.
A century ago it would be a tumbled grave where a colonialist may have lost his life in a skirmish for gold or a accident with his horse and cart… but such things have now passed and we hopefully no longer shoot each other for the golden nugget buried in the gritty sand.
Finding the small scars or marks of history along the track though is a treasure and the only thing we shoot now a-days is a photo of a remarkable old building, often crumbling into dust as the years overtake such things.
Our world has changed a great deal and it is often here, in these small towns and rolling hills or the early settlements that you will find the tenuous marks of a time since past. These struggling country towns are the last bastion of a history, almost forgotten. The history of these towns is rarely taught to our kids and fast fading in the face of progress and time. It is a sad thing to see such rich things slip between our fingers in the passing of the years. History is our story… and we should never forget the stories of our past, and to where we belong.
You might drive through these small settlements on the way to another destination, and never know its history or the story it has to tell of its survival, within its time. You might miss it entirely, or wonder at its existence high on the crest of the hill or deep in a forgotten valley. These places were a refuge once. A sanctuary from raging bushfires, greater floods or wilder times and often a small country town can be filled with tales to tell. Where men and women gathered as death and destruction raged uncertainly about them, sheltering together in a tenuous safety. It is worth thinking about such things as you travel a nation. It is worth remembering that those wide stock routes that you find across the land that offer those precious free-camps and hospitality are really escape routes in times of fire, drought and flood. This is our land… and I love its many faces and places. I love its stories and listening to the many tales to be told. Researching the history of the places you visit is often worth their very weight in gold.
Jan is an author and writer, who write’s about her travel experiences as she and The Man tour the vast continent. From the blue oceans to the red deserts you can read all the many varied experiences of traveling across this land.
Delve into the richness of the ancient Indigenous Lore of the land and discover many of the mysteries of the Serpents and the Spirits of the Land, these in a hidden world of Ancient Lore, still present across a forgotten land.
Read more in the tales of The Dreaming. Follow the path and lives of the Featherfoot, learn more about the Lore of the Kadaitcha. Journey with the young men and women who live within the boundaries of the Lore, in fictional tales of adventure and love.
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The NSW back roads are one of our best kept secrets aren’t they? We were captivated with Sofala when we passed through there a couple of years back. Would love to return. Enjoy your ramble and travel safe.
They truly are… There is nothing like the old gold towns. Nundle too is really one of my favourites
Ah Nundle is on our list to visit…one day.
On the 1st May they are having their annual dog race… That should be a real fun event to enjoy… An the small township itself is a delight to explore. I’ll tell you about it in my next posting.
I’ll look forward to it. Thanks