Hill End Hillbilly Hoot

06 November 2019 / Words by James & Giulia Schiemer, photos by Rod Nicholas

25-28 October 2019
The run start time was scheduled for 8.45 with a 9.00 am departure, so the organisers thought they’d be first there at 8.15; wrong! Half the nine-car group was already waiting at the Bungendore Oval car park, and the rest arrived soon after!

The drive via Tarago and Goulburn through to morning tea at Taralga’s Tangled Vine cafe was a breeze… quite strong actually! The next leg took us across the Abercrombie River and over the top of the range to Black Springs, on to a toilet stop at Rockley, and then to Bathurst for lunch at the Family Hotel. After refuelling people and cars, we set off for Hill End without losing anyone leaving Bathurst!

Our road took us through Turondale, across the bridge over the Turon that threatened to shake wheels off and fillings loose! After dodging several wayward sheep, we made it to the Hill End Lodge around 3.00 pm. We were greeted by John and Bernie, Brutus and Missy (the dogs), two roosters and several chickens, a flock of tame parrots and two savage guard-geese, as well as the visiting Dee Why Camera Club! But we survived and after a walk to the Royal for a beer or two, met at The Shed restaurant at the Lodge for dinner, to be served by Maxine and Moz. Our group also discovered the good value wine selection.

A stormy night resulted in a major blackout across the area next morning, so our Sofala lunch plans were shelved (there was lightning galore for those unlucky to be up at 2.30 am to watch it). But the rain cleared to allow our walking tour of the Hill End village and the local Tambaroora cemetery, ably guided by Johb who knew his history. Morning tea followed at the Tea House Cafe where Giulia was served the world’s largest lamington! A rethink for lunch saw us head to History Hill for a sausage sandwich and chips and a visit to their gold museum. A decision was made to visit Sofala anyway as it’s a great MX-5 road with lots of bendies, and we spent some time wondering their main street before relaxing at the pub (no tap beer or drinks, thanks to the blackout).

Returning to Hill End for a quick SCAN (Senior Citizen Afternoon Nap), we headed off on foot about 6.30 to… you guessed it, the Royal again, this time for dinner! The place was chockers, but bit of a wait for the food allowed plenty of drinking time, and after the meal we headed off back to the Lodge. Sounds simple… but it’s about a kilometre, pitch dark (no streetlights), lumpy bitumen, and of course many ghost stories! Isn’t it great that mobiles are equipped with torches, although one of our male members complained about the lights being shone on his butt!

Sunday morning saw a drive to Mudgee, some 75 kms away, dodging a few ‘roos, more sheep, and passing through Hargraves (a once lively gold mining town, now home to about 300 people). Some of our group visited wineries, others shopped, but we all met for lunch at the Mudgee Brewery at 1.30. We bought nibblies for the evening repast and headed back to Hill End. John (the owner) allowed us use of the conference room to enjoy our dinner items, and tell stories, and have a drink or two. By the way, the Lodge has a room with walls covered with decorated dinner plates from visiting clubs and groups, and ours is now up there, thanks to Rod!

Sadly, Monday morning saw us saying goodbye to John, Bernie, Maxine and Moz, Brutus and Missy, and the chooks and parrots and giving the geese a quiet ‘good riddance’. We departed for Bathurst via Sofala, Wattle Flat and Peel, stopping at Country Coffee in Bathurst for morning tea. No visit to Bathurst is complete without a lap around Mt Panorama, so of course we did just that, including the obligatory photos on the start line!

Then it was on to Crookwell for lunch, passing through Perthville, Trunkey Creek, Tuena and an emergency pee stop in Binda (I blame the coffee)!

After feasting at Café Zesst in Crookwell, we all made our own way home.

See more photos by Rod Nicholas here.