If you wish to gain some insight into how a 19th-century Australian gold mining town looked, it would be hard to do better than Gulgong – a highly picturesque and well-preserved settlement of single-storey weatherboard, iron, stone and brick buildings with old-fashioned iron-lace verandas, tiny wooden cottages, horse troughs and hitching rails.
The generally antiquated and intimate air also arises from the narrow winding streets which developed as bullock tracks connecting the major mining claims.
George and Henry Cox, early settlers had arrived and established Guntawang in 1822, but it wasn’t until 1870 when Tom Saunders discovered gold on Red Hill that Gulgong truly flourished. An estimated 20,000 people, lured by the prospect of a quickly amassed fortune, had flocked to the area and in 1872, this new tent settlement was surveyed as a town.
Gulgong is now a town of some 2500 people, located 293 km north-west of Sydney, 28 km north of Mudgee and 466 metres above sea-level. The mainstays of the local economy are kaolin clay mining, magnetite mining, a flour mill, the regions coal mines are just a short drive away (25 km north-east), tourism and rural industries such as wool, cropping, cattle and fat lambs.