The once beautifully scenic drive along the Bridle Track that runs between Bathurst and Hill End, while still beautiful is no longer open, somewhat taking away from the beauty of the historical country off road tour.
A landslide back in August 2010 at a particularly narrow but breathtaking point on the track called Monaghan’s Bluff closed the road and virtually halted the once famous tourist trail of visitors up the track. Probably forever unfortunately.
Despite good efforts by concerned locals, neither the local Bathurst Regional Council, nor the NSW State Government have seen re-opening the road as being important.
And it isn’t as simple as bulldozing off the obstruction either. The road is narrow, the drop off is several hundred feet and the rock above the landslide is said to be unstable. To re-open the Bridle Track will take good engineering, a good commitment of funds and support from the authorities. But what price do you place on the tourism dollar.
With many rural communities struggling to attract the tourism dollar, I can’t help but think that if the Bridle Track could be transplanted to another town, it would be considered a treasure. A gold mine for tourists.
Personally, I think it should be re-opened.
The Bridle Track is a significant part of the local Bathurst history. This is a road dating back to the 1850’s traversing incredibly rocky terrain to form a track between Bathurst (then only 35 years old) and the thriving Hill End Gold mining town. It was a busy route in its time.
Leaving Bathurst, the Bridle Track took travellers to the thriving gold mining town of Hill End. This community had about 8,000 residents, 5 banks, 8 churches (many of which are still standing) and a staggering 28… yes 28 pubs. Amazing. To visit Hill End today is to walk back in time.
But today, this road to Hill End is closed. You can enjoy a beautiful drive up the Bridle Track to within a 2km point south of the blockage at Monaghan’s Bluff but you must go back as it is no longer a through road. a 4WD is recommended, although not essential. You can camp in designated areas along the way and it is a great day out*.
With a keen eye, you’ll spot the original Bridle Track which follows the road for much of the way.
You’ll see the amazing bridge work, now ageing and collapsing. Here is one of my favourite bridges. No longer trafficable, it may not last much longer but well worth the visit before it falls victim to its old age.
Today, you can’t enjoy the whole Bridle Track. But in my opinion, if you are going to do the track from the Bathurst side, you must then backtrack and go up to Hill End (via Sofala) to enjoy a beer in the pub, take in the craft shops and café and look at the remainder of the track from the north side.
*Much of the Bridle Track is out of mobile coverage. Please make sure you tell someone where you’re going and when you are expected back. Take water, food, something warm and above all, make sure your vehicle is suitable for the drive. You can also enjoy the Bridle Track in safety and comfort with Detour Adventures.