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Hillgrove Accidentally

We were in search of a particular National Park lookout, on our way home from our big day out to my son's university in Armidale. It was the garden of this cute cottage which caught my eye, enough to ask Master J to stop and let me take some photos. Then we noticed the sign -

'Chalker's Cottage'????

But which building was actually the Chalker's Cottage and who or what was or is the Chalker?

We passed some vacant blocks of land and small buildings then came to this more substantial one - 'Post and Telegraph Office Hillgrove 1901-1949'.

Numerous green visitors' signs were dotted all through the almost-ghost-'village'. But why, what happened? What is/was Hillgrove?

Do you fancy settling here? Seems there is at least one 'property' on the market. Looks like it may even have the electricity connected.

We found a museum but it was closed. The road did not go the the lookout we were in search of. This was a most delightful and mysterious accidental dead-end detour which left us very curious about the history of this place. I wondered aloud if it had once been a mining town.

Once home again some internet searching proved my hunch to be correct. Gold was discovered in the area around 1857, but it was the mining of antimony in the 1870's which saw this township established with a shaft sunk 610 m/yds below the surface of the creek which itself was about 400m/yds down the steep Hillgrove Gorge. 

Hillgrove went on to become one of the major gold fields of NSW with over 15, 000 kg (33,000 lbs) of gold being produced. At its height in 1898 it had a population of 3, 500 similar to  that of nearby Armidale at the time. As for the rest of the fascinating story - I'll let you discover that for yourself here and here.

I would love to spend more time leisurely exploring Hillgrove one day, at a time when the Museum is open. But this day we had other destinations to reach before the sunset.....

Sharing at SkyWatch Friday.

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