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How's the serenity?

AUSTRALIA | Tuesday, 25 March 2008 | Views [333]

This entry was originally conceived as a fairly detailed journal of my Easter break, three and a bit days I spent in Hill End, a small town west of Sydney.

I had first heard of Hill End via a friend of mine who had taken a small expedition out a couple of years ago. The name stuck with me as a place to visit sometime down the track.

Then earlier this year I stumbled across a review of an exhibition of photographs taken by a Hill End resident by the name of Bill Moseley. I went along to the exhibit and was amazed by his noirish, almost Lynchian visions of rural Australia.

So with Easter approaching, a few days off, and the burning desire to get the hell out of the city, I made a quick choice to just bugger off to this old mining town.

According to one website I found (but now cannot recall the URL for), “Hill End is no longer the tourist town it used to be.”

Thank God for that, thought I. It was my plan to go there for some rest, photography, and hopefully inspiration to kick off some writing.

Hill End spiked in population in the early 1870s, when the town of a few hundred residents exploded to nearly 8500 after large deposits of gold were found in the surrounding area. At it’s peak, there were 28 pubs in the town. After the gold ran out, it took less than fifty years for the population to dwindle to around 700.

During the boom times, there were many businesses doing a roaring trade. Places such as Condell’s Boot Mart, Hermann’s Tinsmith Premises, and Hart’s Tobacco Shop & Fancy Book Depot.

The place I thought sounded like a lot of fun to work at was Myer & Siefke’s Circulating Library, Shooting Gallery, Bowling Saloon & Tobacco Shop.

It’s a small place with only one public phone and minimal to non-existent mobile phone coverage (depending on who your carrier is).

There were, though, pockets of the trappings of civilisation…


During the few days at Hill End, I did indeed rest and get some great photos, but did not get as much writing done as I had hoped. I was greatly entertained by a group of Sydney lads on an annual Easter piss-up as they performed Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions. I bonded instantly with them when I produced an Arnie voice of my own. Several beers were consumed, and quite a few dollars found their way into the pub’s swear tin (proceeds going to the construction of a decent building to house the local Bush Fire Brigade). I met Len, a fellow in his 90s who could out-swear the entire United States Marine Corp. I suggested that his contribution to the swear tin would ensure that, when built, the Bush Fire Brigade building should be named after him.

And I got some shots of things other than highrise buildings or the ocean.



I grabbed a photo of Len, with his dog Snake, on the bonnet of Steve’s old EJ wagon.

This is an old church, denomination unknown, now privately owned. I thought it would make an amazing residence and studio.

And some fairly noir photos, inspired by the work of Mr Moseley…






More shots at my Flickr site, or at Red Bubble.

Tags: australia, hill end, nsw

 

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