Gulgong is a 19th-century gold rush town in the Central Tablelands and the wider Central West regions of the Australian state of New South Wales. The town is situated within the Mid-Western Regional Council local government area. It is located about 300 km (190 mi) north west of Sydney, and about 30 km north of Mudgee along the Castlereagh Highway. At the 2021 census, Gulgong had a population of 2,680.[2]

New South Wales
Mayne Street
Gulgong is located in New South Wales
Coordinates32°21′47″S 149°32′00″E / 32.36306°S 149.53333°E / -32.36306; 149.53333
Population2,680 (SAL 2021)[1]
Elevation475 m (1,558 ft)
  • 299 km (186 mi) NW of Sydney
  • 110 km (68 mi) E of Dubbo
  • 174 km (108 mi) N of Orange
  • 30 km (19 mi) N of Mudgee
LGA(s)Mid-Western Regional Council
State electorate(s)Dubbo
Federal division(s)Parkes
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
23.0 °C
73 °F
9.5 °C
49 °F
647.8 mm
25.5 in
Anthony Trollope

Today, much of the 19th-century character of the town remains, contributing to its appeal as a tourist destination. Of special interest is the Prince of Wales Opera House, a survivor with a rich history.[3]

An attraction of note is the Gulgong Pioneer Museum, which has a huge collection of thematically-displayed exhibits, ranging from kitchen utensils to complete buildings that have been relocated to a "street" on the site. Apart from tourism and hospitality, local industries include wine production, wool, wheat growing and coal mining.

Yarrobil National Park is located 21 kilometres (13 mi) north west of Gulgong.



The name "Gulgong" is derived from the word used by the traditional inhabitants, the Wiradjuri, for "deep waterhole".

Lieutenant William Lawson passed through the area in November 1820 and again in 1821 and reported good grazing land in the region.[4] This prompted the brothers George and Henry Cox, sons of William Cox, to take up land to the south of the Gudgegong River, while Lawson applied for land grants to the north. Others soon followed, taking up land with river frontage along the Gudgegong. Among the first to take formal possession was Richard Rouse who was granted land in 1825 by Governor Brisbane.[5]

Gulgong came into existence after gold was discovered at Red Hill in 1870. The township was surveyed in August 1870. By the end of that year there were 800 people on the diggings, which yielded over 32 tons of gold in the 1870s.[6] The population had increased to 12,000 by the time the British author Anthony Trollope visited in October 1871.

Gullgong [sic] was certainly a rough place when I visited it, but not quite as rough as I had expected. There was a hotel there, at which I got a bedroom to myself, though but a small one, and made only of slabs. But a gorgeously grand edifice was being built over our heads at the time. The inhabited part of the town consisted of two streets at right angles to each other, in each of which every habitation and shop had probably required but a few days for its erection. The fronts of the shops were covered with large advertisements, the names and praises of traders as is customary now with all new-fangled marts, but the place looked more like a fair than a town ... Everything needful, however, seemed to be at hand. There were bakers, butchers, grocers, and dealers in soft goods. There were public houses and banks in abundance. There was an auctioneer's establishment, at which I attended the sale of horses and carts. There was a photographer, and there was a theatre, at which I saw the "Colleen Bawn" acted with a great deal of spirit, and a considerable amount of histrionic talent. After the theatre a munificent banker of the town gave us an oyster supper, at a supper-room. It may be inferred, therefore, that the comforts of life have not been altogether neglected at Gullgong. In the middle of the day there had been a public dinner or lunch, at which there was much speaking. I cannot say that the Gullgong oratory was as good as the Gullgong acting or the Gullgong oysters.[7]

The population of the town reached 20,000 in 1873.[6] The Gulgong gold field was one of the last to be developed as "poor man's diggings", that is by individuals without substantial capital investment. [citation needed]

Novelist and bush poet Henry Lawson lived briefly in Gulgong as a child in the early 1870s, while his father sought instant wealth as a miner. A montage of goldrush-era Gulgong street scenes was used as a backdrop to the portrait of Lawson on the first Australian ten dollar note (which was in use from 1966 until replaced by a polymer banknote in November 1993).[8] The town and its surrounding district feature in Lawson's fiction, especially in Joe Wilson and His Mates.

Gulgong is believed to be one of the primary locations in Thomas Alexander Browne's Robbery under Arms. Australia's first novelist of note, Browne was police magistrate in the period 1871-81. He once hosted English author Anthony Trollope, who later recorded his impressions of Australia and New Zealand (1875).[9]

In 1872, Henry Beaufoy Merlin took photographic images on glass-plate negatives of many buildings in Gulgong — with owners, tenants and passers-by — and of gold mines and miners, creating a unique record of life, in the town and its surroundings, at the time of the gold rushes.[10] These images of Gulgong form part of the Holtermann Collection.

Mayne St, Gulgong c. 1872–73, soon after Anthony Trollope's visit to Gulgong. Attributed to photographer Henry Beaufoy Merlin.

A nearby area on the state register is known as the Talbragar fossil site, containing sometimes excellently preserved specimens of plants, fishes, invertebrates and a previously unknown spider.[11] In addition, a site known as McGraths Flat about 25 miles northwest of Gulgong contains a recently discovered cache of Miocene era fossils.[12]

Historical population
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics data.[13][2]


Pioneers Museum
The Pioneer Museum is run completely by volunteer members of the Gulgong Historical Society Inc. Situated across a 1.5 acre site in the town centre the museum displays a significant collection of historic objects, including buildings and vehicles relocated from properties across the region. The collection captures the essence of the gold rush history of the town. [14]
Gulgong Holtermann Museum
Gulgong Holtermann Museum is a community project and a museum space located in gold rush town of Gulgong, New South Wales. Two of the town's earliest buildings, also featured on Australian ten-dollar note (see The Greatest Wonder) renovated and extended, house an interactive educational and tourist facility based on the UNESCO listed Holtermann Collection - photographs taken for Bernhardt Holtermann during the "roaring days" in the 1870s. [15] [16]
Gulgong Gold Experience
The location of the early gold finds in Gulgong has been turned into a Museum and exhibition. Built into Red Hill the site is home to an assortment of original mining equipment and has public access to one of the original mines.

Heritage listings


Gulgong has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:

Prince of Wales opera house
Built by 1871 by John Hart Gogden the Prince of Wales Opera house is the oldest still-operating Opera House in the Southern Hemisphere. The opera house is now owned and operated by the Gulgong Amateur Musical and Dramatical Society. [17] [18]
Hobsons Shops
Hobsons Shops is a heritage-listed retail building at 75 Herbert Street, Gulgong. It was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999. [19]
The Greatest Wonder of the World and American Tobacco Warehouse and Fancy Goods Emporium
The Greatest Wonder of the World and American Tobacco Warehouse and Fancy Goods Emporium are heritage-listed adjacent shops at 123-125 Mayne Street, Gulgong. They were built from 1870 to 1878. They have been refurbished to house the Gulgong Holtermann Museum, with new galleries constructed at the back to house the UNESCO listed HOLTERMANN COLLECTION. The original buildings were added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 21 October 2016. [20]
Wallerawang-Gwabegar railway
Wyaldra Creek railway bridge[21]
Wallerawang-Gwabegar railway
Gulgong railway station[22]
Gulgong gold miners, c. 1872–73 (State Library of New South Wales, attributed to photographer Henry Beaufoy Merlin)
Mayne St, Belmore St, Herbert St
A large portion of the homes and businesses on Mayne St are of historical significant and protected under Heritage Protection Laws.[23]



Gulgong is at the junction of the Sandy Hollow line (which runs west from Muswellbrook) and the Gwabegar line (which runs north-south from Gwabegar to Wallerawang). A section of the Gwabegar railway line south of Gulgong to Kandos has been closed since 30 June 2007.



Gulgong is a regular host to both regional and international festivals and events.

Clay Gulgong Festival
Gulgong has hosted an international ceramics festival every two to three years since 1989, most recently over April 9 to 15, 2022. [24] [25]
Folk Festival
Gulgong also hosts an annual folk festival. [26]
The Henry Lawson Festival
The Henry Lawson Festival is an arts festival held annually on the June long weekend in Gulgong, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Henry Lawson, one of Australia's best loved poets and writer of short stories, was born in Grenfell, and he lived in Gulgong for a time as a child.
unearthed Art Prize
Held annually, this Gulgong Arts Council event encourages artists from near and far to compete for generous prize money. Works are exhibited and sold in Gulgong's Memorial Hall throughout the June long weekend.
Mudgee Classic
The annual Mudgee classic cycling event now incorporates Gulgong into its route, allowing for cyclists to resupply during the event. [27]
Gulgong Show
The Gulgong show is a regional agricultural festival attracting over 3500 participants and spectators each year. The show hosts a large number of livestock, arts, food and craft competitions. [28]

Notable people



  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (28 June 2022). "Gulgong (suburb and locality)". Australian Census 2021 QuickStats. Retrieved 28 June 2022.  
  2. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (28 June 2022). "Gulgong". 2021 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 16 June 2024.  
  3. ^ Prince of Wales Opera House, Gulgong Archived 22 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Phillip Cox & Wesley Stacey (1973), Historic Towns of Australia, Melbourne, Lansdowne, p.82. ISBN 0701801840
  5. ^ Cox & Stacey, p.82
  6. ^ a b Cox & Stacey, p.84
  7. ^ Anthony Trollope (1874), New South Wales and Queensland, London, Chapman & Hall, p.67
  8. ^ Museum of Australian Currency Notes: Australia's First Decimal Currency Notes Archived 22 August 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Gulgong - New South Wales - Australia - Travel -". 8 February 2004. Archived from the original on 14 September 2007. Retrieved 20 September 2007.
  10. ^ Bradshaw, Richard, "Merlin, Henry Beaufoy (1830–1873)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, retrieved 30 August 2020
  11. ^ Yong Yi Zhen (10 November 2018). "Fossils in Talbragar, NSW". The Australian Museum. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  12. ^ "New Miocene Fossil Find in Australia | GeoRarities". 28 January 2022. Retrieved 28 January 2022.
  13. ^ "21. Historical Censuses (Pre 1996)". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Archived from the original on 16 June 2024. Retrieved 10 May 2024.
  14. ^ "Gulgong Historical Society receives $9,000 in funding". Mudgee Guardian. 10 May 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  15. ^ Special publication (24 October 2019). "Discover the delights of Gulgong's Holtermann Museum". Mudgee Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  16. ^ NSW, Galleries (11 November 2019). "Gulgong Holtermann Museum". MGNSW. Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  17. ^ "Gulgong Musical and Dramatic Society Inc". Gulgong Musical and Dramatic Society Inc. Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  18. ^ "Prince Of Wales Opera House". Prince Of Wales Opera House. Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  19. ^ "Hobsons Shops Golden West Trading Post". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H00402. Retrieved 18 May 2018.   Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  20. ^ "The Greatest Wonder of the World and American Tobacco Warehouse and Fancy Goods Emporium". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H01983. Retrieved 18 May 2018.   Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  21. ^ "Gulgong railway bridge over Wialdra Creek". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H01038. Retrieved 18 May 2018.   Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  22. ^ "Gulgong Railway Station and yard group". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H01158. Retrieved 18 May 2018.   Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  23. ^ "MID-WESTERN REGIONAL LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL PLAN 2012 - SCHEDULE 5". Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  24. ^ Paine, Sam. "Clay festival to be thrown in Gulgong". Mudgee Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 May 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  25. ^ "Clay Gulgong". Arts OutWest. 22 March 2022. Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  26. ^ Official Website of the Gulgong Folk Festival
  27. ^ "Home". Mudgee Classic. 10 April 2022. Retrieved 10 April 2022.
  28. ^ Mobbs, Jay-Anna (22 February 2022). "More than 3000 head to the 134th annual Gulgong Show". Mudgee Guardian. Retrieved 10 April 2022.

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