Sofala, New South Wales

Sofala is a village in New South Wales, Australia, 255 kilometres (158 mi) north-west of Sydney, within Bathurst Regional Council. It is located beside the Turon River. Sofala is just off the Bathurst-Ilford Road, with only local traffic through the town itself. At the 2006 census, Sofala had a population of 208.[1]

New South Wales
Sofala Denison Street 003.JPG
Denison Street, the unusually narrow main street of Sofala
Sofala is located in New South Wales
Coordinates33°04′50″S 149°41′35″E / 33.08056°S 149.69306°E / -33.08056; 149.69306Coordinates: 33°04′50″S 149°41′35″E / 33.08056°S 149.69306°E / -33.08056; 149.69306
Population208 (2006 census)[1]
LGA(s)Bathurst Regional Council
State electorate(s)Bathurst
Federal Division(s)Calare


Turon River Near Sofala

Sofala came about as a direct result of the gold rush which had been spurred on when Edward Hargraves discovered gold at Summerhill Creek on 12 February 1851. By June of that year, thousands of people had set up mining operations in the valley, and both the Royal Hotel and a general store were built in 1851 to handle the increased demand. Initially, gold was found in the area known as Gold Point on the Turon River. When the alluvial gold ran out, mining turned to quartz reef mining.[2] The town was a centre of opposition to the gold licensing system in New South Wales at the time. A considerable proportion of the miners were Chinese.[3]

Sofala Public School was established in 1878.[4] There was an Anglican church and a Catholic convent.[5] The Convent opened in 1872 and closed in 1909, although it was a church until 1970.[6]

The Gas Hotel was one of the first two hotels licensed, in 1851.[6] The Royal Hotel was established in 1862.[6] There were also two other hotels in 1866, Sofala Inn and Barley Mow. The Barley Mow having a Cobb and Co booking office.[6]

Now a private residence, the Post Office and telegraph office, built in 1879 operated until 1989.[6]

Attractions today include the gold-rush-era Sofala Royal Hotel[7] and the old gaol. Small-scale gold workings are still active in the town. Sofala has been reported to be the oldest surviving gold-rush town in Australia. There are still gold prospectors who pass the time using metal detectors, gold pans, and sluice boxes to recover small quantities of gold dust.

Popular cultureEdit

Russell Drysdale's painting Sofala, a depiction of the main street of the town, won the Wynne Prize for 1947.[8]

The 1974 Peter Weir film The Cars That Ate Paris was filmed in the town. Village scenes in the 1994 John Duigan film Sirens were also filmed in Sofala.

A noted business is Finglinna Studios, which supplies stained glass to churches and other public buildings.[9]


Heritage listingsEdit

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


  • Prospecting
  • Authentic Gold Rush era establishments

e.g The Sofala Royal Hotel (est.1862)

  • Walk along the Turon River
  • Cycle
  • Historical walks and tours
  • Riverside campsites
  • Old Gaol museum/cafe/accommodation[12]
  • Turon Technology Museum[13]
  • Tanwarra Lodge luxury accommodation[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Sofala (State Suburb)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  2. ^ Mudgee District History: Sofala; Sofala, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 Dec 2008.
  3. ^ B. Hickson, Chinese in Sofala, Mudgee History.
  4. ^ Sofala Public School.
  5. ^ Mudgee District History: Churches in Sofala
  6. ^ a b c d e The Village of Sofala
  7. ^ Sofala Royal Hotel
  8. ^ "Sofala". Collection. Art Gallery of New South Wales. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  9. ^ Finglinna Studios
  10. ^ "Grave of Windradyne". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01714. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Bridge over Turon River at Wallaby Rocks". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01458. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  12. ^ Old Sofala Gaol
  13. ^ Turon Technology Museum
  14. ^ Tanwarra Lodge

Further readingEdit

  • Higgins, Matthew Gold & Water: A History of Sofala and the Turon Goldfield (1990), ISBN 9781875385003

External linksEdit

  Media related to Sofala, New South Wales at Wikimedia Commons