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Millthorpe, NSW

Important historic village classified by the National Trust

Millthorpe is a picturesque and historic village set amidst gently rolling hills. It is classified by the National Trust and, because it is not on a main thoroughfare, it has managed to avoid being overdeveloped and has retained a certain, 19th century charm. It is a village held in historic aspic with its cobbled, bluestone-bordered streets juxtaposed against a sense of modernity contained in its quality restaurants, galleries,  and craft shops. It has found a balance between 21st century sophistication and 19th century gracefulness. Not surprisingly it has attracted city dwellers and artists seeking an escape to a quieter and more sedate rural lifestyle while still enjoying good coffee, good food and the attractions which a large city can offer.

Location

Millthorpe is located 240 km north-west of Sydney via Katoomba and Lithgow and 41 km west of Bathurst. It is 965 m above sea level.

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Origin of Name

The town was originally named Spring Grove but the name was changed because in 1882 a flour mill was built to service the surrounding area. The name became "Mill" with "thorpe" added to produce Millthorpe. "Thorp" is a Middle English word meaning village or hamlet.

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Things to See and Do

Historic Buildings in Victoria and Pym Streets
Millthorpe's commercial area was extended after the depression of the 1890s and many of its largely brick buildings date from that period. The town's decline after World War I meant that it was spared redevelopment and consequently many of its buildings have survived with very little alteration.

The best way to experience Victoria and Pym Streets, which have a total of 31 historic buildings between William Street and the Railway Station, is to download the Millthorpe Historic Points of Interest flyer (http://www.millthorpevillage.com.au) and, starting at the former Doctor's Residence (No.2) known as Braeside Manor (built c. 1880 as a doctor's surgery and residence, it has been restored and tastefully decorated), head down Victoria Street to the centre of town past the School of Arts (1897), the former Post Office Residence (1894), the Post Office (1927), cross over to the Public School (1876) and then past the Commercial Hotel (1877), look across to the original Bank of New South Wales (1887) and so on until you reach the Millthorpe Railway Station (1886) which, interestingly, sits at the highest point on the railway line between the Blue Mountains and the Indian Ocean at Perth.

It is hard to imagine a greater concentration of 19th century buildings and the unique charm of the two streets is that they have been held in aspic. You could be walking down the street on a sunny day in 1900.

Of additional and special interest are:

Rosebank
Located at the corner of Victoria and Park Streets, Rosebank Guesthouse is one of the town's finest buildings. It was the former Bank of New South Wales and manager's residence. It was built of stuccoed brick in a Late Victorian Free Classical style with the original bank being built in 1887 and the more recent bank being completed in 1902.

Grand Western Lodge
On the corner of Montgomery Street and Victoria Street is the former Grand Western Lodge Hotel (1901), an imposing two-storey brick structure with two-storey veranda, cast-iron balustrades, an enormous stuccoed central parapet, pictorial leadlight glazing and keyhole windows.

Golden Memories Museum
Located at 37-39 Park Street and open on weekends from 10.00 am, Millthorpe's Golden Memories Museum is located in the old Good Templars Hall (1881) and has been a museum since 1965. The museum's brochure proudly explains that it has exhibits from the town's social history; an excellent display of historic rural equipment including hay and chaff cutting equipment; a unique exhibition about the local Wiradjuri Aboriginal people; a working blacksmith's forge and the story of the discovery of gold by John Lister in 1851. It is now recognised that Lister and the Tom brothers discovered gold before Edward Hargraves and are therefore the true "founding fathers" of Australia's goldrushes. The museum includes the old Trunkey Creek gold stamper and John Lister's gold fossicking pick. There is also the Cadia Theatrette which records the history of the Cardia Valley from early copper and iron mining to today's huge Newcrest operation. There is a downloadable brochure available at http://www.millthorpevillage.com.au/ or tel: (02) 6366 3980.

John Lister's Grave
Located in the Anglican section of Millthorpe Cemetery is the grave of John Lister who, with Edward Hargraves, successfully panned gold-bearing gravel at the future site of Ophir in February, 1851. Lister, with the brothers William Tom and James Tom, spotted gold in a rock crevice in April. They dug it out with a knife and then sifted the ground. They produced 113 grams in all. It was the first payable gold discovery and it triggered the first goldrush in Australia. Edward Hargraves claimed the credit (and the fame) but it really should have gone to Lister and the Tom brothers.

Walks Around Town
The useful Millthorpe Walks Brochure (downloadable at http://www.millthorpevillage.com.au) lists and provides directions for three walks around town.

1. Village/Country Walk - 3 km - 40 mins - which includes the Cemetery, Great Western Lodge and Rosebank Guesthouse.
2. Railway Walk - 2 km - 25 mins - which includes the Railway Station, Pym Street Shops, Great Western Lodge and Rosebank Guesthouse.
3. Village/Country Walk - 3km - 40 mins - which passes most of the town's historic churches.

Lookout
Head up Victoria Street and then turn into William Street (where Braeside Manor is)  and make your way to the top of the hill. There are fine views over Millthorpe and the local area and it is possible to see Mount Canobolas in the distance.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Forest Reefs
The charming rural hamlet of Forest Reefs lies 10 km west of town and is a former gold mining village which retains an historic centre with some old churches and other buildings, including the Forest Reefs Tavern which was once one of six hotels in the town.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area was the home to people from the Wiradjuri Aboriginal language group.

* The earliest European settlement in the district occurred when a government stock station was established in 1823.

* The town, known initially as Spring Grove, was based on a land grant originally known as 'Grove Farm' which was made to convict overseer Charles Booth in 1834. The explorer Thomas Mitchell stayed at Grove Farm twice when he passed through the area on his inland expeditions.

* By the 1860s there were orchards in the district.

* In 1867 the Church of England built a slab and bark schoolhouse.

* In 1869 William Webb arrived to become the local schoolmaster. He stayed for 30 years.

* The arrival of the railway in 1877 did much to boost the local economy.

* A large flour mill was built in 1882.

* In 1884, by a vote of 38 to 31, the town's name was changed from 'Spring Grove' to Millthorpe.

* The railway station was completed in 1886.

* By the 1900s Millthorpe was known throughout New South Wales for the flour, peas and potatoes it sent by rail to Sydney.

* Today the town attracts tourists with its superb display of beautifully preserved 19th century buildings.

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Visitor Information

The village has no dedicated Visitor Information Centre but all the relevant brochures can be downloaded from the website. The brochures are also available outside the news agency in Pym Street.

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Useful Websites

There is an excellent local website - http://www.millthorpevillage.com.au/ - where it is possible to download a number of brochures including the local visitor guide.

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Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

9 suggestions
  • You forgot the Wine tastings! Four wineries have their cellar doors within walking distance of each other.

    Aida Pottinger
    • No, Aida (love that Verdi name), I didn’t forget. When I did this 25 years ago we included all the vineyards (address, opening times, specialist areas) and it became a nightmare. So this time around I have quite consciously not included vineyards, cellar doors or wineries … although I am very happy for you to give them a plug.

      Bruce Elder
  • http://www.gerryscommercialhotel.com.au No Pokies, No TV’s , NO Tab, just good old-fashioned chat and great beer and food. The warmest pub in NSW and our steaks are legendary.

    Gerry Faulkner
  • There’s a quirky guesthouse http://www.redagape.com.au that sleeps 11 located in the heart of Millthorpe for those looking for accommodation for larger groups. 🙂

    Amanda O'Sullivan
  • Great place to stay in Millthorpe is Stebel. Loved our stay in Millthorpe and Stebel was the icing – so nice. http://www.stebelatmillthorpe.com.au/. Had so many great places to choose from. Lots of places to eat and things to do. We visited Tonic and the Old Mill Cafe; also visited a few wineries. Millthorpe also has many little shops. My favourite was Tomolly.

    freya marks
  • My parents managed the Railway Hotel 1981-87. Beautiful doesn’t quite get there. The land! the town! takes you to another time … Don’t think about it, do it, they just don’t make towns like this anymore …

    Scott Andrews
  • You forgot the food. I had lived in Millthorpe, my whole life and I am yet to find a cafe as good as the Old Mill.

    True. I ate there only three weeks ago … and the cakes and pastries are truly out of this world.

    Eleanor Smith
  • In the history, you forgot that last year Millthorpe turned 150 and to mention the marvellous food.

    Eleanor Clark
  • Whereabouts is Grove Farm actually located on a map? I went there 43 years ago with the Kingham boys, but can’t seem to find where it is / was!!
    Cheers,
    Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon