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Environment, Government NSW

Link to a bygone era from the comfort of home

NSW Department of Planning and Environment 2 mins read
Craigmoor House: Photo John Spencer/DPE

History lovers can take a virtual step back in time and experience life in a gold rush-era Hill End homestead thanks to a new online experience by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

The immersive digital experience allows anyone to explore Craigmoor House, a 148-year-old time capsule filled with the original colonial furnishings and belongings of its original owners, the Marshall family.

“Craigmoor House is the grandest historic residence in Hill End, which boasted 8,000 residents during the 1870s gold rush but was left with only 700 locals when the gold rush ended,” said Learna Benson, NPWS Senior Historic Site Officer.

“When you walk into Craigmoor, there are still bonnets and bags from the Marshall women hanging on hooks on the wall, and an array of books, magazines, glasses and crockery the family used are still in their places. It’s like visiting a home where the occupants have vanished but all of their belongings remain.

Because these objects are delicate and are undergoing historic collections cataloguing we aren’t able to have physical visitors at present but this new virtual tour opens the door to the home anytime to explore its fascinating historical treasures and learn about life in the 19th century gold-mining town.”

Craigmoor House is listed on the State Heritage Register and has been conserved by NPWS.

Located in the state’s central-west, Hill End Historic Site features streetscapes and buildings that are little changed since the town’s goldmining heyday.

The interactive virtual tour tells the story of Craigmoor House and its inhabitants through photos, historic information and audio, including interviews with Marshall family descendants.

“Listening to the stories from descendants of the original owners as you guide yourself through the house at your own pace lets visitors really feel what it was like to live during those times,” said Ms Benson. “The Marshall family lived in Craigmoor House until 1950 and they have left behind a rich legacy that has preserved this era’s way of life for future generations.”

The free virtual tour can be accessed via the NPWS website.


Golden past

  • Hill End flourished during the 1870s gold rush.
  • When the gold rush ended at the turn of the century much of the population left.
  • James Marshall arrived in Hill End aged 27 after an unsuccessful stint in the Californian gold fields.
  • James Marshall built two-storey Craigmoor House in 1875.
  • He and his wife Sarah had 11 children.
  • Sarah’s father, James Adams, also moved to Hill End and discovered the area’s rich gold reef, Hawkins Hill.
  • The grand residence was inspired by the Duke of Elgin’s hunting lodge in Scotland.
  • Hill End Historic Site has 66 heritage structures still standing and is listed on the State Heritage Register.

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