Even though you can no longer traverse the Bridle track all the way from Hill End to Bathurst it still makes for a great driving and camping experience along the banks of the Turon and Macquarie Rivers. The track has been closed at Monaghans Bluff due to a rock fall back in 2010. The track remains open both north and south of this section.
Originally connecting the historic gold mining ghost town of Hill End with the first inland city west of the Great Dividing Range, Bathurst there are numerous camping reserves dotted along its fifty odd kilometres as it winds its way through the picturesque Turon River Valley. Pleasant grassed camping spots beside the once prosperous Turon and Macquarie Rivers make for a refreshing dip on a hot day or if you are feeling lucky try your hand at prospecting, who knows you may even strike it rich like the many hopefuls in days gone by.
The Bridle track gains its name as it was the horse route used by stockmen in the early 1800s. It wasn’t until the 1850s following the discovery of gold in the Turon Valley and the subsequent establishment of the Turon Goldfields that the Bridle Track became a much traversed route for those wishing to strike it rich. Flocks of miners trudged their way along and up the mountain all in the hope of prosperity that for many remained a dream. The hard work our early pioneers endured in carving out this amazing road from solid rock is simply astounding.
The Bathurst end of the Bridle Track starts off as a narrow sealed road and it is a pleasant run through lush, green, rolling hills and open farming country. The gravel starts just before you enter the Macquarie Turon Parkway and begin to meander along the Macquarie River then into the Turon Valley. It is not long before arriving at the first of several camping reserves beside the Macquarie River.
The Monaghans Bluff section of the track is now closed to vehicles but you are still able to walk some of this section of the track and marvel at the sheer vertical drops and steep rock cliffs.
There are many more camping reserves on the Hill End side of Monaghans Bluff. The track from the historic gold mining ghost town of Hill End is a steep, narrow and winding gravel track down to the valley floor. Once at the bottom there are a couple of camping reserves and an old battery stamper to check out. After stretching the legs you cross the Turon River via the concrete causeway which is usually little more than a splash. Keep in mind that following heavy, persistent rainfall the causeway crossing may become impassable. The signs at the crossing indicate that if the river is over 0.2 metres above the causeway do not cross. Be aware that the river here can be fast flowing so if you are unsure whether it is safe to cross err on the side of caution and return the way you came.
As you trundle along the Bridle Track keep an eye out for the old mining tunnels and other abandoned relics found along the way. A couple of the old tunnels are close to the road and can be easily inspected just remember to take your torch. There are many great camping spots along this section of the track most however do not have facilities so make sure you come equipped and supplied. The family pooch is also welcome along the track.