First settled by Europeans in the 1840s, the region surrounding Orange was the site of the first payable gold discovered in Australia in the 1850s. There are a number of charming and historic goldrush-era villages to discover, such as Borenore, Byng and Millthorpe.
This has also been home to the Wiradjuri nation for many thousands of years, with a rich cultural tradition and many sacred sites. We would like to acknowledge the Wiradjuri people as the traditional custodians of this land and pay our respects to the elders – past, present and future – for holding the memories, traditions, culture and hopes of this place.
Australian pioneer, William Charles Wentworth, is recorded as the first European settler of the Borenore area in the 1820s, with the original village being established in the 1860s which soon grew to become a large settlement. The European settlers retained the Wiradjuri name for the area, ‘Bora Nora’, which refers to the nearby initiation ceremony grounds (Bora) and the overhanging rock (Nora) under which the ceremonies were held at the nearby sacred Borenore Caves.
Driving along the gumtree-lined country laneways of Borenore will give you a real feel for regional Australia, both it’s European history and rich cultural Indigenous heritage. While there doesn’t seem to be much there today on first glance, there are very real hidden gems tucked away with some of Australia’s top winemakers, food producers, orchardists, craft beer brewers, cider makers, restaurateurs and boutique accommodation providers calling it home. Let us help you discover it all.
The first payable gold in Australia was discovered in Byng in the 1850s. The area was first established in 1829 by two Cornish settlers, Parson William Tom Senior and George Hawke, and other Cornish families swiftly followed to join them so it was known as The Cornish Settlement until the village was renamed Byng in 1852. George was the person responsible for bringing Byng’s delightful variety of English trees and colourful hawthorn bushes to the valley, which line the country roads and laneways and must have helped the new settlers feel a little more at home.
Byng’s pioneering settlers established copper mines in the area, until gold was discovered in its surrounding rivers and hills. Two local Cornish lads, John Lister and William Tom Junior, were taught how to ‘cradle’ for gold at Sheep Station Creek, just below where Byng’s Wesleyan Chapel now stands. They eventually found gold in February 1851 at a nearby spot which became known as Ophir, and one of Australia’s most memorable goldrushes was born.
Much to the consternation of the families and relatives of the Cornish men who discovered it, history has incorrectly recorded that Edward Hargraves (an Englishman) was ‘Australia’s First Discoverer of Gold’. Byng and its former residents seem to have never recovered from the disappointment, and now all that remains of the once bustling village is a quaint sandstone church and pioneer cemetery, and the abandoned wild hawthorn-lined laneways.
Established in the bustling goldrush-era of the 1850s, the charming and well-preserved pioneering village of Millthorpe retains its legacy of grand buildings, heritage architecture and a streetscape that has remained unchanged for more than 100 years. Today, it’s filled with boutique lifestyle stores, cafes, cellar doors and a hatted restaurant. You’ll never want to leave.