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Bridle Track to reopen

Bridle Track to reopen

Paul Toole, the Minister for Lands and Forestry and member for Bathurst, has announced the NSW State Government will support Bathurst Regional Council in reopening the Bridle Track with a $2-million investment. The 19th-century horse and foot track once linked the goldfields of Hill End to Bathurst. The southern end has been a conventional road for a long time, but the northern, and spectacularly scenic, section from Winburndale Creek to Hill End, is an iconic track for the 4X4 enthusiast.

The Bridle Track rock fall at Monaghan's Bluff that closed the track in 2010
The Bridle Track rock fall at Monaghan’s Bluff that closed the track in 2010

A particularly narrow section of the track called Monaghan’s Bluff suffered a rock fall in 2010, effectively closing the track to through traffic. A workaround route along the Root Hog Fire Trail has since been upgraded to allow passage along an easement through a private property, but ‘it was never quite the same’.  As reported in the use of Root Hog Fire Trail has had some contention and closures itself. Notably, the river crossing was made impassible with earthmoving equipment in an attempt to stop traffic.

Reopen or realign?

One issue as explained in This Unsealed 4X4 story for Bathurst Council is the long-term viability of any works. The track has experienced a number of rockfalls in the past, and is expensive to maintain compared to more heavily trafficked roads in the region. Whether the track maintains the original alignment or is realigned to avoid the less stable sections is still to be seen. Regardless, the track is a major tourist drawcard for the camping and 4WDing community and will greatly assist Hill End and neighbouring towns to survive.

Even with road repairs, the Monaghan's Bluff section is still precarious
Even with road repairs, the Monaghan’s Bluff section is still precarious

There does not appear to be a schedule for the works to begin or be completed yet, we will certainly let you know as soon as we know anything!

Track through time

The Bridle Track is one of the few destinations in NSW that has survived the decades of recreational 4X4 touring without suffering from political closure or environmentalist abuse. There are plenty of fantastic camp sites in the area, with old mines and relics to explore, with gold prospecting and fishing popular in the region too. A round trip comprising Sunny Corner to Capertee, along the Turon River and down the Bridle Track makes for a great long weekend trip not far from Sydney.

Have you driven the original alignment or the Root Hog detour? Tell us your experiences in the comments below.



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  • Definitely an enjoyable experience – but now thinking how “stupid” we were doing “that part” of Monaghans Bluff. Being with family and friends who are all 4WD enthusiasts made the difference – as the courage and their “push” helped us to drive the end-to-end trail.
    Lunch picnic in one of the empty camping sites was part of the bonding that’s keeping us together on similar adventures.

    • Is the track passable to 4WD? Heading from Hill End to Bathurst in a couple of days but only one car – are other needed for winching / guidance?

      • No.

        The boulder that was blocking the track is gone – but the slip just prior to that makes the track too narrow for a 4WD.

        It’s still passable on a bicycle or motorcycle though. Perhaps take mountain bikes and ride up?

  • On our honeymoon in 1983 we drove from Hillend to Bathurst on the Bridle Track. Unfortunate choice of vehicle was our large LWB Ford F 100. Sadly we had been advised by a young shop assistant that this was the way to go. I still think she was smirking as I walked out, when I look back. My wife spent a fair part of the trip close to tears although I tried not to appear not too nervous. It became a point of no return exercise as we didn’t know if it become even worse but by far the biggest worry, was meeting another large vehicle. However, glad to have done it, enjoyed the drive along the river didn’t realise I was retracing the steps of my ancestors at the time. Note. We have managed to remain married after that early and severe scrutiny of my judgement.

  • Just drove the full length today, what a trip…. I must be a wimp because I felt like I was risking my life along some parts…

    The road wash out up along the gorge is was to dangerous and if it does south your gone…. but saying that it was a blast… and a long drive for its length.

    Glad a can check that one of ??

  • Went on the track between sofala and turon gates after it was closed due to Lithgow council closing it. It was closed because of a litigation issue from a vehicle having its sump ripped out. The council had to reopen it because it was a fire trail. My now deceased dear Mum was with us on that journey and cried from fear the entire 4 hours it took to go 28 K’s. It was the most exhilarating journey of my life .

  • I have longed to do the Bridle Track so I am absolutely hanging for it’s re-opening !!! I’m like a fat kid waiting on a new donut shop to open LOL counting down the days ! Another one that needs to be reopened too is the fire-trail from Mount Irvine through to Bilpin…….this one has been shut for years now with a lot of buck passing from Hawkesbury Council / Blue Mountains council and the RMS – get the frigging thing open so the people of Mount Wilson have a safe exit out sin the event of catastrophic fire break out !

  • Did Root Hog rd to the Tthe Bridle track earlier this year. Local land owner showed us to the start of the bypass around the person who was giving grief to all. Was a great drive but the water levels in the rivers was very low. will go back soon. The beers at Hill End pub where very much needed.

  • I did the track back in the early ’80s in an FJ40 Yota and again in 2008 in 105 Yota and we didn’t need 4×4 at all, except for the 2008 river crossing, because the track was so well maintained. I don’t recall Monaghan’s Bluff being as narrow or scary as in the photo above. The 2008 river crossing was though with water rushing around the vehicle up to the window sills. What an adventure! The track itself is a ‘lovely drive’ as my handbrake described it and the camp spots beside the river are serene and picturesque. With the fabulous Hill End and Bathurst at either either end it makes for a fantastic few days escape. I’d love to see it reopen, on the original route preferably, or with minimal rerouting and will definitely return numerous times if it does.

  • We went up the bridle track last year as we were visiting relatives in Bathurst. The amount of rubbish and soiled nappies, toilet paper was gross. Ignored the closed signs and made our way up to the rockfall , which was really one massive boulder smack in the middle of the track. No way around it so disappointingly and a little hair raising for the wife we reversed all the way down with the wheels on occasion getting mighty close to the edge. Would love to see it re-open so we can go back and complete the loop.

  • Thank you for bringing the good news on the Bridal track.
    I was first ‘introduced’ to the Bridle Track in the early to mid-1960’s. My future (at the time) brother in law, Russell, took me there rabbit shooting. We went in his FC Holden station wagon. Perhaps a years or so later, Russell and I went, this time with another mate, Steve, in his Cortina 1500, towing a trailer. We had originally gone pig shooting, but without success, so on the way home drove along the Bridle Track after bunnies.
    Steve and I went to the Bridle Track a few times. On one occasion we stopped at the little township of Eglinton. There was a nice lady who ran a little mixed business. Said she would have ice prepared for us on our return the following Sunday evening. So we could keep chilled the rabbits we shot over the weekend.
    I can remember shooting rabbits on the other side of the river. The hill was so steep, the rabbits would roll down the hill. Then one of us would swim across and collect the rabbits on the bank.
    I also remember that was the first and only time I ever saw a Platypus in the wild.
    In the late ‘60’s, possibly 1970, I took a mate Paul rabbit shooting in my Renault R8. I remember on the way out we stopped at Hill End hotel where Paul gained a bit of money playing pub pool.
    In 2012, I bought my Ford Ranger, and in 2013 I decided to have a look at the Bridle Track. I first visited the Bathurst Visitor’s Centre. They informed me part of the track was blocked because of a land slide. I also gained the impression it wouldn’t be opened in the near future as Bathurst Council didn’t have the money to spend on it. Possibly any money would have been spent to upgrade the Mount Panorama Circuit.
    I was surprised to find out, as I drove to the Bridle Track, much had changed. It seems Bathurst has grown so much Eglinton is now an outer suburb of Bathurst.
    I was astonished to find it was a dedicated 4WD track and trailers and caravans were banned. As I soon realized my Ford Ranger is a lot wider than my R8 Renault. I was concerned about meeting someone coming the other way. I also noticed when the Bathurst Council must have changed some parts of the track because I could see where the old track had been.
    It will be nice to make and tour down memory lane again when the track is open to drive to Hill End
    I have no knowledge of the alternate route you discussed in your article.
    Take care
    Bob Meldrum

    • Bob, I enjoyed reading your experiences of visiting the Bridle Track. I, too, used to go up there in my HK Holden Panel Van (no rabbit shooting though). Very fond memories of camping beside the Macquarie and Turon Rivers and also at Hill End. I have seen platypus and water rats. Sadly, haven’t been back for more than thirty years. I will have to make the trip along the Root Hog Fire Trail, for the experience.

  • We used to regularly travel the Bridle Track in ordinary cars (Austin Tasman, Leyland P76, Mitsubishi Sigma, Commodore wagon) and either camp beside the Macquarie, or alongside the Turon after the crossing. Good fishing, freshwater shrimps in the river, yabbies in the dam up at Hill End, blackberries, quinces, figs and cooking pears to be found in the remains of an old farm orchard. Plenty of rabbits to test the bow hunting skills.

  • i remember about 35 years ago about half a dozen of us road dirt bikes from mudgee to Bathurst down the bridle track on many occasions. once when crossing the Turon it was not flowing very fast but the level of the water was just under our seats

  • I travelled the length of the Bridle Track in my Series IIA Landy, in 2000, accompanied by my then 11 years old son. I loved every minute of it the drive but my son being scared of heights, had a few bad moments looking at the scenery to his left !!!

  • I recently (June 2018) took the Root Hog road detour to Hill End. The were plenty of good camp sites, some campers and plenty of bike riders enjoying the track. It was in good condition and excellent for 4×4 with, step tracks, creek crossing (water level was low)and the rough section near Hill End. The only down point was some rubbish left by campers. Please take it with you so others can enjoy. Also take the road from Hill End out through Long Point to Orange. Good scenery a river crossing of say 30 meters and make a good weekend of it.

  • I recently (June 2017) took the Root Hog road detour through to Hill End and there were plenty of good camp sites, some campers and many bike riders. This does not prevent the experience of 4×4 with step roads, creek crossing ( the water level was low) And the rough surface of the Hill End section of the bridle track. The only disappointing thing was there have been some rubbishy left by the river by some campers. I would still recommend the experience.

  • 2012 I went to Hill End onwards to the rock slide area and back of course. What a wonderful drive, not hard but so interesting with history and great scenery just magnificent. I am from Tasmania so be on the right track and have the area made so us four wheel drives can access the Bridle Track. As if it was in Tasmania it would be closed to 4wds and turned into a mountain bike track by state government. Also a rare beetle or orchard would be growing beside the track and the greenies would rally to shut it closed.

  • A group of us went up to the bridal track every Easter & October long weekend in the 70’s for 5 or 6 years. Some of the best times were had sitting around the campfire at night & we always made the trip into Hill End in the back of the ute for a couple of beers. The view going up the mountain pass was the best. Good on the council if they get the road opened again. I will be sharing this area with my grandkids as much as possible.

    • Been camping on the Turon – along the Bridle Track Easter and or October most years since the 70s. My favourite place on earth is sitting on the banks – on the millions of smooth polished rocks along the amazing Turon up near the Chinese Diggings.
      First trip was in our mini van – when George Papallo catered for the group (we ate well).
      We still love camping there with family and friends (sometimes 4 generations!)
      Look forward to the reopening of the Bridle track..

  • Was the first to do the “Wine Highway” from Orange to Hill End, then the Bridle track back to Bathurst and Orange. The Wine Highway had the bulldozer tracks on the ground and no tyre marks to be seen when we drove it!! It is a beautiful drive, 4×4 only but not too arduous, and we all know how good the Bridle Track was!! Re-open it ASAP!!!

  • Got as far as the rockslide, July 2017, then backtracked a bit from Hill End . Brilliant part of the country. Wonderful scenery, great riverside camping. Big thumbs up if they reopened this iconic track. It makes a good weekend loop when linked to Sofala / Turon NP. Excellent family outing.

  • I lived in the Central West for three years between 2009 – 2012. I used to visit the Bridle Track at least every second weekend until it was closed. Once it closed, apart from two mountain bike trips, I never bothered going back – because truthfully it was just not the same experience. Despite the warnings, I never found the track in anything other than first class condition, and never needed 4WD. In fact, one of our group used to follow along in his old Corolla. We loved the quiet, the scenic camping & reasonable fishing.

  • Great memories of the bridle track in the mid seventies and going down to the junction of the Turon and Macquarie rivers in HG GTS Monaro .

  • Did the original track back in the 80’s in an escort panel van loaded with mates towing a trailer and my bike the Turon crossing was most memorable , one of the best weeks of my teens
    Please re-open the track

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