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.
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 MR4X4.com.au 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.
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.