Tanwarra Lodge, Sofala review: Fossickers welcome

Read our writer's views on this property below

Bruce Elder strikes it lucky at a family-run lodge in the Turon Valley.

Tanwarra Lodge came about by accident. Seeking land on which to build, Warren Hill found a beautiful parcel by the Turon River on Hill End Road, near Sofala. Hill, an electrician, built a cabin to stay in while he completed work on his new home.

That was 14 years ago. With the house finished, Hill started to build a larger home for himself and his wife, Sue. When the publican of Sofala's Royal Hotel phoned to ask if the cabin could be used as a place to house extra hotel guests, Warren Hill found himself in the accommodation business.

After the second house was built, the first was divided and the results are impressive: upstairs is the Loft Suite; downstairs is the Riverview Room, as well as a shared kitchen, lounge and verandah. The lounge room has a large open fire, the kitchen is spacious and the verandah has tables, chairs and a big barbecue. Nearby is an enclosed spa surrounded by gumtrees.

And then we ate Sue has set up a "restaurant" at Tanwarra specialising in pizzas. Toppings include a pumpkin, pine nut and ricotta pizza alongside the traditional margherita and meat-lovers menu. Sue also offers home-cooked meals. So we dine one night on exceptionally good pizzas (light crust, plenty of toppings) and one night it's "hotpot". Guests who bring their own supplies will find the lodge kitchen is fully self-contained, with adequate crockery and cutlery. Sue offers to cook a hot breakfast, but we opt for a complimentary continental breakfast basket with juice, cereal, fruit, bread, butter, jam and plunger coffee.

The deal maker Visitors to Sofala and Hill End will find the lodge a genuinely friendly destination, with the Hills offering relaxed and non-intrusive "home away from home" hospitality. With views across river and valley, it's a peaceful stay.

Stepping out Hill End, 32 kilometres away, is worth at least a day of close exploration. The town's well-preserved buildings - and weather-resistant images displayed at key spots - make it one of the best goldmining experiences in Australia. You can stand at any spot in Hill End and imagine what it must have been like when 12,000 people lived there. An excellent round trip is the drive from Hill End to Hargraves, then to Windeyer (once home to thousands, now with a pub and a general store) and back to Sofala. Visitors interested in trying their hand at gold prospecting should read Malcolm Drinkwater's Fossickers Guide, as it explains the basics of panning and mineral detecting (it is available at most stores in the area). The Turon River below Tanwarra is known for its trout-fishing prospects.

Weekends Away are reviewed anonymously and paid for by Traveller.


Tanwarra Lodge


Address 324 Hill End Road, Sofala.

The verdict Comfortable and quiet, with easy access to the central west's historic gold towns.

Price Loft Suite costs $160 a double a night; Riverview Room $145; Riverside Cabin $135. The tariff includes continental breakfast.

Bookings Phone 6337 7537; see tanwarralodge.com, stayz.com .au/86120.

Getting there Take the Great Western Highway towards Bathurst, turn right at Kelso on to Sofala Road. At Sofala, turn left into Hill End Road and continue for four kilometres. From Lithgow, drivers can also take the Mudgee turnoff (Castlereagh Highway), and head to Sofala from Ilford.

Perfect for Exploring the goldfields, visiting Hill End, fishing.

Wheelchair access Yes, the Riverview Room.

While you're there Explore Sofala's pub and cafes; visit Hill End's History Hill Museum. See historyhill.com.au.