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hill end

Lost on Root Hog Road

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Lost on Root Hog Road

Well... maybe we're not lost... not technically anyway. We are in New South Wales. We know it's a mere 20km from the old ghost town of Ophir to Hill End - as the crow flies - Ophir once a thriving frontier town and the site of Australia's first 'payable' gold strike. We leave at noon, after a 2hr bush hike among the long-abandoned diggings and shafts.

In the beginning we take the tamely-named Freemantle Rd. It's dirt, but in good enough nick. And the hard copy map shows a continuing track... the trouble being we are now facing a 'No through road' sign, and our iPad shows the road stopping at Macquarie river. 

Eventually we come to a fork in the road, and stop.  One leg heads in the general direction of the river.

We check our ipad again, and the truck GPS - the GPS with a river crossing.

But yes, this fork does 'head' for the river. But what happens when we get there remains a mystery.

A ute comes from the opposite direction - a wet stock dog in the back.

I wind down the window once the dust settles, the cheery driver "born and bred in these parts".

Will we be able to get across the river? The local scratches his chin and looks over our truck. His dog barks and wags his tail.

"Yeah... dog's been for a swim just now, and you'll make it in that. Track's a bit rough, rocky in bits... and the farmer doesn't like shooters, so sometimes shuts the gate."

A trip we expected to take maybe an hour, takes more like 3-1/2

Hindsight is a great thing, but there's definitely something ominous about a fork in the road, when the way forward is a crooked post with a sign that says 'Root Hog Road.'

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