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Although gold was discovered in Baker's Creek gorge as early as 1857, it was not until the late 1870's that important mining was undertaken. The town of Hillgrove grew rapidly during the 1880's and 1890's in response to the expanding production of the mining companies. At its peak in about 1898, the town's population numbered close to 3 000, and was unusual for a mining settlement in that there was a close balance between the numbers of men and women. Hillgrove boasted six hotels, four churches, two schools, a school of arts, a hospital, several banks, a stock exchange, a court house, police station and a cordial factory. It was lit by hydro-electricity in 1895. Residents could read the local paper - The Hillgrove Guardian, play cricket on the Recreation Ground, attend the races, the Technical College, Debating Society or the Temperance League.
Hillgrove began to decline after 1900. The difficulties and expense of its deep underground workings led investors and miners to seek more profitable ventures elsewhere. By the 1920's most of the town's buildings were being dismantled and relocated to Armidale and other centers on the tablelands. The Post Office and school are the only substantial buildings which remain. The school buildings are now used to house the Hillgrove Rural Life and Industry Museum, giving the visitor a view into the rich heritage of the past.
Today, gold and antimony is still being mined and this sustains the small settlement. The residents of Hillgrove are keenly aware and immensely proud of their settlement's rich heritage.
If you know of a local history site that services this community but is not listed here, or would like to use this site to promote your local history, please Email us (using the button at the bottom of this page) and let us know the details, including the community to which you are referring.
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