My partner Rob and I headed west to the historic New South Wales village of Hartley in the days before Covid. We wanted to visit the Talisman Gallery, in the hope of finding an iron sculpture for a eucalypt tree stump in our garden. I had in mind an orb sundial or similar.


Golden wattle was in full flower at Little Hartley.

Wattle and barbed wire enroute to Hartley.

The following is an extract from a piece in the Sydney Morning Herald on the journey from Parramatta to Bathurst via the mail coach. It’s dated April 3 1856.

We arrived at Hartley on the evening of the second days’ travel. The township is divided. Little Hartley lies nearly at the foot of Mount Victoria, and Hartley is located about two miles further on the Western Road. The first mentioned place is the largest, consisting of two or three public houses and smithies, and six or seven substantial dwellings. Hartley itself, however, can boast of a Court-house, and a Roman Catholic place of worship.

Here we terminated our journey. To Bathurst is another day’s jolting. The fact was rather astounding that although we were only some eighty miles from Sydney, we were two days behind the Sydney age, having brought with us the latest intelligence! How is it possible that Australia, with all her treasures, her pastoral and agricultural resources, can make rapid strides towards a glorious nationality with such obstacles in the way of internal communication.

Yes, well … way and another ‘internal communication’ remains a vexed question 150 years on.

Gorgeous prunus was blossoming outside the Royal Hotel in Hartley itself. This Hotel was a stopping point for the Cobb & Co. coaches on that jolting journey to Bathurst and beyond. What a busy place it must have been during the days of the Gold Rush.

A gorgeous prunus  blossoms outside the old Royal Hotel at Hartley.

The Royal also provided a welcome break on the famous Coo-ee recruitment march, during WWI.

The Royal Hotel at Hartley was a stop on the Coo-ee, WWI recruitment march.

The Shamrock Inn is another survivor from those early days.

The Shamrock In at Hartley.
Shamrock Inn at Hartley

We called at the Talisman Gallery, but couldn’t find exactly what we were after. Mind you, Ron Fitzpatrick is a creative genius. He says he is inspired by daily meditation before beginning work at his anvil.


Of course, nothing can beat nature’s own sculpture. This magnificent outcrop is in the paddock adjacent to the Gallery.

Nature's sculpture at Hartley, beside the Talisman Gallery.

On the way home we called at the Mount Boyce nursery for some plants and spotted this sweet little native bee house. Until we find our permanent, cast iron ornament it will decorate the tree stump.

Sweet bee hotel for our tree stump.

There were some dramatic incidents on the mail coaches. To read about some of them, CLICK HERE.

  1. Enjoyed reading this – and catching up with the mail coach stories. Fascinating to read about travel in the days before railways – what a challenge for all concerned, particularly the poor horses. Looking at the present photos again, it’s good that the old buildings have been kept as a reminder of those distant days.

    • Pauline

      Thanks Ann. Yes, we have lost a great deal of our heritage. Admittedly those early buildings were often pretty fragile to begin with.

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.