The Hill End Artists in Residence Program has its genesis in August 1947 when Donald Friend and Russell Drysdale made a trip to explore to the former gold rush towns of Sofala and Hill End. Friend was so engaged by the character of Sofala and Hill End, that he eventually bought a little cottage in Hill End now called Murrays Cottage and lived there with his partner Donald Murray for a number of years.
Drysdale visited regularly, as did Margaret Olley, Jean Bellette, Paul Haefliger, David Strachan and Jeffrey Smart. Eventually Jean Bellette and Paul Haefliger bought a cottage which is now known as Haefligers in the town. These artists are often referred to as the ‘first wave’ of Hill End artists.
In 1999, under the auspices of Bathurst City Council and Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, the Hill End Artists in Residence Program was officially launched.