|Looking upstream from the
bridge over the Belubula River, Carcoar
Carcoar (including Mandurama, Lyndhurst, Junction
Reefs and Neville)
Delightful historic town with a large number of
Carcoar is a lovely little historic town with an
English-village feel which is located just off the Mid
Western Highway, 258 km west of Sydney, 52 km south-west of
Bathurst and 720 m above sea-level. It is nestled in a small
green valley around the oak-lined banks of the Belubula
River with steep hills on either side. Although it was laid
out in a regular grid pattern, the settlement has developed
along Belubula St, the steep, serpentine and charming main
street which descends from St Paul's Church and winds its
way through the settlement. The town has been classified by
the National Trust due to the number of intact 19th-century
The original occupants of the land are thought to have
been the Gundungura Aborigines and it is presumably from
their language that the town's name, meaning either 'frog'
or 'kookaburra', derives.
The first European to travel through what is now Blayney
Shire was surveyor George Evans who headed south-west from
Bathurst and camped at the head of Coombing Creek in 1815.
Unofficial occupation of the district began in 1821. The
first land grant was 'Coombing Park' issued to Thomas Icely
in 1829. In 1838 he requested that the village of Carcoar be
established to service his large pastoral estate. The
following year it became just the third settlement west of
the Blue Mountains to be gazetted.
|Looking up Belubula
Street, the main street in Carcoar
Land sales proceeded in 1840 although renegade convicts
and bushrangers were a problem. German Charley was shot to
death by Mickey Bourke while trying to prevent the theft of
a racehorse from the Coombing Park stables (Bourke is buried
near Neville). Martial law and the withdrawal of all convict
privileges were threatened in 1841. However, the capture of
the bushranger Curran and the arrival of a magistrate and
more police saw things calm down and by 1850 Carcoar had
become a banking and administrative centre and the
second-largest settlement west of the Blue Mountains, after
Nonetheless the days of the bushrangers were far from
over. In 1863, Johnny Gilbert and John O'Meally conducted
Australia's first daylight bank robbery when they held up
the Commercial Bank (still standing) but they fled
empty-handed when a teller fired a shot into the bank
ceiling to alert the town. The Reverend James Adam, an early
Presbyterian minister at Carcoar, was held up by notorious
bushranger Ben Hall but was not robbed on account of the
good impression he made. Another noted bushranger, Frank
Gardiner, worked in the area when he was granted a
ticket-of-leave with parole conditions after serving six
years for horse theft. He broke parole by leaving Carcoar
and taking up cattle duffing.
The town was negatively affected by the discovery of gold
further west in the mid-1860s. Furthermore, because Blayney
received the railway in 1874 it replaced Carcoar as the
major rural service centre in the district, particularly as
Carcoar did not receive the railway until 1888.
Nonetheless the government, foreseeing the on-going
development of the town and district, began erecting a
number of significant public buildings from the late 1870s.
The impression may have been aided by the ongoing mining of
mineral resources such as iron ore from Coombing Park which
supplied the Lithgow steelworks. However, the population was
in decline by the early 1880s.
Things to see:
Icely St is the main access road into Carcoar from the
highway. Just before the Coombing St intersection, to the
left, is the public school. The date on the bell tower
(1884) indicates the year in which the Board of Education
purchased the Carcoar Hotel (built in 1860) and used that
building as the basis for the present structure. On the
other side of the road is the old Presbyterian manse (1862).
Cross Coombing St. On the left is the former saddlery,
established in 1844 (the second storey was added in 1860).
Opposite is the town's second police station (1884) built as
a sergeant's residence. The police were first stationed at
Carcoar in 1836.
Continue along Icely St. To the left is the former
Courthouse Hotel (1870) with its neat picket fence and attic
windows. It is now a private residence. Next door is the
school of arts building (1901).
Opposite, at the Belubula St intersection, is the former
courthouse, a Victorian Classical building erected in 1882
to replace the original 1841 structure. Considered one of
James Barnet's 'best small country court houses', it is made
of brick with stuccoed pilasters and consists of a
two-storey central section with single-storey wings. There
is a fine timber colonnade to the facade and an Italianate
clock tower with heraldic shield. The verandah ironwork is
hand-forged. The interior sports an elaborate painted
frieze, fine cedar joinery and original fittings.One wing
contains Carcoar Pottery where a large range of domestic and
ornamental pottery is made by Louise Purcell. The Court
House is open on weekends, public holidays and by
arrangement. Contact 02 6367 4155.
Across Belubula St is Carcoar Antiques and Bridge Tea Room
which sells antiques and collectables, souvenirs and gifts.
It is open every day but Tuesday from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00
p.m., tel: (02) 6367 3145.
Next door to the courthouse, in Belubula St, is the post
office, a two-storey brick building dating from 1879 with
unusual ironwork to the upper floor (the single-storey
structure at the front is a later addition).
Opposite the post office, and adjacent the Royal Hotel, is a
typical 19th-century general store which is the main tourist
information centre for the town, tel: (02) 6367 3085. They
can furnish you with a pamphlet outlining a walking tour
which takes in the town's historic buildings. In case you
arrive when they are not open there is a map of the town and
its sights posted up by the general store. Alternatively you
can enquire at the post office (02 6367 3077) or the antique
Firearms Museum and Two Hotels
Next to the post office is the former CBC Bank, a Classical
Revival building designed by G.A. Mansfield and built in
1877 of rendered brick with a detailed facade and cedar
joinery. It now houses the Firearms Technology Museum which
is open by appointment, tel: (02) 6367 3154.
Adjacent is the former Bakers Hotel (1879). One end of
the single-storey terrace next door still bears a sign
indicating its former life as the Commercial Hotel (1863).
Parts of the original shingled roof can still be seen.
|The old Commercial Bank
Building (1862) in Belubula Street
Old Commercial Bank
Next is a private residence called 'Daylesford'. It was
originally built as a home. In the 1860s it was rented to
the Commercial Bank. In 1863, the famous bushranger Johnny
Gilbert, accompanied by John O'Meally, held up the bank.
This robbery has the dubious distinction of being
Australia's first daylight bank robbery. Unfortunately for
Gilbert and O'Meally a brave teller grabbed a gun and fired
a shot into the bank ceiling. The shot was heard around the
town and the robbers fled empty-handed. Over the road is the
former City Bank (1886), a three-storey red-brick building.
St Paul's and Rectory
Further along Belubula St, on the same side of the road, is
the former Anglican rectory, designed by noted architect
Edmund Blacket and built in 1849. It is a two-storey Gothic
brick building with stone window trims and ornate timber
bargeboards. Gabled dormer windows indicate the presence of
attic rooms, built for the parson to conduct a private
school, to supplement his income.
Up the hill is St Paul's Anglican Church, a small Gothic
Revival structure, also designed by Blacket. It was built of
brick and sandstone with a slate roof between 1845 and 1848,
making it the second-oldest church west of the Blue
Mountains. The unusual crossing tower and steeple date from
1874. The interior is essentially in original condition,
including the brick sanctuary floor, the sandstone font and
the family pew of original European settlers, the Icelys
(Thomas Icely paid for the church).
A little further up the road is a single-storey brick
building that was originally the New Criterion Inn. Its
position indicates that this was the original access road
into Carcoar. It is possible to see the cellar trapdoor in
the pavement out the front of the building.
The next crossroad is Coombing St. On the corner is the
Church of the Immaculate Conception built in 1870. It has a
slim stone bellcote and spire and retains its original
cooling system which consists of wall cavities through which
air passes into outlets in the window sills. Next door is
the former convent (1874), built by the same architect.
Turn into Coombing St heading back to Icely St. En route you
will pass the driveway to Blenheim Hall, built in 1859 of
plastered random stone with a separate kitchen wing. It is
difficult to see from the roadside.
Further along Coombing St is the simple form of St James
Presbyterian Church set picturesquely on the hillside. It
was built in 1861 during the tenure of the Reverend James
Adam who was held up by notorious bushranger Ben Hall but
allowed to pass no poorer on account of the good impression
If you turn right into Icely St and follow it across the
river you will pass, on the right, a picnic-barbecue area
and, at the corner of Stokes Lane, the Old Bakery Gallery
which specialises in antique porcelain. They are open six
days a week., tel: (02) 6367 3100.
The old and attractive stone building on the other side
of Stokes Lane is the Stokes Stable Museum, erected by
convict labour in 1849. It contains a modest display
relating to local history. The museum is frequently but
irregularly open so it may be best to make an appointment if
you're interested, tel: (02) 6367 3154.
Down the road and around the corner is a single-storey
brick residence with dormer windows originally built in 1862
for John Fagan who was the coach driver during the infamous
gold-escort robbery at
Return to Naylor St and turn right. On either side of this
road are the former Stoke Hotel (1880), a two-storey
structure, and the single-storey station master's residence
(1888). The side road leads to the railway station, built to
a Gothic design in 1888 and closed in 1974.
The two-storey red-brick building diagonally opposite the
stationmaster's residence is the former Victoria Hotel
(1878). Next door, near the caravan park, is the old flour
Further along Naylor St, to the left, is 'Dalebrook', an
elegant two-storey residence with period furnishings built
in 1880 for a local baker.
Mount Macquarie Rd is unsealed and unsuitable in wet
weather. It heads off Naylor St and passes through state
forests to the mountain which is snow-covered in winter.
Coombing Park was the original land grant in the area, made
out to Thomas Icely in 1826. It was to service his estate
that the town of Carcoar was created in 1839. At the time
the station was harangued by bushrangers such as Mickey
Bourke who shot an employee to death while stealing a
racehorse from the estate's stables. Icely originally ran
the estate with the aid of 62 convicts who built the
original homestead and outbuildings between 1838 and 1842.
The original shearing shed survives, and the stables, which
date from 1848.
Icely's original cottage was replaced by a large,
elegant, single-storey brick villa designed by G.A.
Mansfield and built in 1900. The property had been
purchased, in 1881, by the Cobb & Co coaching company and
occupied by Cobb & Co partner William Franklin Whitney. His
descendants still own the property, which retains Cobb & Co
To get to the estate continue west along the highway,
past the Carcoar turnoff, for about 5 km. A private road
heads off the highway to the left. The gatehouse can be seen
from the highway but little else. If you wish to see more
ring the owners on (02) 6367 3021.
Mandurama is located 7 km west of Carcoar on the Mid Western
Highway. It began, in the mid-19th century, as a village for
the workers on the Icely estate and developed into a service
centre for the surrounding farmlands. There is an hotel, a
general store and a BP Service Station, which can all
furnish tourist information. Apart from the hotel, the
masonic hall, the churches and bank premises are of historic
interest. Sunny Ridge (tel: 02 6367 5189) and Millamolong
(tel: 02 6367 5241) are two homesteads out of town which are
both popular farmstay destinations.
Junction Reefs, now a mere locality just north-west of
Lyndhurst, began as a goldmining settlement in the 1860s.
Some old shafts and other ruins are still evident along the
Belubula River. The main survivor is a dam, built to service
the stamper batteries. It has since silted up but the dam
wall and adjacent waterfall are very attractive.
A large mining company operates at the site and, at the
moment, there is little to see as the area is temporarily
closed while the area is rehabilitated. Access is via the
Mandurama-Burnt Yard Rd (turn right at the pub in
Another 4 km west of Mandurama along the highway is
Lyndhurst. At one time the town was the major service centre
to the Junction Reefs goldfields and was apparently on the
shortlist to become the national capital! The Royal Hotel
remains from the boom days and the post office is located in
the old bakery building.
7 km east of town along the highway is a departure road to
the right that leads to the dam which is popular with
waterskiers, swimmers, anglers, windsurfers and sailors.
There are camping, picnic and barbecue facilities.
Neville is a village of about 100 people located 16 km
south-east of Mandurama along a sealed road. The area
started to develop in the 1850s and a school emerged in
1858. The settlement was proclaimed as Macquarie in 1885 but
became known as Mount Macquarie until the name 'Neville' was
officially adopted in 1888. Several buildings date from the
days when the township was still known as Mount Macquarie,
such as the Presbyterian Church (1866), the post office
(1870) and the Anglican Church (1875). The school of arts
was opened in 1890 and the Catholic Church in 1897. Tourist
information is available from the Valley Store, tel: (02)
|St James Church, Barry
Barry was originally known as the Village of Five Islands.
It was possibly named by prospector Edward Hargreaves. In
1836 he had 100 acres of land at Five Islands near
Wollongong. Alternatively Five Islands may have got its name
because it was situated between 5 distinct hills. The
village developed in the second half of the 1800s with
stores, school (established in 1862), Church, blacksmiths,
hall, carrier and agricultural workers. Confusion in the
mailing address with Wollongong Five Islands led to the use
of Barry as the locality by 1890. The village was probably
named after Caleb Barry, a former bank manager in Blayney
and stalwart of the Church of England. The pulpit in Christ
Church, Blayney is a memorial to Caleb Barry. It reads "To
the Glory of God in recognition 27yrs (1888 - 1915) faithful
service rendered to this parish as Christward and Sunday
School superintendent by Caleb Robertson Barry. " The
streets of Barry are named after clergy or bishops (Barber,
Marsden, Hale, Moorhouse, Pearson, Sawyer, Selwyn, Staunton,
Today all Barry public buildings, except St. James
Anglican Church and the community Centre have closed. The
Post Office and both stores are now private homes, as is the
school residence and former St Therese Catholic Church. The
village roads are still unsealed except for the main
crossroads Selwyn and Sawyer Streets. But there is now a
piped water supply available to residents from a hilltop
tank supplied by a bore. There are now approximately 40
houses in the village with some 80 residents.
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