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Carcoar, NSW

Charming National Trust-listed town with outstanding historic buildings.

Carcoar is a true historic gem. It really is one of the country's most impressive and charming historic towns. Located just off the Mid Western Highway (it has never had to deal with large numbers of through traffic) it is nestled in a small green valley on either side of the Belubula River. Like most Australian country towns it was laid out in a regular grid pattern. However the settlement developed along Belubula Street which descends from St Paul's Church and winds its way through the town. Not surprisingly the town has been classified by the National Trust because of its large number of beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings.

Location

Carcoar is located just off the Mid Western Highway, 256 km west of Sydney, 52 km south-west of Bathurst and 720 m above sea-level.

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Origin of Name

This is Wiradjuri country and it is believed that "carcoar" is a corruption of a Wiradjuri word which meant either "frog" or "kookaburra".

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Things to See and Do

There is a National Trust map and list of historic buildings which records a remarkable 35 buildings in Carcoar all dating from 1845 to 1941. Every building is worth inspecting. Here are some notes on the buildings

1. Court House (1882)
Located on the corner of Belubula Street and Icely Street is the former courthouse, a Victorian Classical building erected in 1882 to replace the original 1841 building. Considered one of Colonial Architect 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 veranda ironwork is hand-forged. The interior has an elaborate painted frieze, fine cedar joinery and original fittings. The Court House Museum, with its collection of photographs and historic items, is open on weekends, public holidays and by arrangement. Tel: (02) 6367 4155.

2. Post Office (1879)
Next door to the courthouse, in Belubula Street, is the Post Office, a two-storey brick building dating from 1879 with unusual ironwork on the upper floor. The single-storey structure at the front is a later addition.

3. CBC Bank (1877)
Next door to the Post Office is the old CBC Bank building, a handsome Classical Revival building designed by G.A. Mansfield and built in 1877 of rendered brick with a detailed facade and cedar joinery. Today it is the home of the 20th Century Toy Museum which houses a collection of over 2000 toys in the five downstairs rooms.The collection spans the era from the First World War right through to modern times – from Betty Boop, Dan Dare and Sad Sack to the Simpsons, Japanese Anime and Mr Blobby. The Museum is open 11.00 am to 5.00 pm Wednesday to Sunday during the tourist seasons. Tel: (02) 6367 3274.

4. Bakers Terrace (1879)
Previously known as the Bakers Hotel (1879), the building is one end of the single-storey terrace which still bears a sign indicating its former life as the Commercial Hotel (1863). Parts of the original shingled roof can still be seen.

5. Commercial Hotel (1863)

6. Commercial Bank (1862)
Next door to the Commercial Hotel is a private residence named 'Daylesford'. It was originally built as a home. In the 1860s it was rented to the Commercial Bank. In 1863, the bushranger Johnny Gilbert, accompanied by John O'Meally, held up the bank. This robbery has the 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.

7. Enterprise Stores (1851)
Opposite the post office, and next to the Royal Hotel, is a typical 19th century rural general store. There is a map of the town and its sights posted up by the general store. Alternatively you can enquire at the post office - tel: (02) 6367 3077.

8. Royal Hotel (1941)
Although a more recent addition to the town, the hotel is old style and offers reasonably priced hotel accommodation and dining. It is located at 6 Belubula Street, tel: (02) 6367 3009. Check out http://www.royalhotelcarcoar.com.au.

9. City Bank (1886)
The former City Bank is a three-storey red-brick building.

10. St Paul's Rectory (1849)
Further up Belubula Street is the former Anglican rectory, designed by noted colonial 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 clergyman to conduct a private school.

11. St Paul's Anglican Church (1845)
St Paul's Anglican Church, a small Gothic Revival structure, was designed by the famous colonial architect, Edmund 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 in its original condition, including the brick sanctuary floor, the sandstone font and the family pew for original European settlers, notably the Icelys. Thomas Icely paid for the church.

12. Criterion Hotel (c.1860)
The New Criterion Inn is a single-storey brick building that was positioned on the original access road into Carcoar. It is possible to see the cellar trapdoor on the pavement in front of the building.

13. Church of Immaculate Conception (1870)
Located on the corner Coombing Street and Collins Street is the Church of the Immaculate Conception which was built in 1870. It has a slim stone bellcote and spire and retains its original cooling system which was created by wall cavities through which air passed into outlets in the window sills.

14. Catholic Convent (1874)
Next door is the former convent (1874), built by the same architect who designed the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

15. St James Presbyterian Church (1861)
St James Presbyterian Church was built in 1861 during the time when the Reverend James Adam was the local clergyman. He was held up by notorious bushranger Ben Hall but allowed to pass reputedly because he made a good impression on the bushranger.

16. Presbyterian Manse (1862)
Opposite the Public School in Icely Street is the residence of the Presbyterian clergyman. It was completed in 1862 and first occupied by the Reverend James Adam.

17. Public School (1884)
Located in Icely Street, the date on the school's bell tower (1884) indicates the year when the Board of Education purchased the Carcoar Hotel (built in 1860) and used that building as the basis for the present school.

18. Police Station (1884)
Located on the corner of Icely Street and Coombing Street is the town's second police station. It was originally built as a sergeant's residence. The police were first stationed at Carcoar in 1836.

19. The Saddlery (1844)
Located on the corner of Icely Street and Coombing Street is the town's historic saddlery which dates from 1844. The second storey was added in 1860.

20. Courthouse Hotel (1870)
Located next to the Saddlery is the former Courthouse Hotel (1870) with its quaint picket fence and attic windows. It is now a private residence. Next door is the School of Arts building.

21. School of Arts (1901)
Located in the School of Arts building in Icely Street, in what used to be the projectionist’s room when it was a cinema, is the Carmenhurst Military Museum, a collection of war memorabillia. The collection is managed by the Lyndhurst RSL Sub-Branch. Open by appointment, tel: (02) 6367 3149.

22. Victoria Hotel (1878)
The two-storey red-brick building diagonally opposite the stationmaster's residence is the former Victoria Hotel (1878).

23. Flour Mill (1850)

24. Private Hospital (1880)
Now known as 'Dalebrook' this one-time private hospital was once an elegant two-storey residence built in 1880 for a local baker.

25. Station Masters Residence (1888)
Constructed in 1888 when the railway arrived in town this single storey residence was used by the station master and his family.

26. Railway Station (1888)
The railway station was completed in 1888 in a Gothic design. It was eventually closed down in 1974.

27. Stoke Hotel (1880)
This impressive two storey hotel has been used as a restaurant and a bed and breakfast destination in recent times. It was built as a hotel.

28. Stoke Stable (1849)
Located at 8 Stokes Lane, this historic and attractive stone building is the Stokes Stable Museum, erected by convict labour in 1849. It is possibly the oldest building in town. The Museum displays historical photos and memoribilia reflecting the residential, industrial and agricultural history of the local area. It retains the features of its earlier use. The horse stalls and mangers are still visible, as are the building’s early roof shingles. The museum is open from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm on weekends. Check tel: (02) 6367 3173 for details.

29. Former Home of John Fagan
Further down Stoke Lane is a single-storey brick residence with dormer windows originally built in 1862 for John Fagan who was the coach driver during the famous gold-escort robbery at Eugowra.

30. Anzac Memorial

31. Blenheim Hall (1859)
In Coombing Street, up from the Presbyterian Manse, is a driveway which leads to Blenheim Hall which was built in 1859 of plastered random stone with a separate kitchen wing. It is a private home and is quite difficult to see from the roadside.

32. Boxhall's Inn (1870)

33. Showground (1877)

34. Hospital (1862)
Now the Carcoar Hospital Museum, and located at 7 Eulamore Street, Carcoar, it was one of the earliest colonial hospital buildings in Australia. It was designed by architect Edward Gell and the foundation stone was laid in 1860. It was funded by community fund raising with Government Assistance. The total cost was £2,400. Open by appointment, tel: (02) 6367 3172.

35. Former Inn (c.1870)

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Other Attractions in the Area

Coombing Park
Coombing Park was the original land grant in the area, made to Thomas Icely in 1826. To service the estate the town of Carcoar was created in 1839. At the time the station was constantly being harassed by bushrangers. Mickey Bourke, for example, shot and killed a labourer while stealing a racehorse from the estate's stables. Icely ran the estate with 62 convicts who built the original homestead and outbuildings between 1838 and 1842. The original shearing shed survives. The stables, which date from 1848, also survive.
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 memorabilia. Today Coombing Park is private property. The gates can be seen by those who are prepared to drive 5 km west along the highway from the Carcoar turnoff.

Mandurama
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 Thomas Icely's estate and developed into a small service centre for the surrounding farmlands. There is the Royal Hotel (1899), a general store and a service station. Apart from the hotel, the Belabula Lodge Masonic Hall, the churches and two former bank premises are of historic interest.

Carcoar Dam
Located 6 km east of town along the highway is a road which leads to Carcoar Dam which is popular with waterskiers, swimmers, anglers, windsurfers and sailors. There is free camping on the lake shores as well as picnic and barbecue facilities. For more details check out http://www.waternsw.com.au/supply/visit/carcoar-dam.

Neville
Neville is a village of about 100 people located 16 km south-east of Mandurama. The area started to develop in the 1850s and a school was established in 1858. During its period of growth Neville established itself as a township with a co-operative butter company, dressmakers and milliners, a dentist, wheelwright, blacksmiths, motor mechanics, butcher shops, saddler, stock and station agency, slaughterhouse, fruit shop, banker, brick maker, bakehouse and the renowned Colburt's beer. Unfortunately all of these businesses have disappeared. Some Chinese built sluices and panned for gold and opal was documented as early as 1875. 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. Check out http://www.nevillesiding.com.au for more information

Barry
Barry was originally known as the Village of Five Islands. It was almost certainly named by prospector Edward Hargreaves who had 100 acres of land at Five Islands near Wollongong. 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 by 1890. The village was probably named after Caleb Barry, a former bank manager in Blayney and prominent member 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 27 yrs (1888 - 1915) faithful service rendered to this parish as Christ ward 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, Turner). Today all Barry public buildings, except St. James Anglican Church and the community Centre have closed.

Everything You Ever Needed to Know About Blayney's Windfarm
Blayney's Wind Farm, which is located 8 km from Carcoar and is clearly signposted off the road to Blayney, was recognised when it was built as the largest of its type in Australia. It is impressive and a fine example of the potential of clean energy.

Vital Statistics
Overall size - 10 Megawatts
Number of Turbines - 15
Capacity of each Turbine - 660 Kilowatts
Height of Hub from Ground - 45 metres
Blade diameter - 47 metres
Rotational speed of blades - 28.5 rpm
Start up wind speed of turbine - 14 kph
Maximum power production wind speed - 61 kph
Cut-out (shutdown) wind speed of turbine - 90 kph

Electricity Produced
Energy generated at 690 volts and stepped up to 11,000 volts then 66,000 for supply into Advanced Energy's transmission grid as green power. The capacity of the windfarm (10 MV) is enough to supply the annual electricity needs of 3,500 average Australian homes.

General
Cost of project approx $18 million. Each wind turbine is monitored at a remote location through a communications link.

Wind for the Environment
Compared to conventional coal-fired generated electricity, this windfarm saves 8,000 tonnes/year of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This reduces the need for fossil fuel generation that produces greenhouse gases.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was home to the Wiradjuri Aborigines.

* The first European to travel through the district was surveyor George Evans who headed south-west from Bathurst and camped at the head of Coombing Creek in 1815.

* Squatters moved into the district in 1821.

* The first land grant was 'Coombing Park' (it was initially 560 acres) which was issued to Thomas Icely in 1829.

* In 1838 Icely requested that a village (Carcoar) be established to service his large pastoral estate.

* In 1839 Carcoar became the third settlement west of the Blue Mountains to be gazetted.

* Land sales for blocks in the town commenced in 1840.

* A labourer, German Charley, was shot dead by bushranger Mickey Bourke while trying to prevent the theft of a racehorse from the Coombing Park stables.

* In 1841 the governor of New South Wales threatened martial law and the withdrawal of all convict privileges because of the lawlessness in the area.

* By 1850 Carcoar had become a banking and administrative centre and the second-largest settlement west of the Blue Mountains, after Bathurst.

* In 1863, Johnny Gilbert and John O'Meally conducted Australia's first daylight bank robbery when they held up the Commercial Bank. They fled empty-handed when a teller fired a shot into the bank ceiling to alert the town.

* 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.

* The town was affected by the discovery of gold further west in the mid-1860s. Many labourers left the area to search for gold.

* The railway reached Blayney in 1874 and consequently Blayney replaced Carcoar as the major rural service centre in the district.

* The government erected a number of significant public buildings in the town in the 1870s and 1880s.

* Iron ore from Coombing Park was transported to the Lithgow steelworks.

* The railway did not reach Carcoar until 1888.

* The population was in decline by the early 1880s.

* Today the town has a population of a little over 200 people.

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Visitor Information

Carcoar has no visitor information centre. The closest is the Orange Visitor Information Centre, 149 Byng Street, tel: 1800 069 466.

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Useful Websites

The town has its own dedicated website. Check out http://www.carcoar.com.au for information about festivals, local history and where to stay and eat. There is also the excellent https://www.carcoarvillage.com which provides useful information about the village.

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Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

5 suggestions
  • Was this the town where Kurt Fernely was born?

    GAIL PRICE
  • Carcoar has three major events each year. The Australia Day Festival, The Carcoar Show (“the best little show in NSW”) on the last weekend in October, and the now iconic Carcoar Cup Running Festival on the first weekend n November. The festival draws runners of every ability from all over Australia and overseas, and the races are run over a course described as one of the most beautiful in Australia. http://www.carcoarcup.com.au
    Details of all three events are to be found at http://www.carcoar.com.au

    Andrew Baulch
  • There are two roads into and out of Carcoar. Do you know who made them?
    My father once told me a relative made the second because his relative (wife maybe) died on the main road so he built the second so he wouldn’t have to drive past the spot she died.

    Lorna
  • Thought William Whitney owned Cooming House in Carcoar. He was responsible for the stagecoach back then.

    Pauline W.