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Condobolin, NSW

Quiet rural service centre on the Lachlan River.

Condobolin is a typical rural service town in the Central West of New South Wales close to the geographic centre of the state. The rich red soils and reliable rainfall have made it a centre of an area noted for its wool, wheat, sheep, cattle, fruit and mixed farming. The town does not see itself as a major tourist destination with the local visitor website offering nothing more than Gumbend Lake, an artificial lake with picnic facilities; a Railway Museum and a Museum of The Lachlander, the local newspaper; a couple of lookouts and an Aboriginal burial site some 40 km west of the town.

Location

Condobolin is located close to the geographic centre of New South Wales. It is 459 km west via Parkes and 477 km via Forbes. It is 189 m above sea-level.

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Origin of Name

It has been argued that Condobolin meant "hop bush" in the language of the Wiradjuri people but in A New Wiradjuri Dictionary the word used for "hop bush" is "burrur". It seems that an early settler, William Lee, occupied a run in 1844 which was called "Condoublin". By 1848 it had changed to "Condooblin".

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Things to See and Do

Lookout
The town lookout, on Reservoir Hill off Maitland Street, offers panoramic views of the town and the surrounding fertile plains.

Cemetery
The town's historic cemetery is located 2 km north on the Boona Road. It has memorials to early pioneers and a restored Chinese section. There is a booklet available in town titled A History of the Chinese in Condobolin.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Mount Tilga
Located 8 km north of the town on the Condobolin-Cobar Road, Mount Tilga is reputedly the exact geographical centre of New South Wales. The climb to the summit is not easy but the views over the Lachlan Valley and the surrouding fields and paddocks are worth the effort. It offers an excellent panorama of the Central Western plains.

Aboriginal Site
Some 40-50 km west on the Condobolin-Lake Cargelligo Road at Goobothery Hill is an Aboriginal burial site believed to be the location of the leader of the Calare group who died while trying to cross the Lachlan River. The site predates 1817 when John Oxley noted its presence. The site is sign posted to the right if you are heading west from Condobolin.
For more details check out http://www.condobolinargus.com.au/Archive/2008/081112_archival.html which records the upgrading of the site in 2008. The article notes: "In the travel accounts of John Oxley, the grave was a memorial to a local ‘King’ of the Calare tribe who drowned while crossing the flooded Lachlan River. Local Aboriginal oral tradition details how ‘Gerasmus’ had attempted to save a local mob from the rising floodwaters.
The grave was originally marked with a mound and surrounded by engraved trees and three rows of earth seats for the local elders.
“The more respected a person was the more carvings were engraved around his burial place because the mob would come out to pay their respects,” said Christian [Hampspon the Manager of the North West Aboriginal Heritage Region].
In 1914, the trees were removed to be preserved in museums in Sydney and were replaced by replicas. Efforts are underway to have the originals moved closer to the original site."

Gumbend Lake
Located 4 km west of the town on the Kiacatoo Road, the Gumbend Lake is a pleasant alternative to the Lachlan River. It is a small artificial lake surrounded by 40 ha of landscaped grounds and there are picnic and camping facilities, barbecues, showers and toilets. The townsfolk use it for swimming, boating and water skiing.

Fishing
The Lachlan River is a popular fishing spot with large cod, yellowbelly and silver perch. There is detailed and up to date information for anglers on http://www.fishingmonthly.com.au with specific reports on the Lachlan River.

Utes in the Paddock
Utes in the Paddock were relocated in 2018. They are now located at the intersection of The Gipps Way and Lachlan Valley Way south off the town approx 1.5km from the Post Office. Currently there are fifteen old utes, all painted and positioned as interesting sculptures. Iconic model Holden utes are part of an ambitious artist's tribute to life in the outback. Utes in the Paddock is the brainchild of Graham Pickles whose passion for the outback led him to purchase the historic cattle station, Burrawang West near Ootha in 2000. The inspiration was Cadillac Ranch in Texas where Cadillacs form an unusual sculpture display. As the website explains:"15 utes are on display now and we hope to have the remaining 4 in place by early next year.”  Contributing artists from all over New South Wales and Queensland include John Murray, Shane Gehlert, Peter Browne, Michael Jones, Peter Mortimore, Eris Fleming, Paul Blahuta, Greg Brennan, Belinda Williams, Stephen Coburn, Karen Tooth, Lewis Burns and Jim Moginie", one-time member of Midnight Oil who was inspired to produce UteZilla by the song Redneck Wonderland. Check out http://www.utesinthepaddock.com.au for comprehensive details.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area was inhabited by the Wiradjuri people.

* In 1817 the explorer John Oxley passed through the area.

* In 1836 Major Thomas Mitchell camped at the junction of the Lachlan River and Goobang Creek. His report on the area was positive and squatting began shortly afterwards.

* In 1844 a settler named William Lee was living on the 'Condoublin' run.

* A reserve was created on a portion of that run in 1853. It was the future townsite and was located on the north bank of the Lachlan.

* Condobolin was gazetted in 1859. From 1860-1880 it was used as little more than a stopover and river-crossing for drovers moving stock from the north and west of New South Wales to Victoria.

* In 1880 the large properties in the area were subdivided. This led to free selectors moving in from the south. It also saw the first fruit and wheat cultivation which led to a service town developing.

* A major copper discovery was made at Melrose in 1885.

* The Condobolin municipality was declared in 1890.

* In 1896 gold was discovered north-west of the town at Overflow station.

* From 1898-1910 a major copper and gold mine operated at Condobolin.

* The railway reached Condobolin 1898 and consequently the town became the railhead for the central west until 1927 when the line to Broken Hill was completed.

* The construction of the Wyangala Dam in 1935 increased local agricultural production.

* Today the town is a quiet service centre for the surrounding district.

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Visitor Information

The Lachlan Shire Council, 58-64 Molong Street, tel: (02) 6895 4444.

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Useful Websites

There is a good local website - http://condobolin.nsw.au - check it out for accommodation and eating options in the town.

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Got something to add?

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

3 suggestions
  • It would be nice to see something about the mines out at Mineral Hill … and the history of them. Also some info on Three Peaks school and Melrose Pub.

    Jayne Brown
  • Accommodation?

    Hi Hayley,
    My first attempt at offering an internet guide to Australian towns had 21,000 entries for accommodation and eating and the day it was completed it was wrong. They simply change too quickly and too often. Type “Condobolin – Accommodation” into Google and you will be offered plenty of alternatives.

    hayley
  • Great town to grow up in the memories come flooding back .

    Jill Norris