Important rural service town on the Central Western Slopes.
Wellington is the second-oldest town west of the Blue Mountains. It is a relatively large centre in the Wellington Valley at the junction of the Macquarie and Bell Rivers and at the foot of Mount Arthur. An impressive rural service centre it is characterised by a wide main street, impressive stands of cool climate trees and a shopping centre which mixes shops from the 1950s to modern supermarkets. The town's centrepiece is Cameron Park which has been recognised as one of the most attractive public gardens in rural New South Wales. Edging one side of Nanima Crescent (the town's main street), the park combines a sunken garden, superb rose beds, a lily pond and a suspension bridge over the Bell River. Today Wellington is a service centre in the heart of beef, sheep, wheat country. It is also driven by a growing wine industry and tourism.
Wellington, the second-oldest town west of the Blue Mountains, is located 354 km north-west of Sydney via the Great Western and Mitchell Highways. It is 304 m above sea-level.^ TOP
Origin of Name
Wellington was named by the explorer John Oxley who, according to the popular story, unable to cross the Lachlan River because of dense reeds, climbed Mount Arthur in 1817 and named the entire landscape below him Wellington Valley, after the Duke of Wellington who, only two years earlier, had defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
An Historic Walk Around The Town
The Visitor Information Centre has three well-produced historic brochures. The Wellington Historical Walking Tour which concentrates on buildings within the town centre; the Montefiores Heritage Drive which explores the hinterland around the town and the Wellington Heritage Drive which explores the towns, villages and lakes to the south of the town.
A. Wellington Historical Walking Tour
This comprehensive guide to the most interesting historic buildings in the town lists a total of 24 sites and buildings of which the highlights include:
1. Cameron Park
Located between the main street and the Bell River (The explorer John Oxley named the small river that runs beside Cameron Park after Brevet Major Bell of the 48th Regiment. Impressed by its contrast with the muddy, marshy Lachlan River, Oxley wrote of "bright transparent water dashing over gravelly bottom..[with a]..brilliancy equal to the most polished mirror".) The park was gazetted as early as 1882 but it wasn't until 1909 when the town mayor (after whom the park is now named) appointed a park gardener, added a fountain that it became the excellent park it is today. The Cenotaph, depicting peace not war, was completed in 1933 and is based on a design by Gilbert Doble.
4. Kimbell's Bakery
Located on the corner of Lee Street and Warne Street, Kimbell's Baker & Pastrycook must be one of the most handsome and elegant bakeries in the country. A classic Federation-era building with verandas and wrought iron railings it was built in 1904 as a bakery and refreshment room and restored in 1994 with a Heritage Council grant.
6. Oxley Museum
Located on the corner of Warne and Percy Streets, the Oxley Historical Museum is housed in the old Bank of New South Wales, a glorious Victorian-era two-storey brick building erected in 1883 and designed by architect J. J. Hilly. It was converted into the Catholic presbytery in 1922 and opened as a museum in 1967. The exhibits are extensive. Both Windora School and Stinson Cottage (an 1851 slab dwelling) have been rebuilt in the grounds and the displays inside the building include a 19th-century pantry and kitchen, bedroom and nursery, Chinese Room, Military Room, Medical Room and textile and wedding gown room. It is open from 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm Monday to Thursday and at other times by arrangement, tel: (02) 6845 2325 or check out http://www.oxleymuseum.org.au.
7. St Patrick's Catholic Church
Located on the corner of Warne Street and Percy Street is the gracious St Patrick's Catholic Church (1917) with the Convent of Mercy (1889) next door.
8. St John the Baptist's Anglican Church
Opposite the Oxley Museum is St John the Baptist Anglican Church, the town's oldest surviving church. It was built in 1867 with the transept, chancel and bell-tower added over the next 25 years. Plans for the original building were submitted by Edmund Blacket, the designer of Sydney University’s quadrangle and many notable churches in New South Wales. Like St Patrick's and the Oxley Museum it is classified by the National Trust.
9. 64-70 Warne Street - Federation Houses
A row of four houses, all built between 1890-1907 by the Kennard Brothers, is a reminder of the distinct impact the Federation-era had on rural architecture.
10. The Fire Station Bell
The 1927 Fire Station on Warne Street contains the bell which was used in Lieutenant Simpson's original convict settlement in the area (1823-1831). It was then retained by the Aboriginal mission which was established subsequently on the same site.
12. Hotel Wellington
Located in Arthur Street is the Hotel Wellington which was completed in 1880 and built to coincide with the arrival of the railway. It is notable for its fine bell-tower and turret. It was restored in 1990.
13. Wellington Railway Station
In Swift Street is the impressive railway station which was opened with a ball for 200 local citizens which was held on 1 June, 1880. It has been extensively altered from the original station complex which was built of red bricks and included a hotel, refreshment rooms, railway workshops (they closed in 1925) and impressive gardens.
15. Federal Hotel
The Federal Hotel (1894) is located on Arthur Street. It is a typical country town hotel with ironwork on the balconies and distinctive rose red brickwork. It was named at the time of Federation when the concept of a federated Australia was so potent the name would have attracted drinkers.
18. Wellington Public School
Located in Arthur Street is the Wellington Public School which, although much modified over the years, retains the original schoolroom which dates from 1885. In the school yard is Oxley’s Anchor (one of several donated to Australia by the British Admiralty to denote significant sites along the route taken when Oxley explored the area). There is also an elm tree under which, in October 1910, the first meeting of the famous Gould League of Birdlovers was held. At one time just about every Australian school child was a member of the Gould League.
19. Wellington Court House
Designed by the famous architect, W.L. Vernon and built by George Kennard in 1872 it is a classic country town court house. A fine example of a Late Victorian courthouse made of brick with stone dressings, a terracotta tiled roof and an unusual entrance arch. The side rooms were added in 1912.
20. Post Office
Located prominently in Maughan Street is the Edwardian Post Office (1904) which has an enormous brick-and-stone ground floor arcade that contrasts impressively with the wooden veranda above. The first post office on the site was built in 1869.
Other Attractions in the Area
B. The Montefiores Heritage Drive
This 22 km, 90 minute drive from Wellington heads north across the Wellington Bridge, explores the historic town of Montefiores, then heads west out to Mount Arthur Reserve before heading south to the town's historic cemetery. Montefiores is located just across the bridge over the Macquarie River. In 1831, J. B. Montefiore was granted 5,120 acres on the northern bank of the Macquarie River. By 1840 he had subdivided the western section of the estate and a private village known as Montefiores had been established. Until 1870 all westbound traffic passed along Gipps Street, the town's main street. Today only a few buildings remain.
3. Lion of Waterloo Hotel
The historic Lion of Waterloo Hotel is located on the corner of Montefiores and Gipps Street dates to 1841 and was licensed in 1842, making it the oldest licensed hotel west of the Blue Mountains. What is thought to have been the last 'official' duel fought on Australian soil was waged with pistols outside the Lion of Waterloo in 1854. Today the inn has been restored and is operating as a licensed tavern. The construction is of hand cut ironbark slabs and bricks made by convicts. It once served as a changing station for Cobb & Co coaches. It is still possible to sit in the park and see exactly where the horses and carriages used to cross the Bell River. Check out http://www.wellington-nsw.com/Lion_of_Waterloo.html for details.
14. Mount Arthur Reserve
Mount Arthur (563 m above sea-level) covers 2,123 ha and rises above Wellington. It is situated 3.2 km west of town via Bushranger Creek Road. The reserve takes in three peaks - Mount Arthur, Mount Wellesley and Mount Duke - and is a sanctuary for a large number of birds, animals and over 400 native plant species.
There are seven walking trails in the reserve. Check out http://www.mtarthurreserve.org.au/scenic-trails.html for details:
Apex Trail (3.5 km circuit, 90 mins) The most accessible track the Apex Trail starts from the car park at the top of the Scenic Road. The trail includes interpretative signs and offers panoramic views from the Ningana, Kalang and Binjang lookouts.
Burrunggee Trail (4.6 km return, 110 mins)– An alternative and steeper route to the summit, this route starts at the car park and ascends the eastern face of Mount Arthur.
Bundari Trail (4 km return, 110 mins) – This trail starts about half-way up the Scenic Drive near the Landa Picnic Area. It is a longer trail with a few steep climbs through the foothills of the mountain and joins the Burrunggee Trail.
Bimberdong Trail (2.6 km return, 1 hr)– Beginning from the picnic area adjacent to the town's old reservoir, this trail ascends steeply to link with the Apex Trail.
Yarraman Trail (1.6 km one way, 30 mins)- a gentle trail along the lower slopes of Mt Arthur, between Bushranger's Creek Road and Brennan's Way and linking with the Bundari Trail.
Trig/Waterloo Trails (6.5 km circuit, 3 hrs)– This trail starts and ends at Bushranger Creek Road opposite the picnic area near the Old Reservoir site and climbs to the television repeater station on Mount Wellesley.
C. Wellington Heritage Drive
This 110 km, 3 hr drive from Wellington goes south via Dripstone, Lake Burrendong, Mumbil, Stuart Town, Farnham and Mookerawa Goldfields. It will take 5 hours if you go to both Lake Burrendong and Burrendong Arboretum. Places of particular interest include:
In the 1880s, during the building of the railway, this tiny village had a population of 350. It came into existence as a centre for lime burning. In the 1930s gold was discovered and 30 mines were dug in the area. Today there are a few deserted buildings. The local Catholic Church, St Agnes of the Springs, was built in 1879 from locally made bricks.
3. Lake Burrendong State Park
Lake Burrendong State Park is a huge artificial lake, three and a half times the size of Sydney Harbour, which was built between 1946 and 1967 to irrigate farmland to the west of Wellington. There are picnic and barbecue facilities, boat ramps, and a kiosk. It is known to be excellent for anglers with yellow belly, redfin, Murray Cod, European carp and silver perch all abounding in the lake. On the park's western shore is Mookerawa Park. Tel: (02) 6846 7435 or check out http://www.lakeburrendong.com.au.
3a. Burrendong Arboretum
Located next door to Burrendong State Recreation Area is Burrendong Arboretum, established in 1964. Burrendong Arboretum is a 167 ha botanic garden with 2000 species of Australian trees and wildflowers, including numerous rare and endangered plants. It is open daily from sunrise to sunset. There are self-guided walks through areas of special interest (including Fern Gully, a rainforest-type environment with an outstanding collection of Australian ferns) and roads for cycling or driving. 158 bird species, including emus, roam wild in the gardens, along with lizards, skinks, tortoises, echidna and wallabies. For further information check out http://www.burrendongarboretum.org/Burrendong_Arboretum/Welcome.html.
Wellington Gateway Sculpture
Created by sculptor Frances Ferguson with assistance from nine artists from the Orana Aboriginal Corporation, stonework by Ken Done, Flowers metalwork by David Hobba and glasswork by Brian Hurst, the Wellington Gateway Sculpture is located 8 km south of Wellington on the Mitchell Highway. An excellent sign at the site explains: "Made from the girders of the old Wellington bridge which collapsed in 1989, its form is based on the shape of a seed pod, representing the fertility of the valley and the future potential of the town. Crowning the pod is a glass dome which, while finishing off the form, shows the colours of the setting sun, adding a glow and a jewel-like quality to the pod. The chimes hanging inside make reference to the stalactites of the caves. Water drips from the stalactites to a pool below that represents the junction of the two local rivers, the Bell and the Macquarie. Encircling the pool are the words: "Wirrum-wirrum ngina omeo warra ay bila-bila nyn" which translates from the local Wiradjuri to "Wellington. Here mountains stand, rivers join." Growing out of the pod are large metal and mosaic plants. Starting with kangaroo grass, spreading out to the large purple Paterson's Curse and triumphant on top of the dome is a young seedling of the native orchid Diuris althoferi, a new species discovered by the local botanist, Geroge Althofer. The plants represent the local people, a native grass now taken over by European grasses. Paterson's curse represents a character which is colourful, a bit prickly but tough and enduring. While on top - an orchid still in its bud forms shows the continuing evolution of the people's understanding and relationship to this area."
5. Stuart Town
See detailed entry on the town and Farnham.
Located 8 km south of Wellington off the Mitchell Highway are the Wellington Caves. The first European to see the caves was probably someone associated with Lieutenant Simpson's party (1823-1831). The first written account was provided by the explorer Hamilton Hume in 1828. He wrote that: "The inside of the cave is beautifully formed, some parts of it are supported by pillars 50 feet high and beautifully carved by nature." Two years later George Rankin, a local magistrate, found fossil bones of both a diprotodon and a giant kangaroo in the caves. The diprotodon roamed the area during the Pleistocene period. Rankin returned with Sir Thomas Mitchell and collected a number of bones. The caves seem to have acted as a natural trap for fauna. The caves were vandalised during the nineteenth century and it wasn’t until 1884 that they became a reserve. By 1888 over 1500 people a year were visiting them.
Two of the caves are open for inspection: the Cathedral Cave (it involves about 150 steps) and the Gaden Cave (about 120 steps). Tours are held every day. Check times and prices of tours (which vary with school holidays) at http://www.visitwellington.com.au/discover/adventure/wellington-caves/tour-times-prices.
The Cathedral Cave is famous for its huge stalagmite known as The Altar which is 32 metres at its base and over 15 metres high. A visit lasts about 45 minutes and a tour of Gaden Cave takes about 40 minutes. There are now 26 known caves in the reserve. The most important discoveries have been the River Cave and Water Cave (both are submerged) which contain valuable fossils. The old Phosphate Mine (wheelchair friendly) has been fully restored and is also open for inspection. For details check out http://www.visitwellington.com.au/discover/adventure/wellington-caves/phosphate-mine.
Cobb & Co Heritage Trail
The historic coaching company, Cobb & Co, celebrated the 160th anniversary of its first journey in 2014. The company's contribution to Australia's development in the 19th century has been celebrated with a heritage trail (there is an excellent website complete with an interactive map at http://www.cobbandco.net.au/trails.html) which explores the route between Bathurst and Bourke. Cobb & Co's origins lay in the desire by miners to travel rapidly the goldfields in the early 1850s. As the Heritage Trail website explains: 'The company was enormously successful and had branches or franchises throughout much of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan. At its peak, Cobb & Co operated along a network of tracks that extended further than those of any other coach system in the world – its coaches travelled 28,000 miles (44,800 km) per week and 6000 (out of their 30,000) horses were harnessed every day. Cobb & Co created a web of tracks from Normanton on the Gulf of Carpentaria and Port Douglas on the Coral Sea down to the furthest reaches of Victoria and South Australia – in all, a continuous line of 2000 miles (3,200 km) of track over eastern Australia from south to north, with a total of 7000 miles (11,200 km) of regular routes".
Wellington Shire contains a number of Cobb & Co related sites including changing stations, track routes, crossings, disused hand-built roads, collapsed bridges, and hotels such as the Lion of Waterloo pub, the Royal Oak and the Sportsman's Arms. There is a specific map and details of the aspects of the Cobb & Co trail at http://www.cobbandco.net.au/trails/area-trails/67-wellington-shire.html. It includes information about Burrendong Dam, Montefiores, Stuart Town, Mookerawa State Recreation Area and Wellington.^ TOP
* Prior to European settlement the area was home to the Wiradjuri people who had lived and moved through the district for at least 20,000 years.
* The first European explorer into the valley was John Oxley in 1817. He headed north-east after being blocked by reeds in the Lachlan River, climbed Mount Arthur and named the Wellington Valley after the Duke of Wellington.
* In 1823 Governor Brisbane sent Lieutenant Percy Simpson to establish a camp with convicts and soldiers. It was situated about 3 km south of the present town site on the high ground above the Bell River and at the time was the only settlement beyond Bathurst.
* A property known as 'Gobolion' was established in 1824, 5 km north of present-day Wellington. Charles Sturt stayed there during one of his journeys.
* By 1831 the convict camp had been abandoned. It became a government stock station.
* By 1832, Wellington was the headquarters of an Aboriginal mission. It was located 3 km south of the town and today all that is left are some headstones, one of which dates to 1825.
* By the 1830s the Macquarie River, east of the junction with the Bell River, had become a major river crossing and was used by explorers, settlers and coaches until 1870.
* In 1831, J. B. Montefiore was granted 5,120 acres (2071 ha) on the northern bank of the Macquarie River.
* A plan for Wellington was drawn up in 1839. It was objected to by Reverend Watson who claimed it would adversely affect the Aboriginal mission.
* In 1840 J. B. Montefiore subdivided the western section of the estate and a private village known as Montefiores was established. Cobb & Co used the village as a coach stop. The horses were changed here after fording the river.
* The Lion of Waterloo Hotel was licensed at Montefiores in 1842, making it the oldest licensed hotel west of the Blue Mountains.
* In 1854 the last duel known to have been fought on Australian soil was waged with pistols outside the Lion of Waterloo. Only one shot was fired before the police arrived.
* The Wellington Aboriginal mission closed in 1842.
* Wellington was officially gazetted in 1846.
* In 1865 Cobb & Co established a service which ran through the town.
* The first courthouse and the first bridge over the Macquarie were both built in 1871.
* A goldrush occurred 35 km south-east of Wellington in 1875. Stuart Town and Mookerawa boomed with as many as 6000 miners. Stuart Town was originally known as Ironbark made famous by 'Banjo' Paterson's Man From Ironbark.
* Wellington became a municipality in 1879.
* The railway reached the town in 1890.
* The town's population reached 1340 in 1881.
* Mining operations had ceased in the district by 1914.
* Wellington Shire Council was established in 1949.
* On January 6, 1989, while attempting to cross the Macquarie River, a Mack prime mover carrying a trench digger caused the Wellington bridge to collapse. The Mack landed in the river. No-one was killed. For years afterwards the bridge, which was part of a major artery to the north-west, was closed and traffic was diverted.
* The town's bridge was rebuilt and opened in December, 1991.^ TOP
Wellington Visitor Information Centre, Cameron Park, tel: 1800 621 614^ TOP
The official local website can be found at http://www.visitwellington.com.au.^ TOP