Rich History of Cabonne Country
Gold, gold and more gold has been — and continues to be — an ongoing theme for the region. Natural riches coupled with a robust rural industry and tales of bushranger shenanigans have seen the area produce catalogues full of Local Legends and Characters.
Many of the towns and villages were built in the mad rush of “gold fever”. Some of the smallest villages like Cargo enjoyed an absolute boom in their early years – the likes of which they have never seen again. It is hard to believe Mullion Creek and Ophir were once teaming with prospectors. It’s not hard to imagine the crime that came with this settlement. The ongoing battle with bushrangers is a reoccurring theme throughout the region’s history. The tales are interwoven in folk law and readily embraced as part of the character that makes up the colourful history of each settlement.
Delve deeper and discover the historic riches…
Home to many heritage listed buildings and exciting stories of the past, a glimpse of our historic past can be experienced in antique shops, museums, streetscapes, historical sites and pubs. Each village in Cabonne has captured a piece of history.
On June 15, 1862, Australia’s biggest and most famous gold robbery was committed at Eugowra where Frank Gardiner’s gang held up the Ford & Co coach from Forbes to Orange at rocks 4.5 kilometres north of the present township. The bushrangers stole 2917 ozs gold and 3700 pounds sterling cash, but only a portion of the total value of 14,000 pounds sterling was ever recovered.
Two factors contributed greatly to the emergence of the village of Cudal. One was the “free selection” laws of the 1860’s; the other was the discovery of gold at Forbes and the movement of the diggers to the goldfields. Cudal, with its Boree Creek crossing an impassable hazard for many days during wet weather, and being roughly halfway from Orange to Eugowra, was naturally recognised as a suitable and practical stop over.
Manildra lies on the banks of the Mandagery Creek and is home to the biggest Flour Mill in the southern hemisphere, the Manildra Flour Mill. The original Mill was moved from the village of Cargo in 1906 when rail came to Manildra. Today the modern feed mill runs 24 hours a day. Australia’s oldest operating picture theatre is also in Manildra. Allan Tom started the Amusu Theatre in 1923 as a travelling picture show. He then settled it in its current position in 1936.
The name Molong is from an aboriginal word meaning “place of many rocks”. The town boasts an early Austen-European main street, which is classified by the National Trust. With many other beautiful and well cared for historic buildings scattered throughout the town, Molong provides the visitor with a look back into the past. Explorer Sir Thomas Mitchell’s aboriginal tracker, Yuranigh is buried just out of Molong on the Mitchell Highway towards Orange. Aboriginal scarred trees mark the grave site.
Gold mining in the late 1860’s led to the establishment of the township and in 1869 Cargo was proclaimed a goldfield. During the period 1869-1899 the town swelled to a population of around 7,000 and boasted three hotels, a bank, several business houses, three churches, two schools, a flour mill, community hall, butter factory, gold crushing plant, a racecourse and sporting grounds for tennis, cricket and football.
Cumnock like so many of Cabonne villages has great architecture and streetscapes that reflect the historic township. The Amaroo hall that was once the headquarters for the local Amaroo Shire and the old Court Rooms are now a coffee shop and visitor information centre.
For those enthused with heritage tourism, Gaskill Street Canowindra presents a streetscape of outstanding historical significance. The main street features a very unusual shape, unaffected over the years complete with late nineteenth century architecture. Such informal main streets are rare in New South Wales. Canowindra is also world famous for its 360 million year old fossil find, now housed in the Age of Fishes Museum in the town.
Mullion Creek/ Ophir
Ophir is an important site which has changed the course of history in Australia in the 19thC. Little remains of visible habitation but this is the palce where the first payable gold was found and gold rushes began. It is also the oldest continually worked goldfield in Australia with a rich social and cultural history.