Cobar in Outback NSW
is not your typical mining town.
While it might have developed along traditional, frontier lines, after local Aborigines led bore-sinking contractors to copper deposits back in the 1870s, the introduction of channeled water almost 100 years later transformed a typically dusty mining town into a lush oasis in the midst of marginal land, 725 kilometres west of Sydney. The Cobar population, which exceeded 10,000 at the peak of the copper boom, has stabilised at around half that figure.
The greening of Cobar notwithstanding, the district still continues to produce large, highly profitable tonnages of gold, silver, copper, lead and zinc, while wool remains the principal primary product.
The Regional Museum on the Barrier Highway traces the history of the district through pastoral, mining and technological displays. Housed in the original, two-storey Mining Office with its iron lacework so typical of rural-colonial architecture, the museum's collection is regularly ranked among the best and most comprehensive in regional NSW.
Cobar's standout buildings include the courthouse, police station, St Laurence O'Toole Catholic Church and the Great Western Hotel, which boasts the longest iron-lace verandah in NSW. Self-guided heritage walks and heritage bus tours are of interest, and travellers can also arrange to look over the Commonwealth Meteorological Station, located just 4 kilometres out of town.
Cobar is at the centre of a region rich in ancient Aboriginal art, indeed, a half hour's drive north-west from Cobar will take you to some highly significant Aboriginal cave paintings at Mount Grenfell. Protected rock galleries near the Mount Grenfell Station homestead feature human, animal and abstract figures displayed in white pipeclay and red and yellow ochre. Picnic areas adjoin the galleries.
Fort Bourke Hill, to the south-east of Cobar, presents sweeping views of the town and the mine-dominated landscape.
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