Carcoar, New South Wales

Coordinates: 33°36′39.733″S 149°08′25.303″E / 33.61103694°S 149.14036194°E / -33.61103694; 149.14036194
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New South Wales
Belubula Street
Carcoar is located in New South Wales
Coordinates33°36′39.733″S 149°08′25.303″E / 33.61103694°S 149.14036194°E / -33.61103694; 149.14036194
Population200 (2016 census)[1]
Elevation720 m (2,362 ft)
LGA(s)Blayney Shire
State electorate(s)Bathurst
Federal division(s)Calare
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
20.9 °C
70 °F
6.6 °C
44 °F
784.6 mm
30.9 in

Carcoar is a small town in the Central West region of New South Wales, Australia, in Blayney Shire. In 2016, the town had a population of 200 people.[1] It is situated just off the Mid-Western Highway 258 km west of Sydney and 52 km south-west of Bathurst and is 720 m above sea level. It is located in a small green valley, with the township and buildings on both banks of the Belubula River.[2] It is the third oldest settlement west of the Blue Mountains.[2] Carcoar is a Gundungurra word meaning either 'frog' or 'kookaburra'.[3] Nearby towns are Blayney, Millthorpe, Mandurama, Neville, Lyndhurst and Barry

It was once one of the most important government centres in Western New South Wales. The town has been classified by the National Trust due to the number of intact 19th-century buildings, with a significant amount of cultural materials relating to 19th century Australian life.[2]

St Paul's Anglican Church is one of the oldest churches in the state, with graves dating back to the 1800s. It was reported in 2019 that the Anglican diocese plans to sell it to raise money for compensation for the church's sex abuse victims, a move which has outraged locals, who spent their own money on restorations.[4]



The original occupants were the Wiradjuri Aboriginals.[2] The first European to travel through the area was surveyor George Evans, who, heading south-west from Bathurst in 1815, sighted evidence of the Wiradjuri presence. Belubula has been identified as the Wiradjuri word for 'stony river'.[2]

The first European settlers arrived in 1821. The first official land grant, comprising 560 acres (2.3 km²), was issued to Thomas Icely on 26 May 1829. He named it Coombing.

In 1836 Carcoar locality consisted of a wayside inn kept by George Stammers, a blacksmith’s shop and a small store.[5] In 1838 Thomas Icely requested that a village be established to service his large pastoral estate. On 29 September 1839 Carcoar became just the third settlement west of the Blue Mountains to be gazetted.

The first allotments in the town were sold in 1840. By 1850 Carcoar was the second most populous town west of the mountains, second in size only to Bathurst, and became a banking and administrative centre for the area. In 1857 the town's public school opened. It has continued to function as a school since that day, making it one of the oldest continuous schools in Australia.

The main street is Naylor Street. It was named after the first Anglican minister, the Reverend Thomas Beagley Naylor.[6]

Tenders were called in March 1842 for the construction of a court house and lock up and these structures were built soon after.[7] The court house also served as a place of worship. It was replaced by a second court house, of an Italianate design, that was commenced in 1879 and finished in 1882.[8]

The discovery of gold further to the west in the mid-1860s started the decline of the town. The government began erecting a number of significant public buildings starting in the late 1870s.

Carcoar Railway Station
The Stoke Stable Museum, built by convict labour in 1849
Historic machinery outside the Stoke Stable Museum
Carcoar Dam with Blayney Wind Farm in background
Carcoar Wetland


The location of the town at the bottom of a steep valley counted against it when it came to railway construction. Another blow came to the town when the railway went to Blayney (13 km to the North East) in 1874. By the early 1880s, the population was in decline. Carcoar was not on the railway line until 1888, when the Blayney–Demondrille railway line, which is an extension of the Main Southern Line, was constructed.[9]

In the 1980s, passenger services were suspended between Cowra and Blayney (including Carcoar). This section was used by the Lachlan Valley Railway for many years until the line was closed in 2009.

Convicts and bushrangers[edit]

Carcoar's population growth in the mid-19th century also brought crime problems, with increased activity by local renegade convicts and bushrangers by the late 1830s. In response, local authorities threatened to impose martial law and withdraw all convict privileges in 1841. However, Carcoar's crime problems largely subsided following the capture of bushranger Paddy Curran, the arrival of a magistrate, and the addition of more police. The activity of Irish convicts-turned-bushrangers operating in Australia was the subject of ballads, including "The Wild Colonial Boy."

John Peisley, born in Bathurst in 1835, was a notorious horse thief in the area in the early 1850s. While imprisoned on Cockatoo Island near Sydney, now called Biloela, he met veteran prisoner Frank Gardiner, labelled a "Cockatoo Hand." Peisley received his ticket of leave in December 1860, conditional on his remaining in the Hunter River Valley. He absconded to the Abercrombie Rangies, where his parents had previously lived, and began a series of highway robberies in the south and west of Bathurst. Frank Gardiner joined him after two months, followed by Johnny Gilbert three weeks later. Peisley was captured in late January 1862, charged with murdering a Bigga innkeeper, and hanged at Bathurst. Frank Gardiner served imprisonment six years for horse theft; upon his release, he broke his parole and took up cattle thieving.

Two local men from the Mount Macquarie area (now Neville), long-term friends Mickey Bourke and Johnny Vane attempted to steal a racehorse from Coombing. In the process Bourke non-fatally shot stablehand German Charley, who tried to stop them, in the mouth. Bourke went on to join Ben Hall's bushranger gang.

On 13 July 1863, Ben Hall, with Johnny Gilbert and John O'Meally, held up the Carcoar Commercial Bank in broad daylight. This marked Australia's first bank robbery. It was thwarted when a bank teller fired a shot into the bank's ceiling, and the gang fled without seizing anything but shooting the manager as he was returning to the bank. The three, this time joined by Johnny Vane and Mickey Bourke, then held up a jeweller's shop and the Sportsman's Arms Hotel in Bathurst in broad daylight in October 1863. The gang escaped down George Street, exchanging shots with police. They returned three days later and robbed more stores, homes, and businesses on the outskirts of Bathurst. Weeks later, twenty-year-old Mickey Burke was shot in the stomach during a hold-up of Gold Commissioner Keightley in Rockley. Believing he was about to die, he shot himself in the head; still alive and in pain, Hall killed him.

Some time later, Ben Hall held up Presbyterian Reverend James Adam, who made such a good impression on the bushranger that Hall let him go without robbing him.

Ben Hall died in a gunfight near Forbes in May 1865 and was buried in the Forbes cemetery. In Ben Hall's three years as their leader, the gang robbed two mail coaches, committed 21 hold-ups, and stole 23 racehorses.


Copper was mined at nearby Coombing Park at various times between 1848 and 1878.[10][11] Iron ore was also mined there from 1899 to 1923.[12][13][14] There was also gold in the area, at the Three Mile Diggings to the west of Carcoar.[15][16] Carcoar was the site of Australia's first documented uranium deposit, found in 1894.[17] The uranium ore deposit was located within a cobalt mine—mined from 1888 to 1895—and was in the form of copper uranite.[18][19]

Proposed national capital site[edit]

An area referred to as 'Forest Reefs', at the time, was one of the proposed sites for Australia's national capital. The area does not correspond with the modern-day locality of Forest Reefs. but lay immediately to the north of the township of Carcoar, upon which it bordered.[20]


Due to its far western location, Carcoar has hotter summers but also colder winters than Bathurst (a wider seasonal range). Sometimes snow can fall and sleet is often a feature in the winter months. Rainfall peaks somewhat in the winter and is lowest from high summer through to mid autumn; winters are significantly wetter than those at Bathurst.

Climate data for Carcoar (1907–1969, rainfall 1881–1970); 720 m AMSL; 33.62° S, 149.13° E
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 29.8
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 13.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 62.5
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 6.2 5.4 5.6 6.0 8.2 10.8 10.9 10.6 8.8 8.5 6.8 6.3 94.1
Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Carcoar

Heritage listings[edit]

Carcoar has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


The Royal Hotel[edit]

The Royal Hotel Carcoar is an historic hotel in the main street of Carcoar, a National Trust classified village. The Royal Hotel Carcoar has been awarded a "Two Schooner" Good Pub Food Guide ranking in 2010 and 2011 which is the pub equivalent of the Australian Good Food Guide "Two Hat" rating for restaurants.

Carcoar Pottery[edit]

Master Potter Louise Purcell created Carcoar Pottery to showcase her unique designs in domestic and ornamental pottery.


In the 2016 Census, there were 200 people in Carcoar. 88.2% of people were born in Australia and 94.4% of people spoke only English at home.[1]

Historical population
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics data.[25][26]


Down to Earth Gardening Expo and Plant Fair[edit]

Held at the Carcoar Show Ground on the last Sunday in April this event highlights ecology and sustainability along with the relaxation and pleasure to be derived from gardening. The Down to Earth Gardening Expo and Plant Fair is held annually and attracts stallholders and visitors from far and wide.

Carcoar Cup Running Festival[edit]

The first weekend in November sees the staging of the Carcoar Cup Running Festival. Begun in 2011, it has become an iconic event on the Australia Running calendar, hosting a marathon, teams marathon, half marathon, 10K special, 6K Creek Dash, and Carcoar Cup for Kids. Runners come from over 170 different towns and cities throughout Australia and overseas. The event has been recognised as NSW Regional Flagships Event for the last several years.[as of?]

Carcoar Show[edit]

An annual agricultural show held on the last weekend of October with judged events ranging from flower arranging to stud cattle and heavy horse snigging and pulling competitions.

Australia Day Fair[edit]

The annual festival for Australia Day swells the population of Carcoar to over 3000. The streets are lined with stalls. There are stage coach rides, entertainment, refreshments and historical reenactment of local history.

Film and television[edit]

In recent years the town has been used as a location for numerous film and television productions including Jessica (starring Sam Neill), Let the Balloon Go, Brides of Christ, Tommy the Kid, Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door (2015), Backtrack (2015) and Ten Pound Poms (2023).

Notable residents[edit]

  • Kurt Fearnley, wheelchair athletics world champion who also crawled the 96 km Kokoda Trail in November 2009.
  • Havelock Ellis, physician, psychologist, writer, social reformer who was a pioneer in the study of human sexuality. In the 1870s Ellis spent a year as a tutor for a family living a few miles from Carcoar, before becoming a master at a grammar school in Grafton. He later wrote: "In Australia, I gained health of body, I attained peace of soul, my life task was revealed to me, I was able to decide on a professional vocation, I became an artist in literature . . . these five points covered the whole activity of my life in the world..."

Panoramic view[edit]

Panoramic view of Carcoar taken from nearby hill


  1. ^ a b c Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Carcoar (L) (urban centre/locality)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 15 October 2018. Edit this at Wikidata Material was copied from this source, which is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Carcoar, NSW | Central New South Wales Museums". Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Carcoar". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 28 June 2009. Edit this at Wikidata
  4. ^ "Fury as diocese plans to sell community church to pay sex abuse victims". Retrieved 10 September 2019.
  5. ^ Early Colonial Days II, 'The Biography of a Reliable Old Native, John McGuire' by W. H. Pinkstone, Braidwood Dispatch and Mining Journal, 1 August 1906, page 2.
  6. ^ Philip Cox & Wesley Stacey (1973), Historic Towns of Australia, Melbourne, Lansdowne, p.74. ISBN 0701801840
  7. ^ Cox & Stacey, p.74
  8. ^ Cox & Stacey, p.76
  9. ^ Sydney Morning Herald 16 November 1887 p5
  10. ^ Jack, Ian. "The Icely Family and Coombing Park, near Carcoar" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 March 2016.
  11. ^ "CARCOAR". Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954). 5 July 1876. p. 5. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  12. ^ "COUNTRY NEWS". Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954). 14 December 1899. p. 8. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  13. ^ "NEW IRONWORKS AT LITHGOW". Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930). 19 May 1907. p. 12. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  14. ^ "Carcoar Iron Mine (Coombing Park Iron Mine), Carcoar, Bathurst Co., New South Wales, Australia". Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  15. ^ "Three Mile diggings, Carcoar, Bathurst Co., New South Wales, Australia". Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  16. ^ "THE TOWN OF CARCOAR AND DISTRICT". Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932). 17 June 1899. p. 13. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  17. ^ Freed, Jamie (4 May 2007). "Explorers pegging NSW for uranium". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  18. ^ Mudd, Gavin (14 July 2002). "Uranium In Australia : A Detailed Timeline 1869 to 1969". Australia's Uranium Resources. The Sustainable Energy & Anti-Uranium Service. Archived from the original on 8 September 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  19. ^ "Carcoar Mine (Carcoar cobalt mine; Wilsons mine; Wilsons quarry), Carcoar, Bathurst Co., New South Wales, Australia". Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  20. ^ "Sketch map showing proposed Federal Territory and capital site at Forest Reefs [cartographic material] : Parishes of Calvert, Beaufort, Lindsay, Errol, Belubula & Blake, County of Bathurst N.S.W. 1900 / compiled, drawn and printed at the Department of Lands, Sydney N.S.W." Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  21. ^ "Old Rectory". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H00323. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  22. ^ "Carcoar Railway Station group". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H01110. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  23. ^ "Carcoar School of Arts". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H00266. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  24. ^ "Saddlery, The". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H00328. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  25. ^ "Statistics by Catalogue Number". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  26. ^ "Search Census data". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 8 January 2024.

External links[edit]

Media related to Carcoar, New South Wales at Wikimedia Commons