Coordinates: 31°29′59″S 145°49′55″E / 31.49972°S 145.83194°E / -31.49972; 145.83194
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

New South Wales
Marshall Street, the main street of Cobar. Cobar retains much of its late 19th-century architecture.
Cobar is located in New South Wales
Coordinates31°29′59″S 145°49′55″E / 31.49972°S 145.83194°E / -31.49972; 145.83194
Population3,990 (2016 census)[1]
Elevation260 m (853 ft)
LGA(s)Cobar Shire
State electorate(s)Barwon
Federal division(s)Parkes
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
25.4 °C
78 °F
12.9 °C
55 °F
392.3 mm
15.4 in

Cobar is a town in central western New South Wales, Australia whose economy is based mainly upon base metals and gold mining. The town is 712 km (442 mi) by road northwest of the state capital, Sydney. It is at the crossroads of the Kidman Way and Barrier Highway. The town and the local government area, the Cobar Shire, are on the eastern edge of the outback. At the 2016 census, the town of Cobar had a population of 3,990.[1] The Shire has a population of approximately 4,700 and an area of 44,065 square kilometres (17,014 sq mi).[2]

Many sights of cultural interest can be found in and around Cobar. The town retains much of its colonial 19th-century architecture. The Towsers Huts, 3 km south of town but currently inaccessible to the public, are ruins of very simple colonial dwellings from around 1870. The ancient Aboriginal rock paintings at Mount Grenfell are some of the largest and most important in Australia. The new Cobar Sound Chapel was opened in April 2022.[3]


Indigenous origins[edit]

The Cobar area is part of the traditional territory of the Wongaibon people (within the Ngiyampaa language group associated with the arid plains and rocky hill country of the Central West area of NSW bordered by the Lachlan, Darling-Barwon and Bogan rivers). The name ‘Cobar’ is derived from a Ngiyampaa word – variously transcribed as kubbur, kuparr, gubarr or cuburra – for a water-hole and quarry where pigments of ochre, kaolin and blue and green copper minerals were mined for ceremonial use.[4][5] Other sources claim the Aboriginal word means ‘red earth’ or ‘burnt earth’ (the ochre used for ceremonial body paint).[6][7]

The Mount Grenfell Historic Site located north-west of Cobar is an important traditional meeting place with ceremonial significance. Extensive rock art at the site contains ochre and kaolin paintings of human and animal figures as well as hand stencils.[8]


To the pastoralists who had taken up runs along the Darling River during the 1850s the Cobar area was a waterless region between rivers. As pastoral stations became more established, tanks and wells were constructed to allow stock to be grazed in areas away from permanent watercourses (known as ‘back stations). By the mid-1860s back stations such as ‘Booroomugga’ and ‘Buckwaroon’ had been established in the Cobar locality (within the Warrego Pastoral District).[9]

New Cobar Open Cut Mine

Copper ore[edit]

In September 1870 three contract well-sinkers, Charles Campbell, Thomas Hartman and George Gibb, were traveling south from Bourke to the Lachlan River. They had engaged two Aboriginal men, Frank and Boney, to guide them via the permanent watering places in the dry country between the rivers. Along the way they camped beside the Kubbur waterhole. The men noted the green and blue staining at the waterhole and collected some rock samples. On their journey further south the well-sinkers stopped at a shanty operated by Henry Kruge (near to the future site of Gilgunnia). Kruge’s wife, Sidwell, was from Cornwall and her family had emigrated to South Australia in the late-1840s and mined copper ore at Burra. She was able to identify the rock as containing copper. Sidwell Kruge's assessment was confirmed when her husband smelted some of the ore samples in his blacksmith's forge. The three men then returned to Bourke, intending to secure the ground around the Kubbur waterhole.[10][4]

Great Cobar Copper Mining Syndicate's Refinery, Lithgow

In partnership with Bourke businessman Joseph Becker, Campbell, Hartman and Gibb took up a mineral conditional purchase of 40 acres at the locality. Shortly afterwards the Cobar Copper Mining Company was formed, and the lease of the mine was transferred to the company.[5][11] In May 1871 it was reported that there had been “a call for tenders for drawing in copper ore from Cobar”.[12] In July 1871 a meeting was held in Bourke “of gentlemen interested in the Cobar copper mine” and shares were “eagerly bought at £15 per share”.[13] By the following November it was reported that “the affairs of the Cobar Copper Mine Company are in a flourishing condition, shares having rushed up from £15 to £70 and £80 per share”.[14]

In December 1871 a correspondent visited “the new Cobar copper mine” in company with Captain Lean, the newly-appointed mining manager. The mine had been in operation for the previous four months. It was situated “on a Pine ridge, and throughout the whole length of the ridge (about half-a-mile) indications of ore are apparent”. The ore was varied, “consisting of blue and red carbonate, red and black oxide, and is of very high quality”. The writer was of the opinion the Cobar mine “promises to be one of the richest copper mines Australia has yet produced”.[15]

The South Cobar Mining Company built a furnace at Cobar and in May 1875 commenced smelting operations. Soon afterwards two additional furnaces and a refinery were built. In December 1875 the Cobar Copper Mining Company amalgamated with the South Cobar Mining Company to form the Great Cobar Copper Mining Company Ltd.[16] It and subsequent companies operated a number of light railways[17] carrying ore and similar material, as well as timber for mine supports. Cobar and many mining outskirts accommodated the miners who travelled to the area in the late 1880s. The overwhelming majority of these were of Cornish Australian stock at the time.[18]


Although Cobar is best known as a copper mining area, it has also been a significant goldfield. The first significant gold producing mine at Cobar was the Chesney Mine. The New Occidental Mine is regarded as having been the most productive gold mine in New South Wales. Gold was also produced by refining the copper smelted from copper ores, this was first done in the Great Cobar electrolytic copper refinery at Lithgow.[19]

Cobar township[edit]

In March 1881 the settlement at Cobar was described as “large and scattered, as mining towns generally are, composed chiefly of huts and cottages, which lie about in all directions and cover an extensive area of ground”. The population was estimated to number 2,500 consisting “principally of miners and their families”. The township was “divided into three portions”, described as “the Government Township, the Private Township (or that upon the land taken up by or belonging to the company working the mine), and Cornish Town”, with “the mine and its appurtenances in the centre”. Most of the houses, places of business and public buildings were located in the Private Township. In the surveyed Government Township there were “very few houses indeed”. Cornish Town was described as “pretty thickly populated”. The “want of water” was described as “the great drawback to the comfort of the inhabitants of Cobar” and on a number of occasions “the people have been upon the verge of a water famine”. Government-constructed tanks relying on rainfall was the principal means of household supply and the watering of stock, supplemented by “small tanks sunk in the ground” beside many of the houses.[20]

A description of Cobar published in April 1888 noted that “the houses generally are substantially built; many of them being of brick”, with a number of “weather-board and iron buildings and some adobe or clay houses” scattered throughout the town. The courthouse was described as “a handsome brick structure in Barton-street” with a gaol next to it. The township had nine hotels, “the principal ones being the Cobar and the Commercial”, and two banks, “the Commercial and the Joint Stock”. The writer was of the opinion that “Cobar owes its existence as a town largely to the Great Cobar Copper Mine, although the pastoral properties have also contributed in a great measure to make it a fairly prosperous inland settlement”.[21]

Several fine heritage buildings from the late 1880s/early 1900s settlement are still in existence, including the Great Western Hotel (1898), claimed to have the longest verandah (at 91 metres) in New South Wales,[22] the Cobar Post Office (1885), the Cobar Court House (1887) and Court House Hotel (1895) in Barton Street, as well as the Cobar Heritage and Visitor Information Centre, located in the former Mines Office (1910). On Hillston Road southeast out of town is Fort Bourke Hill, which affords a view of the town, as well as the historic Towser's Huts, a series of stone miners' cottages dating back as early as the 1890s, possibly even the 1870s, and built by an Italian miner by the name of Antonio Tozzi.

At its peak, Cobar had a population of 10,000. It also became the regional centre for nearby mining villages, such as Canbelego, Mount Drysdale, Elouera, Illewong, Wrightville, Dapville, and The Peak, and some further away such as Nymagee and Shuttleton. However, mining operations in the area had virtually ceased by the early 1920s. In March 1919, the vast Great Cobar Mine, Cobar's main employer, closed.[23] The Chesney Mine had used the Great Cobar's smelters, and it too closed in March 1919.[24] Then came the unexpected closure, due to an underground fire, of the C.S.A. Mine, located to the north of the Cobar township, at Elouera, in March 1920.[25] The Gladstone Mine, at Wrightville closed, around May 1920, because it was reliant upon the copper smelters at the C.S.A. Mine, which closed at that time.[26][27] The Occidental gold mine, at Wrightville, closed in July 1921.[28][29][30] Last, in September 1922, hard rock mining ceased at the Mount Boppy Gold Mine, further away at Canbelego.[31] In less than three years, all the major mines in the Cobar region had closed. The town was saved by the reopening of the old Occidental gold mine, in 1933, thereafter known as the New Occidental mine,[32] and the Chesney Mine in 1937.[33] These mines both closed in 1952.[34][35]

By the 1930s the town's population had dropped to little over 1,000, only to rise again and stabilise at around 3,500 through the 1970s and early 1980s. Copper mining was intermittent until 1965 when full-time operations resumed.[36] In the 1980s, gold, silver, lead and zinc were discovered in the area, which led to a further population increase. The town's current positive economic development is due to the affluence of the mining boom. Three important mining belts are operational in the Cobar area: the Cobar belt, the Canbelego belt and the Girilambone belt. Visits to mine sites may be arranged through the Cobar Heritage and Visitor Information Centre overlooking the open cut mine. The Festival of the Miners' Ghost, held during the last weekend in October, is a festival celebrating the spirits of the old miners.

The area of Cobar also includes the now empty sites of the former villages of Wrightville and Dapville,[37] and the informal settlement of Cornish Town.[38] Further away, but at locations now within the area of Cobar, are the empty sites of two other former mining settlements, Illewong and Elouera.[39] There was also a village site at The Peak, proclaimed in 1897.[40][41]

Heritage listings[edit]

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

  • Nyngan–Cobar railway: Cobar railway station[42]
  • 47 Linsley Street: Cobar Post Office[43]
  • Nyngan Road (Barrier Highway): Cobar Visitor's Centre / Great Cobar Heritage Centre (also known as Cobar Pastoral & Mining Museum; Mining Administration Offices, Great Cobar Mines)[44]
  • Nyngan Road (Barrier Highway): Mines Office (former)[45]

New Occidental Hotel fire[edit]

The New Occidental Hotel was a pub located on the edge of town and was built in 1879;[46] it was known as the Star Hotel at that time. It became a significant local spot for miners as well as a common meeting place for groups and clubs in the area. In August 2014 a fire engulfed the building and resulted in the death of a firefighter who died of his injuries at Dubbo Base Hospital.[47][46]


Historical population
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics data.[48][49]

According to the 2016 census of Population, there were 3,990 people in Cobar.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 11.8% of the population.
  • 78.5% of people were born in Australia and 83.4% of people only spoke English at home.
  • The most common responses for religion were Catholic 33.8%, No Religion 18.9% and Anglican 17.1%.[1]


The Cobar economy relies heavily on trade with the local mines and their employees, and consequently on world metal prices and hence is subject to great fluctuations. During 2008, after a fall of 75% in world zinc prices, one local mine cut 540 of its 655 jobs, with flow-on effects felt by many other businesses. Over the course of that year Cobar's workforce reduced by 10%.[50] The town has increasing benefit from being the seat of the local government area. Cobar has two primary schools, a high school, an activities youth centre and a 31-bed hospital for acute care.

Cobar Quid[edit]

The local council supports a local currency called Cobar Quid. Established in 2003[51] by the Cobar Business Association Inc. (CBA), Cobar Quid is a currency that encourages its residents to shop locally. This local currency is a minted medallion that can be exchanged for goods and services with accepting local businesses.

The CBA sells the coins to the local business in values of $5, $10, $20 and $50 values, and the medallions are minted by the Royal Australian Mint.

Business can redeem the medallions for cash which is controlled by the Cobar Shire Council.


Cobar has a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh) with hot summers and cool winters. It has a median annual rainfall of 390mm. Rainfall is extremely variable, particularly in late summer and early spring. The highest rain falls have been in excess of 200mm in any one month. Rainfall is generally only about 4 days per month. Very sunny, the area receives 163.6 days of bright clear skies per year.

The average relative humidity in Cobar during the summer is about 30% in the afternoon and about 50% at 9am. In winter it is about 45% at 3pm, and about 75% at 9am. [citation needed]

Annual mean wind speed at 9am and 3 pm is about 12.2 km/h with lesser speeds on winter mornings.[52][53]

Climate data for Cobar Mo, New South Wales, Australia (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1962–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 47.0
Mean maximum °C (°F) 40.3
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 35.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 28.4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 21.4
Mean minimum °C (°F) 15.7
Record low °C (°F) 10.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 39.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 3.9 3.4 2.9 2.4 3.4 4.4 3.6 2.8 3.5 3.7 4.7 3.9 42.6
Average relative humidity (%) 35.0 41.0 40.0 41.5 54.0 63.5 61.0 49.5 41.5 35.0 36.5 32.5 44.3
Average dew point °C (°F) 9.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 331.7 279.7 306.9 273.0 238.7 198.0 223.2 269.7 276.0 300.7 297.0 322.4 3,317
Mean daily sunshine hours 10.7 9.9 9.9 9.1 7.7 6.6 7.2 8.7 9.2 9.7 9.9 10.4 9.1
Source 1: Australian Bureau of Meteorology (temperature, precipitation, humidity, sunshine- 1991–2020 normals)[54]
Source 2: Australian Bureau of Meteorology (1962–present extremes)[55]

Notable people[edit]



Train and Bus Services[edit]

NSW TrainLink operates a coach service from Dubbo. The train line through Cobar is today used primarily for industrial train services. See Cobar railway line.


Cobar Airport is a small, local airport located 5.6 km southwest of town.


  1. ^ a b c Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Cobar (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 3 September 2017. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ Archived 28 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 7 January 2010
  3. ^ "Sunset serenade for Cobar Sound Chapel's official opening Cobar Sound – The Cobar Weekly". Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Cobar Founding Fathers: Excepts from the book of this title by William Clelland". Celtic Council of Australia. CCA Inc. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  5. ^ a b EMM Sydney (for Peak Gold Mines Pty Ltd) (December 2020). New Cobar Complex Project State Significant Development (SSD-10419): Statement of Heritage Impact (Report). EMM Consulting Pty Ltd. J190278 RP13. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  6. ^ Donaldson, Tamsin. "Ngiyampaa". Macquarie Aboriginal Words. Sydney: Macquarie Library. p. 38.
  7. ^ Reed, A.W. Aboriginal Place Names. Sydney 1967: Reed New Holland. p. 26.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  8. ^ "Learn more about why this park is special". Mount Grenfell Historic Site. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  9. ^ Accepted Tenders for Runs, New South Wales Government Gazette, 27 October 1865 (Issue No. 229), page 229.
  10. ^ Burgess, Neville (2006). The Great Cobar. Cobar: The Great Cobar Heritage Centre. ISBN 0646457969.
  11. ^ The Late Mr. Joseph Becker, Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), 27 April 1878, page 13.
  12. ^ Bourke, Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 25 May 1871, page 3.
  13. ^ Bourke, Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 13 July 1871, page 4.
  14. ^ Notes from Fort Bourke, The Herald (Melbourne), 30 November 1871, page 3.
  15. ^ New Copper Mine, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 December 1871, page 6.
  16. ^ Mining Intelligence, South Australian Register (Adelaide), 18 May 1876, page 7.
  17. ^ Shoebridge, J.W. The Railways of The Great Cobar, Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, September 1969 pp. 189-218
  18. ^ Jupp, James; Jupp, Director Centre for Immigration and Multicultural Studies James (1 October 2001). The Australian People: An Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521807890. Archived from the original on 28 October 2018. Retrieved 15 September 2018 – via Google Books.
  19. ^ "PRIMEFACT (No. 555) - Cobar's mining history" (PDF). N.S.W. Department of Primary Industry. February 2007. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 June 2014.
  20. ^ The Industries of the Colony: XXXII. – Cobar and Its Copper Mine, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 March 1881, page 7.
  21. ^ In the Cobar District, Australian Town and Country Journal, 28 April 1888, page 30.
  22. ^ "Great Western Hotel". New South Wales Heritage Database. Office of Environment & Heritage. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  23. ^ "COBAR THREATENED WITH EXTINCTION". Sydney Mail. 19 March 1919. p. 17. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  24. ^ McKillop, Bob (October 2004). "Mining Railways of Cobar - 7. Other Mines, 1871-1922" (PDF). Light Railways (179). Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc.: 4, 5, 6.
  25. ^ "FIRE IN C.S.A. MINE". Sydney Morning Herald. 16 July 1920. p. 9. Retrieved 16 January 2023.
  26. ^ "N.S.W. MINING NEWS". Australian Worker. 22 April 1920. p. 20. Retrieved 17 January 2023.
  27. ^ "Mining News". Western Age. 27 August 1920. p. 2. Retrieved 17 January 2023.
  28. ^ "The Occidental Gold Mine". Western Age. 29 July 1921. p. 3. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  29. ^ "NEW SOUTH WALES MINING NEWS". Australian Worker. 18 August 1921. p. 14. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  30. ^ "OCCIDENTAL CONSOLIDATED, N.L." Sydney Morning Herald. 5 September 1921. p. 11. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  31. ^ "TOWNSHIP DOOMED". Daily Telegraph (Sydney). 6 September 1921. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  32. ^ "COBAR GOLD MINE REOPENED". Courier-Mail. 8 August 1935. p. 15. Retrieved 23 January 2023.
  33. ^ "New Occidental's Chesney Mine". Sun. 18 May 1937. p. 4. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  34. ^ "NEW OCCIDENTAL MINE AT COBAR TO CLOSE". Barrier Daily Truth. 13 October 1952. p. 1. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  35. ^ "New Occidental Loss". Kalgoorlie Miner. 29 September 1953. p. 7. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  36. ^ "About Us - CSA". Archived from the original on 30 March 2018. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  37. ^ "Map of the village of Dapville [cartographic material] : Parish of Cobar, County of Robinson, the Land District of Cobar, NSW 1902". Trove. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  38. ^ "Appendix L - New Cobar Complex Project State Significant Development (SSD-10419)". pp. 27, 28, 29.
  39. ^ Johnson, R.S (1908). "Map of the town of Elouera : Parish of Kaloogleguy, County of Robinson, Land District of Cobar, Western Division N.S.W." Department of Lands, Sydney, N.S.W. Retrieved 14 January 2023.
  40. ^ "Government Gazette Proclamations and Legislation". New South Wales Government Gazette. 9 January 1897. p. 127. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  41. ^ "CANCELLATION OF THE DESIGN OF THE VILLAGE OF THE PEAK, PARISH OF COBAR, COUNTY OF ROBINSON, SHIRE OF COBAR". Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales. 30 July 1971. p. 2826. Retrieved 19 January 2023.
  42. ^ "Cobar Railway Station and yard". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H01114. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  43. ^ "Cobar Post Office (Place ID 106178)". Australian Heritage Database. Australian Government. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  44. ^ "Great Cobar Heritage Centre & Cobar Miners Heritage Park". New South Wales Heritage Database. Office of Environment & Heritage. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  45. ^ "Mines Office (former), Nyngan Rd, Cobar, NSW, Australia (Place ID 534)". Australian Heritage Database. Australian Government. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  46. ^ a b Wilson, Cameron (26 August 2014). "Old miners' pub destroyed by fire in country NSW". ABC Radio National. ABC. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  47. ^ "Firefighter killed while fighting pub blaze in Cobar". Daily Telegraph. News Corp Australia. 17 August 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  48. ^ "Statistics by Catalogue Number". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  49. ^ "Search Census data". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  50. ^ "Error". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  51. ^ "ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT". Cobar Shire Council. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  52. ^ Archived 30 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine Climate of Cobar, Retrieved 24 January 2009
  53. ^ "BOM - Cobar weather statistics". Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  54. ^ "Cobar Mo, NSW Climate (1991–2020 normals)". Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  55. ^ "Cobar Mo, NSW Climate (1962–present extremes)". Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 15 May 2022.

External links[edit]