Dungog, New South Wales
New South Wales
View of Dungog from Hospital Road
|Population||2,131 (2011 census)|
|Time zone||AEST (UTC+10)|
|• Summer (DST)||AEDT (UTC+11)|
|State electorate(s)||Upper Hunter|
Dungog is a country town on the Williams River in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia. Located in the middle of dairy and timber country, it is the centre of the Dungog Shire local government area and at the 2011 census it had a population of 2,131 people. The area includes the Fosterton Loop, 22 kilometres (14 mi) of road, used in the annual Pedalfest. A small portion of Dungog lies in the Mid-Coast Council LGA.
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By 1825 Robert Dawson had named the Barrington area, while surveyor Thomas Florance named the Chichester River in 1827. Two years later George Boyle White explored the sources of the Allyn and Williams rivers. Grants along the Williams followed to men such as Duncan Mackay, John Verge, James Dowling (later a NSW Chief Justice) and others, who, with their assigned convicts, began clearing land and building houses around a district that was by the early 1830s centred on a small settlement first known as Upper William. With a Court of Petty Sessions in 1833 and gazetted in 1838 as the village of Dungog (a local Gringai word), it had a court house, lockup and an increasing number of inns, shops and houses.
Lord St, as were Dowling, Mackay, Chapman, Hooke, Brown and Myles, were all named after landowners at the time surveyor Francis Rusden drew up his generous 1838 grid plan of Dungog's streets. The descendants of some of these, notably the Dowlings, Mackays and Hookes, still live in and around Dungog. Others, such as John Lord, went bankrupt or, as did Myles, sold out early and moved to Sydney.
Dungog village gradually grew from a mere 25 houses in the 1846 census (three of stone or brick). By 1854, four licences for publicans were granted in Dungog: James Stephenson, Dungog Inn; Joseph Finch, Settlers’ Arms; Joseph Robson, Trades’ Arms; and Edward Tate, Durham Hotel. Two of these continue to operate today.
The plan and street pattern of 1838 gave Dungog generous sized lots that, over the years, have allowed people to build homes with ample space in between, as well as to enjoy cow and horse paddocks close by. Before the 1920s there was relatively little building beyond Lord St. John Wilson, born in Dungog in 1854, described the town as a ‘sea of bush and scrub, with a house here and there’, and with bullock teams and drays having ‘to wend their way between stumps and saplings’. Even in 1892, at the opening of Dungog Cottage Hospital on Hospital Hill to the west, the trek up was largely through open countryside.
Boosted by the dairy industry, which began to develop in the 1890s, Dungog grew more rapidly, receiving a further boost with the arrival of the railway in 1911. Many of the finest houses and commercial buildings still to be seen here were built between the end of the nineteenth and the first two decades of the following century. Coolalie (206 Dowling St) and Coimbra (72 Dowling St), as well as the then Angus & Coote, now J A Rose building (146-148 Dowling St) and the Dark stores (184-190 Dowling St) all date from this period of expansion. All, as the Dungog Chronicle continuously proclaimed, were ‘up to date’, and as the Dungog Chronicle also pointed out, modern improvements such as the ‘water service and electric light service has made Dungog a desirable place to live in’. The architects and builders used for these projects were locals; such as C H Button, Town Clerk and architect, or J A Hall, builder, as well as those from Maitland, such as architect J A Pender.
Around 1926, Dowling Street was first fully kerbed and the present alignment of the shop facades was established. Money and new businesses were entering the town at this time. While things may have slowed a little thereafter, many new buildings and houses continued to be built in the following years. The Catholic community built a new place of worship in Brown St in 1933, replacing the church that had stood in Dowling St since 1870 (where the Tall Timbers Motel now stands). In 1935 the Bank of NSW replaced its old building on the corner of Dowling and Mackay Sts with one in the, then, very modern Georgian Revival Style.
The Second World War was just beginning when the Dungog Chronicle reported: Recent weeks have seen a progressive building campaign in Dungog. Apart from the palatial new building for the Royal Hotel erected and furnished at a cost of some ₤20,000, and remodelling of the Court House Hotel and Bank Hotel, nine new residences have been completed within the past month.
In addition to these works, the Education Department is clearing and grading the playing grounds at the public school, and has erected an ornate brick fence along those grounds on the Dowling-street frontage, whilst the Municipal Council has had two chains of kerbing and guttering carried out in Mary-street. (Dungog Chronicle, 24 November 1939)
Since the 1950s, few new public buildings and shops have been erected but homes have continued to be built in weatherboard, brick, fibro or concrete; following the fashions of the time. While dairying has declined, the beef industry has remained, and although most timber is now locked up in national parks, many visitors come these days to enjoy the area's natural beauty. This trend has also meant that numerous older homes have been saved from deterioration by ‘tree-changers’, who have increasingly bought and renovated older homes in Dungog and its surrounding countryside.
Popular Dungog events are the Dungog Film Festival hosted at the James Theatre, the Dungog Agricultural Show, Pedalfest, the Dungog Rodeo, and the Thunderbolt Rally. Each of these events showcase local produce and talent and bring tourists to the region.
Dungog is the home of the James Theatre, the oldest fully enclosed purpose-built cinema still operating in Australia, located at 6 Brown Street. It receives new movie releases soon after cinemas in more populated areas. The Dungog Film Society has been operating from the cinema since 1992 and screens fine films monthly to locals as well as bringing Flickerfest to Dungog and an AGOG weekend of foreign films in September. The theatre is the venue for the Dungog Film Festival, which is held annually.
The theatre was first opened on land of James Stuart in December 1912. Originally an open-air theatre, it was roofed by 1914 and in 1918 an enclosed hall built. In order to accommodate "talkie" movies and to provide improved dance facilities, Stuart commissioned major reconstruction works that commenced in 1930. These works were designed by the Newcastle architect, William Jeater.
The reconstruction works included construction of a stage, remodelling the street façade into the Spanish Mission Style, a new dance floor, new northern entrance, a projection room above the foyer and seating arrangement for 400.
It retains the simplicity of a Picture Theatre built in a small country town during the Great Depression. The building is architecturally significant as one of only four Picture Theatres in the New South Wales with Spanish Mission Style facades. The James Theatre Dungog Community Centre has been owned by the Dungog Shire Council since 1979.
Dungog Film Festival
The Dungog Film Festival, inaugurated on 31 May 2007, is a film festival which serves the dual purposes of encouraging the local tourism industry and showcasing Australian cinema. It takes place over four days and some of the proceeds go towards preserving the James Theatre. It is held annually in May and is open to Australian filmmakers only.
Gentlemen of the Road
Dungog hosted the 'Gentlemen of the Road' music festival on 20 October 2012. The Gentlemen of the Road is a single performance special event organised by band Mumford and Sons, for which they select a remote town in the country they are touring and hold a day-long music festival featuring local artists and bands with which they are friends. The "Dungog Stopover" featured Husky, Matt Corby, Willy Mason, Sarah Blasko, Yacht Club DJs, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and headline act Mumford and Sons. Over 13,000 people attended the event held in the town's showground. Attendees were accommodated on campgrounds at the edge of the town, while the band members and entourages stayed at motels and pubs in Dungog.
Dungog High School has approximately 680 students, Children from nearly all of the surrounding towns (e.g.: Clarence Town, Gresford, Paterson, Vacy, Wallarobba, Martins Creek, East Gresford, and Glen Martin) attend.
Historical Society and museum
Founded in 1963, Dungog Historical Society is located in the former School of Arts building which also houses the Dungog Museum. The wide collection showcases Dungog's history and heritage, including information and material about local aboriginals and family history.
The core of the display is Dungog: The Making of a Community, telling the story of Dungog via different themes. The colourful panels were produced with a grant from the NSW Ministry of the Arts. Temporary exhibitions are also held.
The town's railway station has been served by the North Coast railway line since 1911. The Great White Train visit in August 1926 was attended by a large crowd. There are approximately six local and six long-distance services to Dungog each day. All services are run by NSW TrainLink.
Dungog Soccer Club – "The Boomerangs"
Dungog is the home of Dungog Soccer Club. Nicknamed the "Boomerangs", Dungog compete in the Zone League competitions in the Northern NSW Football Federation. The Boomerangs recovered from a slow start in the 2012 season to make the grand final however fell foul of Stockton Sand-Bites FC who defeated them 3-1 in the decider. The Club has a strongly established juniors-base with 10 teams competing in competitions across the Hunter Valley.
Dungog also has a Rugby League club called the Dungog Warriors which has teams competing in junior and senior competitions. Additionally, Dungog has a Cricket Club and a Netball Association. Dungog has two squash courts although only one of these is used for play - the other having been commandeered as a storage room for an adjoining service station. A fiercely contested A grade competition is conducted on Tuesday evenings between five dedicated players desperate to relive the glory years of their youth. However, the advancing age of the players and a concomitant middle aged spread has meant injuries preventing play are commonplace and in general, Karl and Dave are the only die-hards to show up regularly. Dave is the reigning champion.
The town has 6 tennis courts which serve for children's tennis coaching in addition to primary and high school competitions. Many residents ride horses and compete in local rodeos.
- Kevin Bacon - Olympic equestrian
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- Michael Williams, Ah Dungog (Dungog Historical Society, 2011)
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- "Dungog Film Festival 2009 – A Practical Guide". Urban Cinefile. 23 April 2009. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- WHAT IS A STOPOVER? gentlemenoftheroad.com. Retrieved 2 August 2015
- Richards, Dean (25 October 2012). "REVIEW: GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD – DUNGOG 2012". adamnoteve.net. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
- "How to enrol at a Public School – Dungog High School". New South Wales Department of Education and Training. 8 November 2007. Retrieved 14 October 2008.
- "GREAT WHITE TRAIN.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842-1954). NSW: National Library of Australia. 31 August 1926. p. 10. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
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