Carcoar is a small town in New South Wales, it is on the Mid Western Highway west of Sydney and south west of Bathurst.
This little town in NSW has been around since the early 1800’s, it is situated in a valley and has parts of the town divided and situated either side of the Belubula River, the town has a population of around the 220 people mark.
A few little things about Carcoar before I run through a bit of its history.
Carcoar has been classified by the National Trust, this is due to the number of intact 19th century buildings in the town.
The original occupants were probably the Wiradjuri Aborigine and the name of the town Carcoar is a Gundungura word which means either frog or kookaburra.
The town of Carcoar was where Australia’s first documented uranium deposit is, this deposit was located within a cobalt mine and was in the form of copper uranite ore.
George Evans was the first European to travel through the Carcoar area, he was a surveyor and was travelling from Bathurst and set up his camp at the base of Mount Macquarie at the head Coombing Creek, this area of hills and valleys is now know as Carcoar, this was in 1815.
After this, the first settlers started to arrive in 1821.
In the area the first official land grant, which comprised of 560 acres, was issued to Mr Thomas Icely in 1829, he named this grant Coombing Park.
After his grant was issued Mr Icely then requested in 1838 that a village be established to service his large granted pastoral estate, he requested that the Surveyor General establish Carcoar to provide law, order and also necessary services to the whole district.
In 1839 Carcoar was gazette becoming just the third settlement west of the Blue Mountains to be gazette.
After, in 1840, the first allotments were sold in the town and proceeded to sell into 1841.
Bush rangers and renegade convicts were starting to be a problem in the area through this time of the township being formed, with this happening martial law and the withdrawal of all convict privileges being threatened.
The capture of the bushranger Curran and also the arrival of a town magistrate and more police saw things in the area calm down.
In the initial stages of the township being set up the main source of income was agriculture, but iron ore, cobalt and copper soon were to add to the wealth of the district.
By the 1850’s Carcoar was the second largest town west of the Blue Mountains, it became the main banking and administrative centre for the area and three coaches ran between Bathurst and Carcoar.
In the 1850’s gold was discovered and business in the area began to flourish.
In 1857 Carcoar’s public school was opened, it is still a school since that day, which makes it one of the oldest continuous running schools in Australian history.
In 1860, gold was discovered west of the town and so this started the decline as people and wealth moved west.
During the 1860’s the bushrangers started taking an interest in Carcoar.
During this time in 1863 Johnny Gilbert and John O’Meally attempted Australia’s first daylight bank robbery of the Commercial Bank, this bank building still stands today, there were many other bushranger incidents during this time, Ben Hall and Frank Gardiner were in the area too and up to no good.
The 1870’s came and this saw the government building a large amount of public buildings in the township, during this time Coombing Park was supplying iron ore to the Lithgow steelworks.
Railway construction was delayed to the town when the railway went to Blayney in 1874, this was due to the township being at the bottom of a steep valley, Blayney had, at this time, replaced Carcoar as the major service centre in the district.
The Municipality of Carcoar was finally formed in 1879, the first Mayor at this time was Barnard Stimpson.
The 1880’s came and the population was in decline in Carcoar.
The rail line finally arrived in Carcoar in 1888 with the completion of the extension of the main southern line.
In the 1980’s the rail services were suspended between Cowra and Blayney, this included Carcoar, this section was later reopened by the Lachlan Valley Railway which run tourist trains from Cowra to Blayney and Canowindra, and now they have moved into general freight haulage too.
With the rail line closing and the Mid Western Highway by passing the town the history of Carcoar reads like many that have run the same fate, a gradual decline in population and also business leaves Carcoar as a little historical village that still has plenty to offer anyone that travels through the area.
It is still a historic town with a large number of well preserved buildings with an English village feel to it.
There is still plenty to do in this area if you are a tourist and passing through, it was hard to find out much about the more modern history of the town, the residents have preserved the history of the town well and you can walk through the streets and view many of the churches, public buildings and houses there, these include the many museums and the court house, in the area is the dam and lots of other things to do and I’ve noticed also the community is very active in local events and there is always something on or happening, oh of course there is still mining in the area too.