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Produced by The Cobar Weekly in conjunction with Klae McGuinness Photography

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the dirt

on Cobar




The Copper City

Experience Cobar

A History of Cobar




The Iron Ringer

Mining is in Cobar’s Soul

Local Events




Community is Cobar

Heritage Preserved

Our Sporting Identity

Cover photo: Did you pick it? Locals see it all the time— now take a look at the Slag Dump in a new light.


Photographer Klae McGuinness has captured the way the morning light turns the waste rock into brilliant shades of copper and red, which stands out against Cobar ’s brilliant big open sky.




A Game of Our Own

An Iconic Home



Community Directory

Creative Cobar

Advertiser Index


46 Town Map

Cobar Through a Lens

This page: Just outside town, at the ‘Silver Tank’, Klae captured one of Cobar’s famous sunsets.


There’s no doubting copper is a part of Cobar’s soul. No matter which local tale you believe, either way the town takes its name and much of its identity from the reddish-brown element. Whether it be the colours of the surrounding landscape, the metal mined from beneath the surface which created the wealth that built the town, or the name given by the Ngiyampaa people describing the ochre rock—Cobar is the Copper City. Today, Cobar is synonymous with mining. Take a look around the town—it’s hard to miss the reminders of our mining history. From the remnants of the Great Cobar Copper Mine as you enter town, to the grand old main street pubs built to capture some of the newfound wealth of the miners who struck it rich back in the 1890s. It was the boom of the 1960s, with the rebirth of CSA Mine, which brought Cobar new housing developments plus a new pool, high school and hospital. But Cobar is more than just mines. It’s a town of tough characters with hearts of gold. A town with a history of overcoming adversities like distance, drought and downturn. Ask any local their favourite thing about Cobar and the answer is always the same—it’s the people that make it a community like no other.


A local legend If you’ve chatted to a long-term Cobarian, you’ve probably noticed there’s two distinct “types”. There’s those who profess their love for the town and boast of their decades living here, but finish their story with that wistful sentiment: “I’m no Iron Ringer though”. Then there’s those who wear the title of ‘Iron Ringer’ like a badge of honour, a proud part of their identity. The widely accepted meaning of the title is someone who was born in Cobar, and most locals attribute the term to eminent Cobar identity Clarrie Pretty, the Secretary of Cobar Mines Pty Ltd. Clarrie was a Cobar-minded man serving on countless committees, known for his exceptional public speaking skills and held in high esteem by the community. Cobar’s fortunes have always been at the mercy of the mining industry and the population fluctuated significantly in the early years with the cycle of boom and bust which hit the mines. Scores of families were forced to leave town due to mine closures in 1918 and again in the 1930s, but there was always a core group who stayed on. It was those people born, bred and remaining in Cobar who Clarrie dubbed ‘Iron Ringers’. Legend has it that Clarrie was adamant about what made an Iron Ringer. There are plenty of locals who have devoted their lives to the Cobar community but are still outside that iron ring. Take solicitor Geoffrey Langford: his grandfather, mother and brother are part of that exclusive club; he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Cobar history and local family connections; he has spent his life working in a local law practice as well as running the family farm ‘Hillview’ just outside town; yet he is not an Iron Ringer.



Geoffrey, confessing to being a “difficult baby”, was born in Sydney for medical reasons. Similarly, community identities such as tireless community volunteer Molly Stamp (born in Canbelego); our mayor of nearly 17 years Lilliane Brady (who only came to town in 1970); or local historian John Collins, despite devoting their lives to the town, cannot claim the title of Iron Ringer. These days there is plenty of conjecture over what it means to be a “proper Iron Ringer”. Some say it’s as if those born and bred in Cobar are held together like an iron ring which can never be broken. For some the definition is not just as simple as being born here—a person needs to also spend a certain number of decades in town to be considered a true iron ringer. For others you’re not really an iron ringer unless you’re at least second generation Cobar-born. As times change the number of Iron Ringers is declining. Cobar Hospital no longer has birthing capabilities, so as a “breed”, the Iron Ringer is likely to become extinct if the term stays true to Clarrie Pretty’s original vision. Iron Ringers or not, there’s no denying that those who call Cobar home are unique, memorable, generous, extraordinary people with plenty of interesting stories to tell.




Mining Agriculture Tourism 7

Ask anyone the best thing about Cobar and invariably the answer will be the same—the people. The sense of community is what sets Cobar apart from other towns. Barry Knight, who is now spearheading the effort to create a dedicated memorial for local miners, says Cobar’s geographical isolation is actually what sets it apart from other towns. “It’s what brings the community together. The people are what make Cobar what it is,” he said. Cobar born and bred, Paige Wilson met “the love of her life” here and is now raising her two children to share her love of the community she calls home, spreading her message of positivity. “Living in outback NSW, you don’t get much better than that. You can’t teach kids the importance of community until you have lived in isolation. No town comes together like Cobar,” Paige said. It’s not just those with a lifetime connection to Cobar who are charmed by our characters according to Ben Hewlett, who arrived about six years ago and admits it took a bit to “figure out the groove” of the locals, but now “loves the place and the people in it”. He says locals, as a collective group, are “an enigma wrapped in a paradox and shrouded in a conundrum”.


Photo: Cobar residents came together to mark World Suicide Prevention Day in September 2017, releasing balloons in memory of those lost and showing their solidarity for anyone in our community struggling with mental health issues.

Brytt Moore, whose “local” credentials include being delivered by the legendary Dr Allan Brady, says Cobar’s friendly nature is unique. “Having travelled a bit, the feeling of coming home and knowing you will go down the street and smile, wave, or say hello to complete strangers is comforting.” All four agree that Cobar is strongest as a collective— and the town’s best features tend to show when times are tough. When the Hewlett family had a house fire, Ben found the outpouring from the community “amazing”. “It’s quite difficult to explain how unbelievably generous the people in this place are,” he said. Brytt, who has been involved in her fair share of fundraisers through a local charitable group, the PP Organisation, said she never ceases to be amazed by the community spirit. “I love how our community can organise a fundraising event overnight for a house fire for example. People donate what they can, even if they are not much better off themselves, because it’s Cobar,” Brytt said. Paige agrees. “When times are tough anyone in Cobar would give you the shirt off their back. A blow-in or born here, it doesn’t matter.” Brytt said she once used a video of herself performing at a fundraiser in a job interview for a camp in the USA. When she told them Cobar, a town of 4,000 people, raised $22,000 that night, they were “beyond shocked”.

Photos: (above) Barry Knight at the inaugural memorial service ‘A Night to Remember our Lost Miners’ in October 2017.

She said Cobar comes together best for the solemn occasions. Following the tragic death of local firefighter Daniel ’Howie’ Howard, Brytt said it was “truly inspirational” to see how the community came together to show their respect for Howie and support one another.

(below) Anzac Day in Cobar is one of the biggest gatherings of the community with hundreds of locals participating in, or watching, the annual parade. Sporting groups such as Cobar Pony Club (pictured) dress in their best and march to pay tribute to our returned servicemen and women before the service in Drummond Park.

Brytt, who has ridden with Cobar Pony Club in the local Anzac Day parade for 24 years, said seeing the sheer number of people who come out each year to watch the parade still sends chills through her. “It’s an amazing opportunity to honour and respect all those who fought for our country, and Cobar (and all the organisers involved) should be proud of the event they put on each year,” Brytt said. Barry said he was genuinely touched by the response to 2017’s first ever community memorial service to remember lost local miners. “For the Cobar community to come together in that way was unbelievable.” He recalled the same Cobar spirit fighting for a cause back in the 1980s, when people power won. “Nick Greiner (the NSW Premier) wanted to build a toxic waste incinerator at Canbelego. The Cobar and Canbelego committees really came together in protest, under the leadership of Michael Doumani and Kevin ‘Rusty’ Mitchell.” Ben says it’s this Cobar spirit that inspires him to get involved in local causes such as raising funds for a World War I memorial. “Anytime anyone is fundraising in Cobar it’s worthwhile—I try and help where I can,” he said.


Take a closer look at Cobar



The landmark local building was the administration offices for the Great Cobar Copper Mine and now houses a comprehensive collection ranging from Cobar’s early mining and pastoral history through to information on current mining operations. The museum houses a restored train carriage used to provide medical services which saw the creation of the Royal Far West Scheme. Barrier Highway

A deeply significant site for the Ngiyampaa people, this site boasts one of the best preserved collections of Aboriginal rock art in Australia. Visitors can enjoy 360 views from a ridge, and learn the stories of the original inhabitants of the area. 70km north west of Cobar via part gravel road


An oasis in Cobar’s hot summers, the modern facility boasts a no-depth children’s splash park, a

Easily accessible, this local water storage facility is a haven for local birds and wildlife. Take a walk around the sealed walking track, enjoy a barbecue with friends and family or simply sit and take in the peaceful surrounds. Off Belagoy St



Pick up a Mud Map from the Great Cobar Heritage Centre and wander the streets at your own pace, learning about historic buildings and sites.


thrilling water slide, plus an Olympic sized pool, heated pool, brand new barbecue facilities and recreation area, canteen and plenty of shady areas to relax. Murray St

FORT BOURKE HILL LOOKOUT Take a look at the New Cobar Mine in operation from above. The lookout is open to members of the public to observe the open cut mine and also offers panoramic views across the town. Fort Bourke Hill (off The Kidman Way)


’ There’s so much more to Cobar than mining , but there’s no denying it’s in our DNA.

has seen some of the best and worst days of Cobar’s mining industry over the past 40 years.

Today, four major operations employ hundreds of workers in the district. CSA Mine was first discovered and mined in Cobar’s pioneer days and has operated almost continuously since the 1960s. Peak (which consists of two separate sites to the south of town) opened in its current format in the early 90s, but mines an area littered with historic shafts and workings dating back to the first mineral discoveries in the area. Endeavor was a later discovery with zinc, lead and silver mined at the site 46km north of Cobar since 1983. The Hera Mine at Nymagee is part of a historically mined area but the new operation only commenced in 2015.

John started at the CSA Mine and worked his way from general serviceman through many underground positions before joining the Peak in its formative years as a superintendent. He was tasked with recruiting workers for the fledgling operation, a search which took him all over Australia, but he reckons the best people were the locals.

Many of Cobar’s “local” families came to town “for a year or two” and stayed a lifetime. There’s still plenty of men and women working in our local mines whose fathers and even grandfathers spent their lives working below the surface. One of those names synonymous with the local mining industry is John Goonrey, who


“We were in Charters Towers, and Greg Jackson and myself said the best miners are in Cobar,” he said. John has seen the transition from the wild old days to the new modern miner where safety is a priority and technology is helping improve efficiencies. “At CSA we had a mining school which taught different techniques like rise mining and handheld mining. There’s very little of that now because of safety reasons. “There’s no cut and fill, now it’s all open stopes and nobody works under unsupported ground.”

“At CSA back in about 1975 the first remote was operated by a cable. The operators used to run along next to the machinery with a cable from the machine to the remote,” John said. He also recalled operating the remote loader “sitting on a 44 gallon drum”. By comparison today’s remote loader operators enjoy almost armchair comfort in an air-conditioned cabin, with laser barriers between the operator and the machine which will cut out if the barrier is broken. “I’m glad I was still there to see improvements in safety, it got a bit hairy in the old days—you went to work not expecting to come home. Working in mining these days is safer than driving a truck out on the highway,” John said. He said miners these days are higher paid than ever before but do much less manual labour. “Mining is streaks ahead of what they were doing in the 60s and 70s,” John said. He has also seen the way mine rosters have changed the way the workforce lives in the community. Once the miners worked eight hour day, afternoon and night shifts Monday to Friday. “Our weekends were available to play sport. The mines supported things like football—if you wanted to come out here and play, the mines would organise a job, somewhere to live,” John said. He said the introduction of 12 hour shift and a four days on/four days off roster and more recently seven days on/seven days off rosters has changed the town, with many opting not to live or bring their families to Cobar. “They can live on the coast if they want. Lots of people live in rented accommodation, they don’t care about their lawns and their partners live elsewhere.” However John acknowledges that the mines have made Cobar what it is today. “They looked after Cobar and what it stood for. The mines were great for Cobar but as they go on they are losing touch with the town. They used to be owned by people who cared about the people living in Cobar, now they’re owned by international companies chasing the dollars—and good on them,” he said. John sees the mines continuing to play a big role in Cobar’s future. “I think there’s currently two years of mine life at Peak,” he said. “In saying that, when I went to the Peak in 1990 it had eight years left, and when I left in 2013 it still had eight years left!”.


One of the main attractions for visitors to Cobar is the history of the town. Great Cobar Heritage Centre houses not only a varied and well preserved collection of artefacts, but is also where you’ll find two locals with a passion for Cobar’s heritage. Museum curator Kay Stingemore and John Collins, who has been the friendly face greeting visitors at the centre for many years, are both keen historians who have dedicated their time to uncovering and sharing the stories of personalities of the past. Both say Cobar’s unique history stems from our mining beginnings, but it’s the way the town has survived and thrived, where other mining settlements have faded out, that is the real story. “Cobar has a fluctuating history, consistent with mining towns, however while many have disappeared, Cobar has shown its character and resilience by still mining today after almost 150 years,” John said. Looking back, both John and Kay agree nothing shaped Cobar’s future more than the Great Cobar Copper Mine, which operated from 1870 to 1919. “In its heyday, it was one of the biggest and most important industries not only in NSW but in Australia,” Kay said. “Its industrial history in the technology of extraction and smelting shows ingenuity and innovation with Cobar being one of the first, and sometimes the first, to use new processes and machinery.” John would love to see more locals learn about the mine that still has plenty of visible remnants in the museum building, the open cut and even where the big ‘Cobar’ sign now stands. “Today it’s difficult to imagine just how big it was. At times there were 2,000 men employed there and for 50 years it dominated the Cobar skyline,” he said. “Everything about the Great Cobar was massive— buildings, smoke stacks, the railway lines and general infrastructure was all on a huge scale. The Cobar railway line produced more revenue than any other rail line in NSW!” John said. For Kay it’s the human stories that are of most interest. Cobar’s most fascinating stories come from all walks of life—from managers to those at the bottom of the mines, graziers and their families, Chinese market gardeners, business men and women, immigrants and indigenous people. “It was a hard place to build a town, hot and dusty and suffering frequent drought. They had to work so hard, and then they played hard as well!” Kay said.


While Cobar has held strong through the ups and downs of the mining industry, there are plenty of nearby villages whose fortunes differed and are now ‘ghost towns’. “The past municipality of Wrightville, the almost disappeared Canbelego and the vanished villages of Dapville, Mt Drysdale and so on tell stories that have parallels in many parts of Australia. Who wouldn’t be interested to know where they stood, who lived there, and why they are gone?” Kay said. Kay’s current research focus is on people who were killed or injured working in local mines. “It sounds depressing, but the humanity of the people makes it very moving,” she said. With a history as rich as Cobar’s, Kay struggles to name just one or two stories and personalities that stand out for her. If you come across Kay at the heritage centre, ask her about the fascinating (but tragic) story of Ada Poole. “That’s what is so good about the history— tracing and connecting the people and their stories and realising why they did things, recreating something of who they were.” Kay said. She’s also fascinated by what Cobar contributed to the colony and state of NSW. “The stories of Cobar have meaning for everyone. The history of these miners covers the history and development of health and safety in the mines as well as work relationships and trade unions. Did you know that Cobar had a riot in the streets with over 1,000 people involved?”

“That was in 1917 and was sparked by the presence “If more people were aware of the hardships of the of ‘Wobblies’ - members of the International men and women who first came to Cobar and Workers of the World,” Kay recounted. what they achieved with limited resources, they would learn to appreciate our town and our John names Patrick ‘Paddy’ Condon as a standout heritage more,” John said. “Before the discovery of historical figure for Cobar. “He came to Cobar as a copper in 1870, Cobar was a waterless wilderness young man and only lived until he was 50, but he hundreds of miles from anything!” achieved more in his life than most people would in two lifetimes!” John describes Paddy as “a man “While Cobar’s isolation can be a disadvantage, it for all occasions who gave his heart and soul to also gives us a character where we often stand Cobar during its most difficult years”. “He is widely alone. It’s what makes the town and it’s a privilege known as the owner of the Great Western Hotel, to live here,” John said. but he was much, much more,” John said. Kay’s favourite stories are about the “ratbags” such as former bushranger Patsy Daley (who went on to become an alderman!); just as much as those who helped build the town: Frank and Boney, the Aboriginal guides who brought the party of tank sinkers to Cobar; former mayor Michael Duffy and the doctors (she lists Dr Paul, Dr Letcher and Dr Brady as stand-outs). John and Kay love to spread the word to visitors and locals alike about where Cobar came from. “I love exploring how Cobar’s past has made its present and how the remnants of the layers of story can be seen everywhere,” Kay said. “I walk down any street and I can see in my mind scenes of what was there.”




THE BEGINNING The Ngiyampaa people called the area home, reportedly referring to a water hole near the present town as ‘Kubbur’ describing the surrounding ochre-red rock.



The discovery of the mineral riches which lay below the surface quickly brought miners and their families to the area in search of wealth. It only took two years for the first publican’s license to be granted for the growing town, and by 1878 a school had opened.

After drought brought mine production to a halt in the early part of the decade, rain eventually fell and it was full steam ahead for Cobar. The current Post Office building was completed in 1885, and the mining operations started to take on a new focus—gold.

A NEW GOLD RUSH After some tough times due to a recession which saw large scale retrenchments at Elura, there was again positivity in Cobar with the opening of the Peak Gold Mine.

MOUNT GRENFELL GIVEN BACK Ownership of the Mount Grenfell historic site was officially handed back to the traditional owners, the Ngiyampaa people.



2012 MINING AGAIN AT NYMAGEE YTC Resources, now known as Aurelia Metals, was granted approval to commence mining for gold and copper at the Hera Mine near Nymagee. Aurelia now also owns and operates the Peak Mines.






There were dark days for the town as CSA Mine’s operator, Ashanti, was placed in receivership and closed the mine, leaving the whole workforce unemployed and with unpaid entitlements. However in true Cobar fashion it also highlighted the resilience and community spirit of the town, who banded together and took their fight all the way to Parliament House in Canberra, and supported the families who remained until the mine reopened with a new operator in 1999.

After mineral exploration in the area boomed, a brand new mine was opened north west of Cobar employing hundreds and bringing on another development boom in the town. (The Elura Mine is now known as Endeavor.)

WRIGHTVILLE & SHUTTLETON As Cobar grew, smaller surrounding villages such as Wrightville and Shuttleton asserted their independence.


THE BUST On the back of the demise of Great Cobar Mine came another blow—the town’s other major employer, CSA Mine, was closed after an underground fire, which burned for 16 years. The remnants of the Great Cobar Mine were removed or demolished, and people started to desert the town.




BOOM TIME Cobar’s population reached 10,000, with 1,800 employed at the Great Cobar Mine alone. But it would crash quickly as World War I saw the copper price plummet, with the mine shutting down in 1919.

BUSHFIRE More than 1.5 million hectares of land near Cobar was burnt out by severe bushfires.




After tough years of drought, war and unemployment Cobar’s mines started a comeback with the New Occidental Mines Company operating the Chesney and New Cobar Mines. Sadly it was short lived with the New Cobar Mine closing by 1948 after 12 years of operation.

REV DRUMMOND’S ROYAL FAR WEST After Cobar’s population dwindled to less than 1,000 people, times were tough in Cobar. Reverend Stanley Drummond created the Royal Far West Children’s Health Scheme after converting a train carriage to a clinic to give Cobar children access to medical treatment.




A MODERN COBAR The reopening of CSA Mine ushered in a new era of hope and prosperity for Cobar which saw the construction of significant local infrastructure including the town pool, a state of the art weather station, and a new high school and hospital to support a housing boom.

Many workers left unemployed by the closure of the mines were able to find work in the local pastoral industry as wool prices soared.

THE BIRTH OF CMPL Cobar Mines Pty Ltd was created to redevelop Cobar’s mines, and went on to reopen the CSA Mine and is still the name of the company which operates that mine today.



You never know what birds you might spot at the Newey!



COBAR RACES One of the biggest events on Cobar’s social calendar, it’s a chance to get dressed up for the very competitive Fashions in the Field, have a drink and a flutter and catch up with mates. Spring (Picnics): August 25, 2018 Autumn: May 11, 2019

COBAR SHOW An action packed annual two day event, the Cobar Show has a proud tradition with pavilions of sheep, poultry, arts & crafts, cooking, gardening, and more. There’s plenty of competition and entertainment with horse events and a pet show as well as a bit of fun with sideshow alley, all culminating with an ever-impressive fireworks display. May 17-18, 2019

FESTIVAL OF THE MINER’S GHOST Each year Cobar pays homage to our history and celebrates with a range of events, with new and exciting activities planned each year. A staple on the program is the massive markets in the park followed by

a brilliant fireworks display over the old open cut mine. Held annually on the last weekend in October October 23-28, 2018

RUNNING ON EMPTY FESTIVAL Did you know that much of the Australian cult car film Running on Empty was filmed in and around Cobar? In 2018 a special festival will be held to celebrate the film with the original cars on display, a cruise around some of the filming locations and a dinner event featuring many of the movie stars. Run in 2018 in conjunction with Festival of the Miners Ghost

CHRISTMAS STREET PARADE The ultimate community celebration happens annually in Cobar’s main street where shops stay open late, food and market stalls set up and the town ushers in the Christmas spirit with a huge parade. End of November



The remains of the Great Cobar Copper Mine are still very clearly visible in Cobar, such as the Open Cut on the edge of town. These days it’s filled with water and vegetation is starting to take over, so it can be hard to imagine that it was once part of a massive industrial complex that dominated the local skyline and employed hundreds of people. For photographer Klae McGuinness, it’s a great spot to capture the Cobar landscape from an angle that most people never see.


If there’s one thing Cobar residents are especially proud of, it’s our sporting identity. For a small town we can punch well above our weight in many sporting arenas and we’ve produced our fair share of sporting success stories. Most recently it’s our rugby league club, the Cobar Roosters (and Roosterettes), who have been putting our name on the map. The Ladies’ League Tag and Under 18s sides were both 2017 Barwon Darling competition champions and the club is already looking strong in 2018 after moving to the Castlereagh competition. Roosterette Lisa Travis played in the Group 11 and Castlereagh representative league tag teams and was selected for the Western Division side. As someone who has played just about every sport Cobar has to offer, she says sport is a part of Cobar’s identity that brings the


community together. “Cobar’s sportspeople are competitive, dedicated, skilled and display great sportsmanship. Sport is ingrained in Cobar’s history and culture and past achievements are celebrated and recognised often,” Lisa said. Local sportsman Jade Buckman says Cobar’s sporting strength lies in the variety of facilities available. While he enjoys cricket, soccer and basketball himself, he’s had plenty to do with other local sports as a father of four. “Cobar has a proud sporting history and continues to offer many different sports from rugby league, rugby union, netball, cricket, soccer, basketball, tennis, squash, golf, swimming etc. Participation and competition levels have ebbed and flowed, but Cobar has always provided facilities and support for sport,” Jade said.

Both Jade and Lisa reckon it’s the social side of sport which has them hooked. Lisa says while she loves the competition, it’s her team mates that make it all worthwhile. “We spend so much time together your teammates become your close friends.” Not surprisingly, Lisa’s ultimate Cobar sporting highlight is not only winning the league tag grand finals, but the celebrations that followed.

For Jade sport is ultimately about the friendships formed. It’s the people involved that make the achievements of the Cobar Cowboys in December 2006 one of Jade’s local sporting highlights.

Playing sport in Cobar is not without its challenges, and for many our isolation and the distances travelled for competition is daunting. But for locals, it’s part and parcel of the game. Last year Lisa did over 7,000km in one season to represent Cobar in league The Cowboys, Cobar’s representative tag. “The distance we travel to play is cricket team, took out the NSW Country challenging, but we know what we’re Plate, a state wide competition for getting into at the start of the year and towns with a population of less than we make a commitment,” she said. 10,000. “The team featured legends like Craig Dillon, Stewart Fraser, Glenn Peter Payne, a Cobar Rugby Union Club Spinks, Tom Good, Doug North, Phil ‘Old Boy’ and complete rugby union Harley, Greg Mitchell, Dean Botten and “tragic”, says most teams have our bus driver Pat Prendergast and managed to turn the travel into a social team manager John Collins,” Jade event. Among his fondest memories said. “We had a great team, it was a with the club were when the Camels great environment to be in, and took a clean sweep on Grand Final everyone played well during the day, winning three from three in tournament. The stories that were Coonabarabran on a freezing cold day. told and the memories made will “We discovered the warming qualities always stay with me.” of Brown Muscat and, in particular,

Stones Green Ginger Wine.” Rumour has it the Camels still call on those extraordinary elixirs to get through the season. Payney, as he is known locally, says travel (which can take the Camels on nearly an 800km round trip for one game) is “never an issue” as long as there’s a designated driver. “The longer the bus trip home the better!” he said. For Payney it’s not necessarily a winning side that rates among his best for Cobar. In the 1970s he was part of the Camels side which lost the grand final to Walgett. “Playing in that side with champions such as Greg Prince, Wal Black, Rusty Mitchell, Chris Forbes, Dick Houghton and Roger Shanahan rates right up there with the best memories,” he said. Continued on next page


With mining being the main source of employment in Cobar, rosters and shift work are bound to have an impact of the way sports are played in Cobar. Jade remembers growing up in a rugby league-mad town watching the Cobar Roosters take it to the bigger towns like Dubbo and Parkes in the Group 11 competition. “Tom Knight Oval was packed out when we had home games,” he said. However these days many sports have to work harder to field enough players and maintain a strong level of competition. Jade says he knows the seven days on, seven days off rosters have provided recruitment benefits for the mines, but it has made it harder for sports teams. “To combat this, many sporting times generally have up to three times the players required.” Jade said for his cricket team there are up to 30 players in the squad. “You need it to be able to field 11 players on a Saturday because half are working, half are away and you’re left to scrape around to get the 11 players!” he said. But Jade believes the mining industry in Cobar has done a lot to help build our sporting identity. “They have supported sport immensely in Cobar through sponsorship, donations and work placement over the years,” he said. Jade said he believes Cobar is well placed to continue its sporting reputation into the future, although perhaps on a different path. He says building on the way Cobar Shire Council and local mines already support sports, there is great potential to become a sporting powerhouse in an “alternative” to the usually popular team sports such as rugby league or AFL. With so many sports on offer in Cobar including golf, bowls, archery, pistol, rifle and clay target shooting, motorbike sports, tennis or judo (to name a few) Jade has a vision to develop excellence in local sports people. “It would be a long-term program, but I believe people would support it and push their kids into it knowing they'll receive proper coaching and there’s a pathway for their child.”



Cobarians are known for being an enterprising bunch. The isolation of the town means we sometimes do things a little differently. So it’s really no surprise a quirky mash-up of two different sports is an unlikely hit with locals. While Cobar makes no claim to having invented the sport of Squalleyball, we reckon we’ve made it our own. You’ve probably never heard of it outside Cobar but it’s actually been a fixture on the local sporting scene for over 20 years.

The ball is served from the back corner and must go over the net without touching the net, walls or another player.

Its origins are unclear but for Cobar, the concept of combining Volleyball and Squash has developed a bit of a cult following. Affectionately known as “Squalley”, the Thursday night competition has eight teams battling it out on the squash courts at the Youthie each week.

In rallies teams can hit the ball 3 times to get it over the net, but one player can’t touch it consecutively.

Local Squalley veteran Colby Lawrence says the game is loud, crazy and all in good fun. “We never want to lose but we don’t play for sheep stations,” he said. It’s hard to stay serious when the ball is adorned with Barbie or Disney Princesses. “You get a really good bounce from a kids’ ball which makes the game a lot faster and easier to play,” Colby said.

Players can use the walls to their advantage but the ball can’t hit the lights or roof

Colby started playing back in the 90s when he was in high school and is a member of the current champion team, the Kamikaze Pilots. “We started off as small fish, only winning a few games here and there but were always known as the crazy, loud team and the most fun team to play. After a while we started to find our feet and got better as we went. One season we took out the grand final without losing a match all season!” he said. He said the beauty of the game is that nearly anyone can (and does) play, from high school students to spritely seniors, who become addicted to the fun.



Yes, you’re seeing that right—three goats perched precariously on the edge of the open cut mine! Next time you’re at the lookout, keep an eye out around the ledges of the pit for a similar sight.


As an isolated, rural town, there’s sometimes a belief that Cobar is lacking in creative and cultural opportunities. However we’ve got plenty of talented musicians, artists, dancers, performers, poets and writers who have found a way to nurture and share their creative pursuits and encourage others along the way.

education. After achieving her dance teaching certification, Eden had a vision to give other talented locals an easier path. She turned an empty old paint shop into a purpose-built dance studio complete with sprung floors, bars and mirrors, and is now able to offer recognised vocational training without students needing to travel outside Cobar.

One example is Eden Coughlan, the founder and principal of Copper City Dance Centre. A talented dancer in her own right, Eden has also been teaching dance for eight years. In 2016 she created the Copper City Dance community to help offer more opportunities for locals interested in the performing arts.

“Living in Cobar, seeing skill sets come and go and intermittently being available to the community gave me the drive to gain as much experience as I can to be able to give Cobar the best experience with dance in a consistent way,” Eden said. “I love hearing parents tell me how much confidence their child has built or the friendships they have found since beginning lessons, or when a student finally achieves a new move or skill they have been working so hard on.”

“I love dance as a creative and expressive interpretation of story through movement,” Eden said. “Seeing our students enjoy dance and their pride in being part of something as they grow up and find their passion and creativity inspires me.” Building the dream was not without hurdles. Eden initially struggled to find a nationally recognised course to gain the required qualifications for dance teaching that was delivered through distance


On the other end of the creative scale, local musician Kahlia Martin got her start at Cobar’s pubs and clubs but has gone on to share the stage with the likes of country music star Beccy Cole. After discovering a natural talent for drums and guitar throughout high school Kahlia looked to the local music community to follow her passion.

“Once I finished school I was lucky enough to start meeting other local musicians, jamming with them and eventually started gigging with Cobar bands including Burnt Earth and the Jade Martin Band. “Meeting other local musicians and getting the chance to play gigs here gave me a good grounding when I was brand new to the whole thing. The experience has really helped me extend my skills,” Kahlia said. Kahlia is a graduate of the Country Music Association of Australia Academy where she learned and played alongside top artists including Kasey Chambers. She’s worked with a range of artists at the Tamworth Country Music Festival and regularly plays gigs across central west NSW. Kahlia admits there has been a lot of travel involved in pursuing her passion, but that hasn’t stopped her. “The pubs and clubs in Cobar have provided a good hub for live music over the years. There’s plenty of opportunity for the gigging musician to get work here,” Kahlia said. Likewise, Eden says Cobar’s isolation has presented challenges for both herself and her dance troupe for training, competitions, excursions and also to bring out guest teachers and examiners. “But this has not stopped us from anything as there is always a way!” Eden said. She said there has been plenty of industry and community support helping to bring as many opportunities to Cobar as possible “to limit the gap between performance arts in rural NSW and Sydney/Central Coast NSW”. Kahlia and Eden both have no doubt the Cobar community has helped drive their success. “Other musicians in the Cobar community have helped to shape my passion,” Kahlia said. “We are all very supportive of each other. I love the sense of community we have here. It’s very tight knit and this is very evident when events such as fundraisers are held,” she said. Eden also described Cobar as a supportive community.

“Cobar is a town that loves creative and performance arts and always welcomes all fundraisers, concerts and recitals with the best attitude. I love being able to work with the football clubs, markets, Dancing Under the Stars as well as other organisations that provide entertainment and support as well as giving our students as much performance experience as we can. “The support from both my family and the Cobar community has been essential to the success of the studio. I couldn't imagine living out my dream anywhere else!”

Above: Kahlia Martin on stage at the 2018 Tamworth Country Music Festival. Left: Holly Marsden and Bella Coughlan at the 2017 Copper City Dance Studio end of year recital. Opposite page: Eden Coughlan.



Cobar’s colourful sunsets can turn even the simplest scene into something magnificent, like a header at work on one of the massive rural holdings west of Cobar.



When you take a closer look at Cobar it’s easy to find fascinating people, and interesting colours, shapes and landscapes. That’s the motivation behind local photographer Klae McGuinness, who has provided the brilliant images throughout this magazine. Klae’s says he finds plenty of inspiration for photos around Cobar and starts by looking at things from a different angle. “Landscapes I’ve been looking at forever suddenly have more detail, more colour. There are great photos everywhere if you take the time to look for them,” he said.

work for tourism promotion. Recently Klae has been honing his night photography skills. He says Cobar’s wide open skies, combined with minimal light pollution, are ideal for impressive night sky photography. The main image on this page was taken on a property just outside Cobar and is the result of hours of work taking hundreds of frames before stitching them together in post production to create the amazing final product.

Another of Klae’s favourite subjects is sports photography—particularly fast paced sports such as motocross. He’s Klae’s unique perspective is helping to put also made a name for himself among Cobar on the map. His work has caught Australia’s country music community, the eye of Canon Australia, who have recently documenting Lee Kernaghan’s taken Klae’s image of the New Cobar Mine tour throughout Victoria and working on worldwide as promotional material across the Golden Guitar Awards red carpet at social media, online and even in print in the Tamworth Country Music Festival. their flagship store in Sydney. But Klae says his favourite subject of Along the way organisations such as all time is his daughter Maddie (pictured Regional Development Australia (in both right). “She’s getting more into NSW and Victoria), Broken Hill City photography too,” he said. Maddie is Council and Destination NSW have a willing and patient model for Klae to recognised the way Klae can capture expand and refine his photography skills, the beauty and interest in communities such as Harry Potter themed fantasy and landscapes, and commissioned his shoots (a favourite of Maddie’s!).


Tucked away in a quiet residential area of Cobar is a grand old reminder of a prosperous time in Cobar’s history. Set among shady, green gardens is the 112-year old Victorian style home of Vivienne and Geoff Davis, an icon among many locals for its grand façade. Viv and Geoff have worked hard over the past 25 years to preserve the authenticity of the home while making improvements to bring it up to a 21st century style of living. Like many locals, Viv says she first fell in love with the house as a little girl. “I used to walk past and think, ‘wouldn’t it be great to live in that house’?”. As a lover of “old things” Viv said she was thrilled with the opportunity to put in a bid to purchase the house. “If we were not successful we probably would have built a new home that was a replica!” she said. The 1906-built house was originally home to Frank and Lilian Ward. The wealthy local shopkeeper purchased the land in the area of Cobar known as Dalton Park in 1903 and the home is widely credited as being his wife’s work. The home was sold to a local grazier in 1918 as the Wards sought to move to Sydney. Over the years it was owned by a handful of local families and was purchased by Cobar Mines Pty Ltd in 1960 and leased to mine managers.


REMINDERS OF THE PAST Take a walk along some of Cobar’s first settled streets where grand homes of days gone by still stand. As with other rural towns, in Cobar many of these houses were reserved for persons of official standing in the community— doctors, aldermen, church leaders, headmasters and mine managers. Longworth, on the corner of Linsley and Blakey streets, was a residence and surgery for the Great Cobar Mine doctor. The Davis’ say while the mine maintained the house well, they did not necessarily preserve the authenticity. An extension was added to the back of the home in the 1960s along with additions in the style of the time such as shag pile carpets and oil heaters. Despite this, most of the original floor plan and structure was retained. Over the past two decades, it has been a labour of love for Geoff and Viv to restore many of the original features and make any improvements sympathetic to the original style.

In Blakey Street the headmaster’s residence is believed to pre-date the school buildings, while across the road sits one of Cobar’s early mayor’s homes. Murray Street features a series of Cobar’s early homes all set on huge blocks of land with many original architectural features still intact.

Heritage preservation rules on the house mean any additions or renovations should be made within the existing roofline, so the Davis’ added an ensuite bathroom and walk-in robe to an old verandah area. Viv’s favourite feature, the 14ft ceilings, remain intact as well as original architectural details on the front façade, internal fireplaces and a wrap-around verandah. Understanding the importance of having well preserved history, Viv and Geoff have opened the doors and gardens to members of the public on selected occasions over the years, Viv says it’s the authenticity of the home that draws people in. “For a lot of people it takes them back. They say things like ‘my nana had a house like this’ or ‘I used to visit a house like this when I was young’,” she said.



Cobar’s arid conditions are ideal for the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, with their delicate pink colouring and impressive scarlet and yellow banded plumage












Cobar Central Motor Inn Copper City Motel Oasis Motel

6830 2000 6836 2404 6836 2844

D6 F5 C5

44 45 44

Red Earth Real Estate

6836 3939



6836 3664 0428 168 463

E5 E5 D5 E5 E5 E5 E5 E5 E5

20 20 21 20 22 22 36 20 47

6836 3555 6836 2613 0427 362 574 0429 361 190 6836 2900 6836 2002 6836 3616

E5 B6 B9 F5 E5 E5 E5

22 31 13 22 21 21 35

0477 270 735 0428 156 345 0439 298 812

F7 E5 E5

29 35 29

0417 291 067



131 008 6836 3322

E5 E5

46 46

AUTOMOTIVE/FUEL Cobar Auto Port (Shell) Fairbank Auto Pro Inland Petroleum

6836 2650 6836 1111 6836 2444

D5 E5 D5

31 31 31

0417 228 581 6836 2039 6836 5888

E6 E5

35 34 2

6836 2195



6836 4492 6836 2264

D5 E5

39 38

6836 1313



6836 5500 6836 2040

E6 E5

36 22

6836 2214



6836 2102 6836 2725 6836 2503

E5 E5 E5

39 37 38

6836 5100 6830 2555 6836 4011

B1 B1 E5

12 11 13

COMMUNITY Cobar Business Association Cobar Public School Cobar Shire Council St John’s Parish Primary School

FOOD Cobar Thai Maddie’s Café

HEALTH & WELLBEING Cobar Pharmacy Cobar Primary Health Care Centre John Mitchell Pharmacy

PUBS & CLUBS Cobar Bowling & Golf Club Cobar Memorial Services Club Empire Hotel Great Western Hotel

MINING & INDUSTRIAL CSA Mine Endeavor Mine Jemrok


RETAIL & SERVICES Anni’s Arts & Crafts Brush Stop Cobar Newsagency Cobar Quilt Shop Country Simplicity Harvey Norman Great Western Gallery Gumnut Gifts & Homewares Klae McGuinness Photography Needles Pins & Material Things Osborne Firearms Outback Floats & Trailers Outback Styles Stationery Essentials The Kidz Boutique The Cobar Weekly

6836 3077 6836 2202 6836 3606 0427 719 899 6836 6400

SPORTS, FITNESS & LEISURE Cobar Rugby Union Club Copper City Dance Centre JKM Dynamic Fitness Western Studio Of Performing Arts

TRANSPORT Hunter’s Taxi Ray’s Red Taxi

ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION The team behind The Dirt on Cobar are extremely grateful to everyone who has made this publication possible. Special thanks to Cobar Shire Council for their assistance and support of the magazine.

Production of the magazine is made possible by the support of the advertisers. Your help in supporting these businesses is greatly appreciated. And when dealing with any of these businesses, tell them where you saw their advertisement. Note: All information provided is correct at the time of printing and may alter without prior notice. While every effort has been made to present all information correctly, the publisher accepts no liability for the accuracy of inclusions, any advice given or any omissions from the publication. All images and text Š


Editor/Advertising Tahnee Tomek Photography Klae McGuinness Photography Publisher The Cobar Weekly Association Inc

COMMUNITY, SHOPPING & SERVICES 1. CBD area 2. Cobar Cemetery 3. Cobar Library 4. Cobar Shire Council offices 5. Copper City Men’s Shed 6. The Cobar Weekly newspaper ATTRACTIONS 7. Big COBAR sign 8. Cobar Miners Heritage Park 9. Cobar Museum 10. Drummond Park 11. Fort Bourke Hill lookout 12. Great Western Gallery

Acacia Dr........................... C2 Baldry Pl............................. B2 Bannister Ct ...................... B8 Barton St ............................ E6 Bathurst St ........................ C4 Becker St ............................ D5 Belagoy St .......................... C8 Bilby Pl................................ B2 Blakey St ............................ E6 Bloxham St ........................ D6 Booroomugga St .............. D6 Bourke St ........................... D5 Box Pl ................................. B4 Bradley St .......................... D4 Brickworks Rd ................... I5

13. Heritage Walking Track 14. Newey Reservoir 15. Old Reservoir SPORTING FACILITIES 16. Ailsa Fitzsimmons Memorial Oval 17. Cobar Golf Course 18. Cobar Memorial Swimming Pool 19. Cobar Youth & Fitness Centre 20. Dalton Park Horse Sports Complex 21. Cobar Clay Target Club 22. Tennis Courts 23. Tom Knight Memorial Oval 24. Ward Oval

Brennan St..........................D6 Brigalow Pl .........................C8 Broomfield St .....................E5 Brough St ............................D4 Campbell St .......................G5 Carr St ................................D3 Clifton Pl .............................B7 Condon Pl ...........................B6 Conduit St ..........................F5 Cornish St ...........................G4 Cowper St...........................E3 Cypress Pl ..........................C8 Dapville St ..........................I5 Denman St .........................D4 Duffy Dr ...............................B7 Dunstan St ..........................H5 Echidna Dr ..........................B6 Eleventh St..........................F4 Elizabeth Cres ...................B6 Fletcher St ..........................B6 Fourteenth St .....................G4 Frederick St ........................E4

MEDICAL FACILITIES 30. Cobar Hospital 31. Cobar Primary Health Care Centre CHURCHES 32. Anglican Church 33. Baptist Church 34. Catholic Church 35. Uniting Church

Leah St ................................D3 Lewis St ...............................F6 Linsley St .............................E5 Longworth St......................B6 Louth Road .........................E4 Madden St..........................C7 Mahmong Pl ......................E3 Maidens Ave ......................D7 Margaret St........................D6 Marshall St .........................E5 Mathews St ........................C3 Mitchell St ...........................C7 Molineaux St ......................E4 Monaghan St .....................C3 Mopone St ..........................C6 Morrison St.........................D3 Mulga Pl ..............................C2 Murray St ...........................D5 Nullamutt St .......................B8 Nyngan Rd .........................G5 Old Bourke Rd ...................G5 Prince St .............................C5

Goold St ..............................C3 Government Rd.................G4 Green St..............................D4

Railway Pde Nth ................F3 Railway Pde Sth ................F4 Rankin St ............................B6

Harcourt St .........................E6 Hogan Pl .............................B8 Howies Dr ...........................F7

Second St............................D3 Snelson St ...........................C7 Sunset Dr ............................B6

Irwin St ................................B6

Tenth St ...............................F4 Thirteenth St ......................F4 Tindera St ...........................C8

James Pl .............................B8 Jandra Cres .......................C9 Jeffrey St.............................C7 Jones Dr .............................C9 Kelly St ................................F4 Kidman Way ......................G6 Knight Dr ............................D9 Kurrajong Circle ................B3 Lamrock St .........................C2 Lavina St .............................I4


SCHOOLS 25. Cobar High School 26. Cobar Preschool 27. Cobar Public School 28. Ngalii Preschool 29. St John’s Primary School

Wattle Dr ............................B4 Wetherell Cres...................C7 Wilga Cres..........................B3 Wittagoona St ...................C8 Wood St ..............................B8 Woodiwiss Ave ..................C7 Wrightville St......................I5 Yarran Circle .....................B3


The Dirt on Cobar  

A free publication showcasing the community of Cobar

The Dirt on Cobar  

A free publication showcasing the community of Cobar