Historical Towns Directory

By clicking on a state or territory on the map, you can access a regional guide to Australia's historic towns, including a wealth of information about organizations, museums and locations.

We invite organisations to submit information for inclusion on this site. Please click here to email your information to the Directory Editor, Ros Stirling.



Find Dubbo

Dubbo, 420 kilometres north-west of Sydney, is currently regarded as the capital of Western New South Wales.

In 1818 the exploratory party of John Oxley were the first Europeans in the Dubbo area. They reported favourably on the land.

The 'Dubbo' run was established by Robert Venour Dulhunty in 1828, taking its name from an indigenous Wiradjuri term which possibly translates to 'red earth'.

In 1846 the government chose the future townsite, five kilometres downstream from Dulhunty's property, to set up a lock-up and police residence. A slab courthouse (1848) on site also housed the first post office.

After unsuccessful negotiations with Dulhunty to open an inn and store on his property, Jean Emile Serisier established his general store (1847) near the lock-up and Nicholas Hyeronimus opened his business at the townsite the next year.

The settlement of Dubbo was declared a village in November 1849. Town land first went on sale in 1850.

Development of the town was initially slow but was boosted in the 1850s by its proximity to the major north-south route used by farmers to transport stock to the growing Melbourne markets.

By 1856 Dubbo's first Catholic Church was in existence and three years later an Anglican church had been established.

The current St Brigid's Catholic Church was built in Gothic Revival style in 1874 with later additions. The Holy Trinity Anglican Church was built in 1875-76 to an Early English design by Edmund Blacket. Its bellcote dates to the 1920s. Dubbo's first Methodist Church (1875) is now the Sunday school hall to the Uniting Church, which was built as a Methodist church in 1888.

The Commercial Hotel was built in 1859 and is now the oldest remaining building in Dubbo's town centre.

Old Dubbo Gaol, Dubbo, Central NSW. Courtesy Tourism New South Wales

The District Court first sat in Dubbo in 1859. A new courthouse and lock-up were constructed during 1862 and 1863.

The sandstone Commercial Bank building (1865) was used as the shire offices between 1909 and 1980.

Closer settlement on smaller landholdings resulted in the development of mixed farming enterprises. Various commercial mining activities also commenced in the region.

The wealth of original store owner, Jean Serisier, mirrored Dubbo's growth. He upgraded his stores and in 1868 planted 50,000 vines on his 'Emulga' property. During the next decade this became on of the colony's biggest vineyards.

Construction of the Dubbo Gaol began in 1871. The original stone building contained four cells, a day room and the gaoler's bedroom. It was subsequently enlarged in various stages and operated as a penitentiary until 1966. From 1877 to 1904 eight men were hanged for murder at the Dubbo Gaol.

Dubbo was made a municipality in 1872 by which time it was already an important commercial centre with a population of approximately 850 people.

Railway arrived in 1881 and Dubbo continued to grow. Many of its substantial buildings were built during this period of prosperity.

Between 1881 and 1884 Thomas Alexander Browne (aka novelist Rolf Boldrewood, author of 'Robbery Under Arms') was Dubbo's police magistrate.

James Barnet designed the impressive Classical Revival courthouse (1885-90). He also designed an Italianate post office (1887)

The double-storey, iron and timber Lands Office building was built in Queen Anne-style in 1895-96.

Dubbo became a city in 1966.

Dubbo Courthouse (courtesy Dubbo Visitors Centre)

The open-range Western Plains Zoo opened nearby in 1977 and is now a major tourist drawcard to the area.

In 2004 Dubbo had a population approaching 40,000 residents.

Macquarie Regional Library - Dubbo Branch
Information: The aim is to be a centre of excellence for local history while at the same time providing family history facilities for the general public.
Events: The Library follows the yearly calendar for events such as Heritage Week and History Week. Internet and family history classes are also available.
Contact: Sandra Smith, Local Studies Officer
Phone: 02 6801 4519

PO Box 1042
Dubbo NSW 2830

Email: sandra.smith@dubbo.nsw.gov.au
Website: http://www.mrl.nsw.gov.au
Dubbo Cultural Centre - Regional Gallery & Museum
Information: The Dubbo Cultural Centre - Regional Gallery & Museum is currently under construction and is due to re-open 1st September 2006.
Phone: 02 6801 4434

76 Wingewarra St
Dubbo NSW 2830

Dubbo Visitors Centre and Events Bureau
Phone: 02 6884 1422; 1800 674 443
Fax: 02 6801 4459

Corner Macquarie and Erskine streets
Dubbo NSW

Postal Address:

PO Box 469
Dubbo NSW 2830

Website: http://www.dubbotourism.com.au/
Old Dubbo Gaol
Information: The Old Dubbo Gaol was a courthouse lockup in 1847, was proclaimed an official Gaol in 1859 and closed operations as a penal institution in 1966. Officially re-opened as a tourist attraction in 1974, the Old Dubbo Gaol is now fully restored and is home to a large display of animatronic models and holographic displays which provide a realistic and fascinating insight into a bygone era of barbaric prison life. Open daily 9:00am to 4:00pm
Phone: (02) 6801 4460

90 Macquarie Street
Dubbo NSW 2830

Email: odg@dubbo.nsw.gov.au
Website: http://www.olddubbogaol.com.au



Index of all
Australian Heritage articles