BATHURST CITY CENTRE
1.Bathurst Visitor Information Centre
3.The Black Bull Inn
5.Cobb & Co Booking Office
6.The Royal Hotel
7.The Anglican Cathedral
10.Cobb & Co’s William Street Factory
1.Before you start your journey along the Cobb & Co Heritage Trail, drop into the Bathurst Visitor Information Centre and pick up some brochures, books and mudmaps to guide you along the way. Situated in Kendall Avenue, just off the Great Western Highway on the Bathurst side of Evans Bridge, the Visitor Information Centre also houses a superb Cobb & Co coach, one of only a handful of restored original coaches in the country and certainly worth an inspection. Bathurst was the home town of James Rutherford, a great local benefactor and head of the partnership that spread the name of Cobb & Co across almost every state in Australia.
2.Right near the Visitor Information Centre in Morse Park is where the company set up First Camp on its entry into Bathurst in 1862. Cobb & Co’s arrival was so grand that there was not enough stabling in the town for the entourage, so they camped the night on the Flat between the Vale Creek and the Denison Bridge (which is now the cricket ground area on the left as you come off Evans Bridge).
3.The Black Bull Inn was situated on the corner of Howick and Bentinck Streets, where the Bathurst Shopping Centre complex is today. Built in 1845 and demolished in May 1916, the inn was the site of Bathurst’s first Cobb & Co coach factory, which was at the back of the hotel and stable complex. The stables accommodated 58 horses while the works employed 40 to 50 men and housed four forges, a carriage maker’s shop, a painter’s room and trimmer’s work area. The factory also produced chaff for Cobb & Co stables between Hartley and Forbes. Cobb & Co moved to a new factory site in William Street in 1876.
4.Site of the School of Arts building. Between 1865 and 1910, James Rutherford was heavily involved with the Bathurst School of Arts and served as its President for over 30 years. Cobb & Co leased part of the School of Arts building (on the corner of Howick and William Streets) from 1876 until 1911 and used it as the company’s national headquarters and general office. In the hall next door (which also belonged to the School of Arts; Rutherford laid its foundation stone in 1874), a Peoples’ Federal Convention was held in 1896 to promote the cause of Federation. The hall site is now vacant and used as a car park.
5.Across the road and up a little from the old School of Arts site was the Cobb & Co Booking Office. After harnessing up at the new factory, the Cobb & Co horses trotted up William Street to this site to collect their coach passengers and begin their journey.
6.The impressive Royal Hotel was built around 1840 and played host to many a Cobb & Co passenger over the years. The building has since been converted into serviced apartments that offer accommodation for modern-day travellers.
7.James Rutherford regularly attended services at All Saints Anglican Cathedral and was trustee of the cathedral for over 40 years. The building that he knew was erected in 1845 but was demolished in 1969-70 due to structural problems. Its replacement, built in 1971, features a plaque in his memory.
8.Bathurst Court House built in 1880 to a design by James Barnet, this is one of the most notable buildings in Bathurst. The western wing contained the Telegraph Office for many years whilst the eastern wing housed the Bathurst Post Office from the 1880s until 1976; the latter is now home to the Bathurst District Historical Society and Museum. The lawn in front of the building was the site of the original court house and Cobb & Co often carried bushrangers to their fate here.
9.Hereford (private property) is a two-storey brick mansion, built by James Rutherford in 1879 and home to the Rutherford family from 1880 until 1913. An imposing structure, it features verandahs decorated with iron lace and boasted marble and cedar finishes, extensive gardens and marvellous views across Bathurst. It later became the Marsden School for Girls, was used during the Second World War by the Australian Women’s Army Services and Land Army and is now the Resource Centre and Educational Office for the Bathurst Diocese Catholic Church. The Holy Family School is also in the grounds. It was on this property, bred down from Cobb & Co mares, that the renowned trotting sire Globe Derby was foaled in 1910.
10.Cobb & Co’s new factory (site only). A new factory was built in William Street in 1876 and the coachworks were transferred here from the old site at the Black Bull Inn. Occupying one-and-a-half acres beside the Ordnance Ground (now cottages numbered from 5 to 21 William Street), it was the largest of Cobb & Co’s factories and a major employer in the Bathurst area, producing not only coaches but also various other horse-drawn vehicles. Cobb & Co ran quite a progressive workplace, hosting staff picnics and introducing the eight hour day in 1882 (much to the consternation of many Bathurst citizens who insisted that such generosity would send the company broke). The new factory closed in 1893 when all of Cobb & Co’s New South Wales coachworks were relocated to Charleville in Queensland.
11.Rutherford’s first home in Bathurst was ‘The Lindens’, a Victorian Italianate house at 227 William Street. Built in 1863, it was sold to Rutherford soon afterwards and he and his wife, Ada, lived here after their marriage in December 1863. A wing was added to the house in 1874 to accommodate the growing family, but by 1880 the Rutherfords had moved to the roomier surroundings of Hereford.
12.Bathurst Cemetery. James Rutherford, his wife and members of his family are buried within an elaborate vault surmounted by an enormous angel in the Anglican section of the cemetery.
AROUND THE BATHURST AREA
•Evans Plains Creek at Dunkeld. The road from Bathurst to Orange once passed through the village of Evans Plains, about 4 miles (6.4km) west of Bathurst. Evans Plains had a post office, two hotels and a large three-storey brick steam flour mill.
•Frying Pan Hill. Now called Yetholme, this is the place where Hal Hamilton was killed driving his coach into Bathurst. The road has since been straightened out, the old road being about half a kilometre away to the right (coming from Sydney). The coach would have stopped for a toll-bar near Yetholme.
•The Hill End goldfields were an important destination for Cobb & Co, which operated a passenger service to nearby Tambaroora and, for a year, into Hill End itself. Gold was discovered at nearby Hawkins Hill in the mid-1850s and Hill End quickly went from being a sleepy village to a goldrush town with over 8000 residents. The rush was short-lived; the end of the lode came by 1874 and the town’s population dwindled to less than a thousand people. Proclaimed an historic site in 1967, Hill End is remarkable in that almost all of its buildings date from around 1872 and it looks much as it did over a century ago. The site is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which also operates a museum in the village that features a Cobb & Co coach. At Tambaroora, 3km from Hill End on the Mudgee road, you can still see the chimney from the Cobb & Co changing station and, across the street, the floor of the original post office.
•Kelso was the first settlement west of the Blue Mountains set apart for free settlers, and as such was an important mail depot for Cobb & Co. The coach had to stop for a toll-bar near Kelso, on the Sydney road just before Gilmour Street.
•Cobb & Co was responsible for the mail from Limekilns, which was carried by dray or on horseback to Bathurst. This little mining village had a post office, one hotel (The Rising Sun) and a population of 270 in 1866.
•The Old Wellington Inn was on the Guyong turn-off to the goldfields at Byng and Ophir.
•Cobb & Co delivered mail thrice weekly to Peel, which had a population of 250 in 1866. The original court house where gold was weighed, the old post office hiding behind a rambling wisteria, the blacksmith’s cottage and the overgrown Cobb & Co changing station can all still be seen from the narrow village streets.
•Rock Poole’s Pubs. On the Orange road, after the hill at Dunkeld, there were two hotels, one at the top of the hill, and one at the bottom. One was called Robin Hood and Little John and was licensed in 1842 to Joseph Poole. In 1866, Poole had a licence for The Travellers Rest at the Upper Rocks, Rocks Creek and, as there were two inns in the vicinity, we do not know if they were the same inn. Cobb & Co may have changed horses at the top of the hill before heading down towards the toll-bar. There were toll-bars every so many miles to help the government pay for construction of roads.
•Once a thriving goldfield, historic Sofala is now a picturesque village on the banks of the Turon River. Sofala had over 30,000 diggers in the goldrush days; over half of these were Chinese and you can still see Chinese water races in the area today. Cobb & Co’s daily mail run went through the Wattle Flat diggings, Wyagdon or Wiagdon (a Cobb & Co property and changing station then owned by the Rutherford family) and Peel. There was a Cobb & Co booking office at Sofala in the Royal Hotel, which still stands and welcomes travellers.
•Vittoria was called The Half-Way House and was a change station for Cobb & Co. For many years after its licence ceased, it was a wayside and district store.
•The village of Wattle Flat had a population of 2000 in 1866, which rose to 40,000 at the height of the goldrush. The original post office and Cobb & Co changing station are now private residences.
•In good weather, 4WD vehicles can journey from Bathurst to Sofala on a well-travelled Cobb & Co route, then out to Hill End and back to Bathurst via Bruinbun along what is known as the Bridle Track. Check at the Bathurst Visitor Information Centre for maps and details of road conditions.
Bathurst Visitor Information Centre
Make the most of your visit to the beautiful Bathurst district.
Enjoy exploring the city’s attractions and surrounding historic villages and towns.
Drop in for maps, guides and a host of information to help you plan your stay.
1 Kendall Avenue, Bathurst
Phone 02 6332 1444 or Free Call 1800 68 1000
Open daily 9am-5pm