BOURKE TOWN CENTRE
1.Bourke City Map Blacksmith’s Workshop
2.Richardson and Bennett’s
3.The house (or shed behind it) where Henry Lawson lived
5.Sam Doughty’s Livery Stable
6.City Coach and Buggy Works
8.Steam Coach and Wagon Factory
10.Bourke Post Office
15.Bourke Visitor Information Centre
1.Blacksmith’s workshop and house in Oxley Street. The house and shed have hardly changed over the past hundred or so years. The shed is framed in gidyea and is still blackened with the soot of the blacksmith’s fire. Beside the house is a grapevine planted in the 19th Century.
2.Richardson & Bennett’s yards and coach park were in Mitchell Street (site only). This wagon and coach factory was bought out by Cobb & Co in 1883 and became the Cobb & Co stables.
3.This house (or the shed behind it) was where Henry Lawson lived during his stay in Bourke.
4.Built in 1879 and known locally as the Union Hotel, the Carriers Arms was the booking office for the coach to Hungerford and Queensland. It was also a favourite drinking spot of Henry Lawson’s, who called it The Shearers Arm, and Lawson wrote about the proprietor, Watty Braithwaite, in his poem When the Army Prays for Watty. Apparently, the poem was inspired by a time when Lawson walked past the pub and noticed Watty lounging in an armchair on the verandah (his habitual position), oblivious to the sounds of the Salvation Army singing and praying nearby.
5.Sam Doughty’s livery stable and Horse Bazaar (site only). Cobb & Co once used these stables and yards, which were handily located next door to the Carriers Arms.
6.City Coach and Buggy Works (site only). John Myles, foreman of Cobb & Co’s Hope Street factory, opened his own works here when Cobb & Co closed the Hope Street factory in 1899.
7.The Foreman’s Residence was a small Victorian house situated beside Cobb & Co’s Hope Street factory.
8.The Steam Coach and Wagon Factory (site only) at 45 Hope Street opened in 1883 and closed in 1899, at which time it was reported in an edition of the Sydney Mail to employ 85 men.
9.Fitzgerald’s Hotel was built in 1888 as the Post Office Hotel and became known as Fitz’s when Paddy Fitzgerald and his family held the licence from 1890 until 1957. It later reverted to its original name.
10.The post office was built in 1879 and extended about five years later. During the disastrous floods of 1890, newspapers were printed on the upper floor as the building had its own levee and was not affected by floodwater.
11.Police Station (site of the first Court House). On this site on 5 June 1862, Bourke’s first court case, a bushranging charge, was held in the open air.
12.The second Court House is next door to the Post Office and was where bushranger ‘Captain Starlight’ was charged and committed for trial after his capture in 1868.
13.Riverside Motel. Formerly the Telegraph Hotel, it is thought that Cobb & Co’s private telegraph line was housed here. A century later, the Riverside and its leafy surroundings continue to offer a warm welcome to weary travellers.
14.Just south of the showground here is the camel depot where as many as 2001 camels owned by Afghan drivers were stationed as part of the Bourke Carrying Co.
15.Bourke Visitor Information Centre (see below).
16.At the Bourke Cemetery, you can see the relocated Afghan Mosque and the graves of Abdul Wade, Gunny Khan, Abdul Kadir and a huge number of interesting Cobb & Co drivers, managers, wheelwrights and employees. The cemetery also contains the grave of Malcolm Morrison, family head of the Morrison Brothers, who held the network of Cobb & Co contracts in the Bourke area. A guide to these and other notable graves, including that of renowned opthalmologist Fred Hollows, is available from the Visitor Information Centre.
BYROCK TOWN MAP
1.The new Mulga Creek Hotel
6.Old Mulga Creek Hotel site
The Byrock district has many old Cobb & Co stops where the remains of stables, hotels and change stations are still quite visible. Glenariff, Kenilworth and Mullagalah at Mulga Creek Station are a few. The area is steeped in history and legend, as well as being exceptionally beautiful.
7.The new Mulga Creek Hotel offers accommodation, camping facilities, supplies and amenities, picnic sites, bushwalks through the Mulga scrub and tales of local legends.
8.Mulga Market provides food supplies.
9.Remnants of the town include an old butcher shop, hotel etc.
10.The cemetery has been renovated recently and features general information as well as a history of individual graves. A place of remarkable charm, the project won First Place in the State Tidy Towns Awards and is well worth a visit.
11.In Aboriginal legend, the Byrock Waterhole was a meeting place which Biame, the creator god, declared sacred after drinking from its cool waters. The hole or gilgai was a very special place for Aborigines, Afghans, Cobb & Co coaches and, in later years, the railway fettlers that took advantage of its reliable water supply. Now maintained by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, the gilgai is a lovely location for a picnic and a spot of birdwatching at any time of year.
12.Old Mulga Creek Hotel site. In 1879, this site was a Cobb & Co change station. The bush shanty hosted many travellers, Cobb & Co passengers, teamsters, bushrangers and others who may have drowned their sorrows after getting stuck in ‘The Bog’ up to their axles trying to cross the creek after heavy rain, or quenched their thirst in times of drought.
The further outback you go, the closer you get to the past. The Bourke and Brewarrina areas are fascinating. Take time to travel along some of the loops from Bourke to the outlying districts that Cobb & Co traversed. Speak to the locals. Try to picture yourself back in the days of Cobb & Co as you journey along the original coaching tracks and a landscape that has changed little over the years.
•Barringun was a Cobb & Co stop on the route from Port Douglas in Queensland to Melbourne in Victoria. The Bourke coach met the Cunnamulla (Queensland) coach here and exchanged mail and passengers, then travelled through the Border Gate from Queensland to New South Wales. Cobb & Co had horse yards and a changing station near the pub. There was the Tattersall Hotel (which still welcomes you today), the Royal Mail Hotel (burnt down 10 August 1895) and four other hostelries. You can find the grave of Jim McCornick (sole driver on the Cunnamulla to Barringun run for 30 years) in the cemetery. Poet Will Ogilvie, who travelled to Barringun with Cobb & Co in 1889 for his first job, still owes the Barringun Jockey Club over a pound. Breaker Morant drank with Will at the Tattersall and sometimes entertained the drinkers by playing a comb in the local band.
•Belalie. This large station was the Cobb & Co stop before Barringun and you can see the old homestead from the road. Will Ogilvie once lived and worked here.
•Bourke and Byrock (see below).
•The Dry Lake Hotel, also called Warraweena or The Wheelhouse, burnt down in the late 1950s. Its many remains are still visible, situated between two waterholes (once public, now privately owned) that would have been used by Cobb & Co.
•Enngonia (Eringonia) This small town was a stop on the Cobb & Co itinerary; the old post office is situated on the street leading down to the Warrego River. The Enngonia Hotel was owned by Douglas McDowall, who once owned the Cobb & Co Bourke to Barringun mail run. McDowall also had the Grass Hut Hotel, which features in many personal accounts of Cobb & Co journeys. Grass Hut had a school in the early 1900s and was probably a settlement of fair size. The Oasis Hotel is built on the site of an historic hotel and still greets travellers today.
•A few kilometres north-east of Enngonia was a bore and changing station that was an important stop on the way to Barringun. Ancient date palms beckon you to the site where Afghans transported goods across the deserts with camels; during times of drought, they were known to use the camel teams to pull Cobb & Co coaches.
•Fords Bridge. The Warrego Pub now welcomes you where the Salmon Ford Pub, used by Cobb & Co as a change station, once stood. Fords Bridge also has an interesting local museum. Poet, Henry Lawson, passed through here when he walked from Bourke to Hungerford.
•Gundabooka Range. Part of Gundabooka National Park, this was where bushranger ‘Captain Starlight’ was captured on a rock ledge near a waterhole on Christmas Day in 1868.
•There were two hotels in Hungerford used by Cobb & Co. One, The Royal Mail, still stands today and offers a warm welcome, drinks, accommodation and many an interesting yarn.
•TA Mathews founded Louth, naming it after his home town in Ireland, and his son, Charlie Mathews, was a famous Cobb & Co driver. Louth was on the Cobb & Co mail route and its post office (opened 12 May 1888) is said to be situated on land donated by Mathews and is still in good condition today. Louth Cemetery has the magnificent headstone of Mary Mathews through which an amazing light shines on 15 August each year. Dan O’Connell’s Hotel was the Cobb & Co change station, and also for a time the post office (1871-1880), but burnt down on 26 January 1889. Another notable place is the Shindy’s Inn, built on an historic hotel site.
•Mount Oxley (site only) A changing station on the way to Bourke. The now private property is still owned by the family that ran the change station. Mount Oxley was a welcome relief from the flat landscape surrounding it and is mentioned in many personal memoirs of Cobb & Co journeys. Check details of road conditions at the Bourke Visitor Information Centre and ask for a permit and key to visit or camp on Mount Oxley, it is stunning!
•North Bourke Billabong and North Bourke Bridge. The Billabong was the spot where the famous Cobb & Co drive, Billy Armstrong, overturned his coach and later died. The bridge over the Darling River was opened in 1883 and was the second lift-up bridge in New South Wales.
•Situated on the Kidman Way, 60km south of Bourke, is Old Curraweena Station. Once a changing station for Cobb & Co, it is now in ruins but still features a remarkable shearing shed and parts of the original homestead. To visit the property, contact Bourke Visitor Information Centre for an appointment.
•Bill Doyle ran a weekly Cobb & Co coach service from Bourke to Wanaaring, a small settlement on the Paroo River that also has links with the historic pastoral empires of Sir Sidney Kidman and Samuel McCaughey. A new pub has replaced the building that Cobb & Co would have known, but still provides a refreshing end to a stroll around the many interesting relics in the town.
•Wangamanna Station was a camel stud owned by Abdul Kadir, an Afghan. Cobb & Co occasionally used the camels to pull the coaches during drought.
•Yantabulla features in many personal accounts of Cobb & Co journeys. There was a changing station at Yantabulla with a postal receiving office, which opened in 1890 under the control of a man named Buckley.
•As the Bourke Shire map covers such a big area, it is divided here into two sections:
Bourke Visitor Information Centre
Gateway to the Real Outback
Everything you need to enjoy your visit to historic Bourke
Mudmaps, guided tours, visitor information, road conditions, friendly advice
Railway Station Building, Anson Street, Bourke
Phone (02) 6872 1222
Open Monday to Saturday 9am-5pm
Sunday 9am-5pm (Easter to October)