Cobar… Mining, Drought and Resilience

Cobar, NSW

Cobar is a mining town in the Mid-West of New South Wales.  The local economy relies on gold and base metals mining.  As a consequence, fortunes can fluctuate for the locals (approx. 4000). 

At its peak, Cobar had a population of 10,000. It also became the regional centre for nearby mining villages such as Canbelego and Mount Drysdale. However, copper mining operations slowed in 1920, and by the 1930s the town’s population had dropped to little over 1,000, only to rise again and stabilise at around 3,500 through the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Open Cut Mine, Cobar NSW
Open Cut Mine, Cobar NSW

The town retains much of its colonial 19th-century architecture.

Cobar Main Street
Cobar Main Street

In many ways it is a typical remote mining town, with a strong sense of community and a  resilience that has all but disappeared in the large State Capitals.

During a recent visit the temperatures hovered around 40 (C) during the day and the pace of life was slow.  The colours of the desert in the surrounding landscape emphasised the long running drought and served to emphasize the cheerful hardiness of the locals.

Redundant Petrol Station in Cobar NSW
Redundant Petrol Station in Cobar NSW

The town is on the Junction of the Kidman Way and the Barrier Highway.  The Kidman Way draws its history from the stock routes that linked cattle stations in the region, many of which were owned by Sir Sidney Kidman, an Australian pastoralist and philanthropist.  The Barrier Highway is where the Outback begins, with plenty of kangaroos, emus, goats and giant tumbleweeds to watch out for on the road.

Cobar Railway Station
The Cobar line opened on 1 July 1892, and continues to carry wheat and ore. Passenger services ceased in 1975. The Railway Station is now heritage listed.

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