Carcoar... The Way We Lived
Carcoar is the third oldest settlement west of the Blue Mountains and was gazetted in 1835 at the behest of a local landowner Thomas Icely. The first allotments in the town were sold in 1840. Eventually Carcoar would become an important banking and administrative centre and by the mid 19th century it was the second most populous town west of the mountains, second in size only to Bathurst.
Carcoar's Commercial Bank was constructed in 1862 but gained notoriety the following year when it played host to John Gilbert and John O'Meally who were members of Ben Hall's gang. At 1pm, on July 30 the two men entered the premises and bailed up chief clerk Joseph Parker, telling him to be quiet and throw up his hands or they would blow his brains out. Moments earlier Mr McDonald, the bank manager, had left the building and was crossing the street to talk with a local tradesman when he happened to look back and see the two men enter the bank. Not liking their appearance McDonald went to investigate and was met at the door by O'Meally who ordered the manager to come inside but McDonald declined and ran hurriedly backwards out into the street where he fell into a cellar which was being dug for a new hotel. Whilst Gilbert and O'Meally were being distracted Parker sprang down behind the counter and grabbed a loaded revolver which he fired twice into the air. Realising that their attempt to rob the bank had been thwarted the bushrangers coolly left the premises and threatened to shoot anyone who got in their way. The two men managed to make their getaway despite the attempt by one enterprising young woman to untie their mounts. According to a witness: 'the town was all astir, but not one gun or pistol was to be found loaded. .As luck would have it, they got no money, being afraid, to go behind the counter for fear of Mr Parker's revolver.' The incident is still commemorated to this day with re-enactments on Australia Day.
The arrival of railway transport in the late 1880's was much anticipated and provided a lifeline for a community whose growth had waned due to the lack of railway communication and adequate roads. On Saturday August 5th 1882, The Carcoar Chronicle captured a spirit of renewed vigour and optimism among the people of Carcoar when it reported:
'Our Railway. On Monday morning last, the welcome news reached Carcoar that it had been decided at headquarters, that the railway from Blayney to Murrumburrah was to be constructed through Carcoar, on the east side of Stoke Hill. Many were the expressions of joy, old and young seemed as if a great load had been lifted off their shoulders, as if they had just come off victorious after a hard fought battle, or as if they had gained something which they had long sought for. Sober men stood at the corners of the streets talking of the future prospects of Carcoar, and picturing to themselves the prosperity in store for the town.'
Unfortunately that early optimism was never quite fulfilled and Carcoar's position as a commercial and administrative centre would eventually be supplanted by Blayney which had surged ahead having established itself as a hub for the railway some twelve years earlier. As the decades rolled on Carcoar was destined to become a sleepy rural backwater seemingly untouched by 20th century progress. This lack of progress would ultimately prove to be a blessing in disguise and by the mid 1970's a growing national nostalgia and fascination with our past would see Carcoar being touted as one of Australia's finest and most intact 19th century towns.
Today visitors to Carcoar can walk in their forebears' footsteps, along the tree-lined streets and amble by the river - taking time to reflect on the lives of the men & women who passed through Carcoar on their way to settle the west of the state.
Museums & Research
Researching your family history or simply wanting to immerse yourself in a bygone era, discover the past in five museums ranging from medical to military and including agricultural machinery, police and justice, and toys. There are trained historians in the village who can help you find your ancestors, and fine examples of colonial architecture to enhance the feeling of nostalgia.
Carcoar & District Historical Society Inc. - Tel: (02) 6367 4155 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stoke Stable Museum - Opening Hours 10.00 - 4.00pm daily
Court House Museum - Open weekends, public holidays or by appointment on (02) 6367 4155
Carmanhurst Military Museum - Open by appointment. Tel (02) 6367 3125
Carcoar Hospital Museum - By appointment and on advertised open days. Tel: 6367 3056 or 6367 5068 or 6367 3172
20th Century Toy Museum - Open 11am to 5pm Wednesday to Sunday during the Spring and Autumn tourist seasons.
This Website is operated for the benefit of the community. Listings are free to all local businesses and organisations wishing to highlight themselves to residents and visitors.