Cobar is a town of 4,000 people (2016) in the Far West region of New South Wales whose economy is based mainly upon base metals and gold mining. The town retains much of its colonial 19th-century architecture. The Towsers Huts, 3 km south of town but not accessible to the public, are ruins of very simple colonial dwellings from around 1870. The ancient Aboriginal rock paintings at Mount Grenfell are some of the largest and most important in Australia.
The name Cobar is derived from the Aboriginal Ngiyampaa word for copper, Kuparr, Gubarr or Cuburra, meaning 'red earth' or 'burnt earth', the ochre used in making body paint for Corroborees. The name also represents an Aboriginal attempt to pronounce the word 'copper'. Some of the most significant Aboriginal rock art in NSW is found within the Cobar Shire. The indigenous Ngiyampaa/Wangaapuwan traditions of this diverse bio-region are best represented in the rock art of Mount Grenfell, 40 km west of Cobar. Over 1,300 depictions of humans and animals, as well as hand stencils are found at this site.
Pastoralist settlers began to farm the area in the mid-1850s. One of these pastoralists, rescued a party of Aboriginal trackers from near-certain death in the early 1870s; in gratitude, they guided him to Australia's largest copper deposit. This led to settlements being founded with Australia's European and Asian gold rush immigrant arrivals. The Great Cobar Copper Mining Company Limited was established in 1878.
At its peak, Cobar had a population of 10,000. However, copper mining operations slowed in 1920, and by the 1930s the town's population had dropped to little over 1,000. In the 1980s, gold, silver, lead and zinc were discovered in the area, which led to a population increase.
- Visitor's Centre, 43 Linsley Street, ☏ . M-F 8:30AM-5PM, Sa Su holidays 9AM-5PM.
If you're coming from the NSW seaboard, the most direct way of getting to Cobar is via Dubbo, Nyngan, and the Barrier Highway. The Kidman Way passes through the town north-to-south, and can be used if you're coming from Queensland (via Bourke) or Victoria (via Griffith).
The Broken Hill coach service meets the Dubbo XPT and stops at Cobar.
- 1 Cobar Airport (CAZ IATA). Pelican Air has flights from Sydney Tu W F $350 one-way. The airport is around 6 km SW of the town centre, so you'll need a taxi or hire car into town. However, if you do feel like walking or cycling, there is an off-road path that takes you to the airport, so you don't need to be on the road.
The next closest airport would be Dubbo, from where rental cars are available.
It's hard to get lost in a town as small as Cobar, and you can see most of it in a couple of hours - at most - of walking. There is a taxi service (+61 2 6836 2684).
- Several fine heritage buildings from the late 1880s/early 1900s settlement are still in existence, including the Great Western Hotel (1898), claimed to have the longest verandah (at 91 metres) in New South Wales, the Cobar Post Office (1885), the Cobar Court House (1887) and Court House Hotel (1895) in Barton Street, as well as the Cobar Heritage and Visitor Information Centre, in the former Mines Office (1910).
- Great Cobar Heritage Centre, 43 Linsley Street, ☏ . M-F 8:30AM-5PM, Sa Su holidays 9AM-5PM. $15.
- The town has an interesting mining museum on the highway at the eastern end of town. It covers much of the history of the town and its people, and will give you an idea of how hard life was when the first settlers arrived in the 19th century.
- The local tourist office supplies a free walking tour map.
- Cobar is home to the "Big Beer Can", which sits above the entrance to the Grand Hotel.
- Fort Bourke Hill Lookout - Open daily 9AM-5PM - View Cobar township & landscape, open mine pit & entrance to underground mine from a viewing platform. The historic Towsers Huts are here as well. They are a series of stone miners' cottages dating back as early as the 1890s, possibly even the 1870s. They were built by an Italian miner, Antonio Tozzi. Use the sealed access road off Kidman Way south of Cobar.
- Visits to mine sites may be arranged through the Cobar Heritage and Visitor Information Centre overlooking the open cut mine.
- The Festival of the Miners' Ghost, held during the last weekend in October, is a festival celebrating the spirits of the old miners
- 1 Newey Reservoir, 2 Knight Dr. A relaxing day-use-only park by this water reservoir with sheltered picnic tables and BBQ. Water and public toilets available. Not recommended for caravans.
- Khan's SUPA IGA Plus Liquor, 41 Marshall St (Barrier Hwy), ☏ . Open 7 days.
- SUPA IGA Cobar, 71 Linsley St, ☏ . Open 7 days.
- Bob and Elaine's Bakery, just off the main road, opposite the park. The cream buns are recommended.
- 1 Ma's Chinese Restaurant, 37 Murray St (3 blocks south of the Barrier Hwy within the Cobar Bowling & Golf Club.), ☏ , email@example.com. Separate takeaway and restaurant entries from the Club.
- 1 Copper City Hotel, 40 Lewis St, ☏ .
- Cobar Town & Country Motor Inn, 52 Marshall St (Barrier Hwy), ☏ .
- Cobar Oasis Motel, 76 Marshall St (Barrier Hwy), ☏ .
- Cobar Central Motor Inn, 18 Murray St, ☏ .
- Cobar Crossroads Motel, 21 Louth Rd, ☏ .
- Hi-Way Motel Cobar, 51 Morrison St, ☏ .
- Cobar Motor Inn, 67 Marshall St (Barrier Hwy), ☏ .
- Great Western Hotel Motel, 20 Marshall (Barrier Hwy), ☏ .
- Cobar Caravan Park, 101 Marshall St (Barrier Hwy), ☏ .