Gloucester is a small country town nestled in the Avon Valley, in the Manning District of the Mid-North Coast, New South Wales, Australia. Home to around 4000 people, the area is a scenic one, a short drive from the Hunter Valley. Its industries include dairy and beef cattle, tourism and, to a lesser extent, timber milling. Gloucester's main attractions are its beautiful green landscapes (Gloucester has one of the highest rainfalls in New south Wales), its scenic fresh water rivers, its festivals and annual show, the Barrington Tops National Park and the iconic Bucketts (a unique mountain formation), at the base of which the town sits.
The Gloucester district was first visited by Robert Dawson, Chief Agent for the Australian Agricultural Company - or the A.A. Company as it was generally known - in 1826. Settlement occurred in the 1830s. The township of Gloucester was established in 1855, primarily for sheep farming, however it became apparent that the land was not entirely suitable.
In 1876, gold was discovered in Copeland, a small town north-west of Gloucester. Copeland became a large town of over 3,000 inhabitants due to the gold discovery and the large number of red cedar (Toona australis) trees. However, the population has since dwindled to a population of a few hundred.
The Australian Agricultural Company had been awarded mineral rights to half a million acres (2,000 km²) between the Karuah River and the Manning River, which covered the Gloucester district. The company employed surveyors in 1856-7 to undertake a trial survey for a railway between Port Stephens and Stroud, New South Wales and north passing what became Gloucester to the Manning River. At the time it was felt that with the "formidable obstructions" from ranges and rivers a line would be impracticable and construction was not proceeded with, and coal mining was abandoned before it had commenced.
However, in 1995, Gloucester Coal, originally Stratford Coal, began mining in Stratford, a small town 12 km south of Gloucester, this is the only active coal mine in the region.
For most of the 20th century it boasted two cinemas in the main thoroughfare - Church Street: The Star (opposite Permewans, closed c1968), and the Majestic Theatre (built early 1920s). The Majestic did not permanently close its doors until c1980, and although the building still stands it is now a shopping arcade. The district has a weekly newspaper, The Gloucester Advocate.
Over the past few years Gloucester Resources has bought land closer to the township for the purpose of mining. Although the majority of the local community oppose the operation, it is possible that in the next few years mining in the area will commence and taint this beautiful valley permanently.
The four main industries of the Gloucester area are: tourism, timber, cattle farming and, now, coal. The timber industry has been prevalent in Gloucester since the late 19th century, and it and cattle farming are still major industries in and around Gloucester; both dairy and beef cattle.
The township and surrounding area
The Township of Gloucester is a small one containing a main street lined with small cafes, clothing shops, real estate agents, two grocery stores, two pubs and a bakery. There are no traffic lights in Gloucester however there are two round-a-bouts. If you're out to seek the Australian country town experience, Gloucester is a perfect destination.
There are a number of small townships in the surrounding area, the biggest being Barrington, which has a General store, a Salon, a hall and a few houses, there is also Stratford, Craven and Rookhurst. There are also rural areas known as parishes which encompass Gloucester, such as Mograni, Avon, Forbesdale, Faulkland and Belbora.
Tourist information centre
The Gloucester Visitor Information Centre is at 27 Denison St, just around the corner from the Foodworks supermarket on the main street.
1 Gloucester station can be reached by NSW Trainlink Regional trains that travel up and down the north coast line to and from Sydney to Grafton or Brisbane. Several trains make the journey both ways everyday. Trip from Sydney takes around 4 hours and 15 minutes. Prices are usually around $30 but do vary depending on the season.
NSW Trainlink Regional buses are the only other option of public transport, they are cheaper than the trains but also much slower.
Gloucester can be reached also by car, the main road to town has a turnoff onto the Pacific Highway, the turnoff for those coming from the south is about 10 km after Heatherbrae and at Nabiac for those coming from the north.