Forbes Town & Around Web site
Forbes History - Forbes Central West NSW
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Forbes History
Central West NSW
Forbes History  -  Forbes Community Links
Forbes community information - clubs and groups, history, Forbes area map, local regional produce, transport services
For a five year period In the 1860's the Lachlan was gripped in gold frenzy.  The frantic excitement and promise of instant riches was experienced time and again as new strikes sent miners rushing off after their elusive fortunes.  Forbes, Parkes, Young, Peak Hill, West Wtyalong and Grenfell can all trace their beginnings back to gold towns.  In the early 1860's the population swelled to more than 40,000.
None of the Lachlan fields were like the Hill End bonanza but collectively they produced more gold than any other group of workings in NSW.  It was during this period that Ben Hall and ;his lieutenants John Gilbert and John Dunn, often considered less villainous than some of the other famous bushrangers, roamed the Lachlan region before being shot at Bogan Gate, north-west of Forbes, in 1865.   You can visit the site where he was shot and his grave in Forbes Cementary.  There is a statue of this famous bushranger and a room dedicated to him at the Forbes Visitors Information Centre in the Old Railway Station in Union Street..
In the cemetary, along with Ben Hall are the graves of Kate Foster, who was Ned Kelly's sister, and Rebecca Shield, a great grand-niece of Captain cook.
John Oxley the explorer passed by what is now known as Forbes in 1817 and named it, Camp Hill.  Squatters in the 1830's knew it as Bogabigal, the post office originally knew it as Black Ridge and it was not till the gold miners of 1861 that Forbes was choses as the name, after Sir Frances Forbes, the first Chief Justice of New South Wales.
Gold was discovered in what is now the town's King George V Park in 1861 and the population jumped to 30,000 but by 1863 the gold frenzy moved to the NZ goldfields and the population dropped to 3500.
Mining, however, did continue.  In 1915 here were still eight mining companies operating in Forbes.
The Vandenburg Hotel -  was originally called the Court House Hotel - and renamed the Vandenburg in about 1880.  With it's grand gardens, fountain and private coach to meet visitors at the railway station it catered for a different clientele from the Albion Hotel (lost to fire in February 2009) which took more money across the bar (said to be 100 pounds a day) in the gold rush days than any other hotel in the colony.
It is believed that rooms beneath the Albion Hotel were used during the gold rush period to convey gold and money to and from the banks to avoid the threat of robbery at street level.
Before being destroyed by fire the Albion Hotel had established a Bushranger Hall of Fame featuring Ben Hall, Frank Gardiner, John O'Meally and many others that contributed to the events of that time.  Ben Hall and his gang have left a marked impression on Forbes' history.
The Forbes Historical Society Museum, located Cross Street also has a Ben Hall display.
The Historical Heritage of Forbes has survived and there are a large number of beautiful unique historic buildings dating back to the late 1800's that have been preserved - despite the development that has made it one of the major towns in the Lachlan region.
The gold rush days gave way to wool, wheat and fruit growing, and lucerne production - these industries, along with dairying and meat production contine to be the backbone of the Forbes district economy today.
The inaugural Municipal Council was formed in 1870 and Forbes entered a golden era of construction with an enduring legacy of beautiful public buildings and the historic Victoria Square.
The town water supply was established in 1885 with irrigation first introduced in the 1860's.  This gave stability to the town and district with the marvellous water supply of the Lachlan remaining Forbes' most precious resource.
Historic Buildings, Forbes Heritage -
  • The Town Hall opened in 1891 (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • The Post Office completed in 1881.  The first of four post offices was established in late 1861 under the name Black Ridge Post Office. (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • The Albion Hotel - was first established in 1861.  The building lost to fire in February 2009 was completed in the early 1890's.  Formerly one of the town's Cobb & Co stops and booking office  it had a tower on top that was used as a lookout for approaching coaches. (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • St John's Anglican Church -  building began in 1874 and the nave was completed in 1877. (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • Vandenberg Hotel - the original part of this hotel was built before 1879. (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • St Andrew's Presbyterian Church - completed in 1877. (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • Victoria Park - within the old town square with a gracious fountain donated by Mayor William Thomas in 1891. (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • Court House - built in 1880.  (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • NSW Government Offices - known largely as the Lands Office - a sophisticated example of late 19th century timber architecture. (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • Anglesey House - a beautifully restored two storey Victorian town house in Templar Street built in 1884.  (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • National Australia Bank - Designed by Mansfield Bros and built in 1884. (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • St Laurence o'Toole's Catholic Church & Presbytery - the foundation stone laid in 1878 and the building opened in 1880. (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • Forbes Pioneer Cemetery - final resting place of Forbes' earliest residents.  (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • Forbes Library -  1923.
  • The Westpac & ANZ Bank buildings - (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • The Australia & Victoria Hotels - (Classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW))
  • Vampire Jet - located on the shores of Lake Forbes a single-seater fighter bomber introduced to the RAAF in 1949.

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