I’m one of those people that get a kick out of those times when real life imitates the big screen or the pages of a book. Despite my love of the finer things in life, it doesn’t have to be all glitz and glamour, it can be those small moments where I simply get a little thrill from being somewhere completely new. On a recent road trip to New South Wales I got exactly that feeling when I visited the little town of Cobar.
Cobar is a town in central western New South Wales, on the edge of the outback. It is at the crossroads between the Kidman Way, which runs north to Queensland and south Victoria and the Barrier Highway, which runs east to South Australia and west to Sydney. Although it’s not likely to be your final destination, Cobar is definitely somewhere you should stop for a night or two if travelling along the Barrier Highway or Kidman Way.
I can’t tell you how ridiculously excited I got when we passed the “You are now entering Outback New South Wales” sign on the way there. It was my first time in the Outback in Australia, and I loved being surrounded by the red earth – Cobar actually means Red Earth or Burnt Earth in Aboriginal. It was also funnily enough, my first time seeing kangaroos, and emus in the wild – and I didn’t see one single snake the entire time I was there, so everything was perfect! To top it off, one afternoon I followed a guy who looked like Crocodile Dundee down the main street – complete with hat and boots. Yes it may seem stupid but I was seriously overloading on excitement. Being in the Outback was exactly like I had seen in the movies!
Cobar has a rich mining history dating back to 1870 when copper was first discovered in the area. Today you can visit a few of the old mines including the lookout at Fort Bourke Hill where you can view Cobar’s first open cut gold mine. It’s considered a small mine in comparison to some around the country but it looked huge! The giant trucks looked like tiny ants hurrying around the bottom.
At The Great Cobar Heritage Centre you can learn more about the history of Cobar, and take a wander through a makeshift mine, and an old hospital railway carriage, which used to visit patients in the area. The heritage centre is a beautiful old building and is really well set up and has a ton of information. You could easily spend a few hours there. The staff are also really helpful too and can give you maps and information about other things to see and do in the area.
From the Heritage Centre, you can get a map and start the Cobar Heritage Walk which takes about an hour. You’ll wander around various points of interest and learn about the old historical buildings in Cobar, from the grand old buildings of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, to the accommodation used by the miners.
There are some cute little shops and an art and craft gallery down the main street of Cobar which we popped in and out of. Everywhere people stopped to say hello and find out where we were from, and ask if we needed any help. My one and only bad experience though was at a cafe called Country Simplicity. The women there who I assume was the owner definitely needed a lesson in customer service, and how to smile. When we asked if we could have one of our teas weak and to take out the tea leaves earlier than the other two, the response was “you’ll get what you’re given”!! Needless to say the tea was way too strong and she’s lucky we didn’t tell her to shove the teapot somewhere dark! We also got a talking to for wanting to have our cream teas outside as she didn’t want to bring the china or glass out there. She must have thought we were Greek and would smash the china at the end of our afternoon tea or something??!! This type of superiority complex would see her out of business within a week in somewhere like Melbourne. People just don’t put up with bad service anymore.
On the plus side, the other cafe we visited in town was called the Twisted Sisters, and they did a great chocolate and banana thick shake. The staff were friendly and chatty, and it was streets ahead in terms of customer service from Country Simplicity. We didn’t eat there but I’d definitely go back there when I visit Cobar again.
Now as with a lot of country towns, the places that are the busiest, most frequented, and the locals favourite watering holes, are the local pubs. The Great Western Hotel is one of these. It has obviously been renovated recently and is really nice inside with tons of space across lots of different rooms. It’s also holds the claim to fame for having Australia’s longest pub verandah at 100 metres long. It’s definitely a beautiful old building that stands proud on Cobar’s main street.
Not to be outdone, The Grand Hotel just down the road is also famous for having the largest beer can in Australia on it’s roof. It’s a whopping 5 metres high and 2.5 metres wide and holds 22,000 litres of beer – now that’s one hell of a party!
The people in Cobar that I met were so friendly and welcoming. You instantly felt like one of the family and a local of the town. People would wave hello as they drove past you on the street, or nod hello as they walked past. It’s definitely got to be one of the friendliest places I’ve visited in Australia so far.
Above all else you need to visit Cobar for the amazing sunsets! Just about every night we were treated to a multicolour display in the sky. It was simply stunning.
There is a range of accommodation options available in Cobar. Check out the Cobar Shire Council Website or the Visit NSW website for more details. The Visit NSW website also has lots of information regarding Cobar and the surrounding area – click here for more details.