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The Central West is agriculturally productive and is encompassed by tablelands, slopes and plains.  Thirteen council shires comprise the Central West - Bathurst, Bland, Blayney, Cabonne, Cowra, Forbes, Lachlan, Lithgow, Mid-Western Regional, Oberon, Orange, Parkes, Weddin.

Volunteer Required for the position of Central West County Coordinator.  A County Coordinator maintains the county website and moderates the existing message board.  This is not a difficult position and anyone with basic web editing experience and a genuine interest in the region is welcome to apply.  In addition to web and query maintenance, a County Coordinator also oversees the local GenWebs within its region.  This duty is non-technical as a County Coordinator operates in an advisory capacity only.  Existing Local GenWeb Coordinators and non-locals are welcome to apply for the position.

Join Rootsweb's AUS-NSW-CENTRAL mailing list - suitable for anyone with a genealogical interest in the Central District; includes the towns of Nyngan, Dubbo, Parkes, Wagga Wagga, Albury, Griffith and Deniliquin

Bathurst (map) is a regional centre approximately 200km west of Sydney (population circa 37,001).  Home of one of the campuses of Charles Sturt University, it is a cathedral city, being the seat for the Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops of Bathurst.  

Known for the Mt Panorama motor racing circuit, venue for the Bathurst 1000 motor race each October, Bathurst is also the home town of wartime Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley, who represented the area in the Federal Parliament and is buried in Bathurst.  Bathurst is unique in that it has a collection of house museums representing different periods of its history from first settlement to the 1970s. The house museums include Old Government Cottage, Abercrombie House, Miss Traill's House and Chifley Home.

The Bathurst area was originally occupied by the Wiradjuri people.  Government surveyor George William Evans was the first European to sight the Bathurst Plains in 1813.  The town was founded in 1815 on the orders of Governor Lachlan Macquarie; it is the oldest inland town in Australia. The name Bathurst comes from the surname of the British Colonial Secretary Lord Bathurst. It was intended to be the administrative centre of the western plains of New South Wales where orderly colonial settlement was planned.  Local Wiradjuri groups under leaders such as Windradyne resisted the settlers until the Frontier Wars of the early 1820s ended the open conflict.

The initial settlement of Bathurst was on the eastern side of the river in 1816 (in today's suburb of Kelso).  Ten men were each granted 50 acres (200,000 m); five were new born colonials and five were immigrants. These men were William Lee, Richard Mills, Thomas Kite, Thomas Swanbrooke, George Cheshire, John Abbott, John Blackman, James Blackman, John Neville and John Godden.  

In 1818, Governor Lachlan Macquarie stated in his diary:

"This morning I inspected 10 new settlers for Bathurst. I have agreed to grant each 50 acres (200,000 m) of land, a servant, a cow, four bushels (141 litres) of wheat, an allotment in the new town, and to provide for them for 12 months from the King's stores."

Bathurst's economy was transformed by the discovery of gold in 1851. It later became the centre of an important coal-mining and manufacturing region. The Sydney railway reached Bathurst in 1876.

Bathurst GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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Bland Shire (map) is a local government area situated on the Newell and Mid-Western Highways. The largest town and council seat is West Wyalong.  The Shire's major economic activities include agriculture, mining, transport, tourism and wholesale distribution.  The region includes the towns of Wyalong, Barmedman, Tallimba, Ungarie, Weethalle and Mirrool.

Bland GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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Blayney (map) is a farming town and administrative centre (population circa 2,613).  It is situated on the Mid-Western Highway about 243km west of Sydney, 37km west of Bathurst and 863m above sea-level.  Blayney Shire  encompasses the townships of Carcoar, Millthorpe and the smaller villages of Mandurama, Lyndhurst, Neville, Barry and Newbridge. 

Blayney GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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Cabonne Shire (map) is a local government area which includes the towns of Canowindra, Cargo, Cudal, Cumnock, Eugowra, Manildra and Yeoval.  The largest town and council seat is Molong.  The area is known for agriculture (including grape growing and wine-production), tourism, (including ballooning) and mining.

Cabonne GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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Cowra (map) is a town and local government area located 310m above sea-level and about 300kms west of Sydney on the banks of the Lachlan River.  The area was originally inhabited by the Wiradjuri people. The first white explorer, George Wilson Evans, entered the Lachlan Valley in 1815. He named the area the Oxley Plains after his superior the surveyor-general, John Oxley. In 1817 he deemed the area unfit for white settlement. A Military Depot was established not long after at Soldiers Flat near present day Billimari. Arthur Rankin and James Sloan from Bathurst were amongst the first white settlers on the Lachlan. They moved to the area in 1831.

The township of Coura Rocks had its beginnings in 1840; by 1847 it had been renamed Cowra.  The village was proclaimed in 1849. In the 1850s many gold prospectors passed through the town heading for the gold fields at Lambing Flat (Young) and Grenfell. The first school was established in 1857; while the first bridge over the Lachlan River was built in 1870.  Gold was discovered at Mount McDonald in the 1880s. The rail head, from Sydney, reached Cowra in 1886. Local government was granted in 1888. The first telephone exchange was established in 1901. The town water supply was established in 1909, the gasworks in 1912 and town supplied electricity was introduced in 1924.

During World War II Cowra was the site of a prisoner of war (POW) camp. Most of the detainees were captured Japanese and Italian military personnel. On August 5, 1944 at least 545 (some sources suggest over 1000) Japanese POWs attempted a mass breakout from the camp, in perhaps the largest prison escape in world history. Simultaneously, other Japanese prisoners committed suicide, or were killed by their countrymen, inside the camp.

The actions of the POWs in storming machine gun posts, armed only with improvised weapons, showed what Prime Minister John Curtin described as a 'suicidal disregard of life' and had no chance of success. During the breakout and subsequent recapture of POWs, four Australian guards and 231 Japanese died; 108 prisoners were wounded.  A Japanese garden in Cowra commemorates these events. The garden was designed by Ken Nakajima in the style of the Edo period and opened in 1979. An annual cherry blossom festival is held in the gardens during late September early October each year.  An Avenue of honour also commemorates those who died in World War I.

The Shire has a number of small villages such as Billimari, Darbys Falls, Morongla, Mount McDonald, Woodstock, Gooloogong, Noonbinna, Wyangala and Wattamondara. 

Cowra GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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Forbes (map) is a town and local government area located on the Newell Highway between Parkes and West Wyalong.  Situated on the banks of the Lachlan River, the town is 245m above sea-level and about 380km west of Sydney (population circa 8,500). It is a prime wheat growing area.

The area was occupied by the Wiradjuri people prior to European settlement. John Oxley passed through in 1817 during one of the first inland expeditions. Oxley named the site Camp Hill. He was unimpressed with the clay soil, poor timber and swamps and he concluded, it is impossible to imagine a worse country. The first settlers moved into the district in 1834.

Gold was discovered by Harry Stephens, also known as 'German Harry' in June 1861.  Initially found in the area known as Halpin's Flat, the goldfields were named 'Black Ridge'.  The Albion Hotel, once a Cobb & Co stage coach destination, has tunnels situated beneath which were used during the gold rush to convey gold and money to and from the banks in order to minimise the chance of theft.

Initially about 30,000 people moved to the Lachlan goldfields, but by 1863 this had declined to about 3,500 because of the difficult mining conditions. It was during this gold-rush that the name Forbes came into use. The name possibly comes from the surname of Francis Forbes, the first chief justice of NSW.  The name was administered through Sydney possibly as a government error.  It is said that the name was meant for the town now known as 'Hill End' near Mudgee where gold was also  discovered at a similar time. 

One of Australia's most renowned bushrangers, Ben Hall, was shot dead in gun battle about 20km to the north-west of town on 5 May, 1865.  Hall and his gang were famous for stealing 77kg of gold and 3,700 from the near-by town of Eugowra in 1862. He is buried in the Forbes Cemetery.  Kate Kelly, the sister of bushranger Ned Kelly, lived in the town and drowned in a lagoon on the Lachlan River in 1898.  She is also buried in Forbes Cemetery.

Towns and villages  include Bedgerebong, Bundbarrah, Corradgery, Daroobalgie, Eugowra, Ooma North and Paytens Bridge. 

Forbes GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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Lachlan (map) is a Local Government Area in the Central West of New South Wales on the Lachlan River. The largest town and council seat is Condobolin. The Shire also includes the towns and villages of Tottenham, Lake Cargelligo, Tullibigeal, Albert, Burcher and Fifield.

Lachlan GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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Lithgow (map) is a town and local government area situated in a valley named Lithgow's Valley (population circa 18,750).  Named by  John Oxley in honour of William Lithgow, the first Auditor-General of New South Wales, the city sits just west of the Blue Mountains on the Great Western Highway about two hours drive west of Sydney. The town is the centre of a coal mining district and there are a number of coal-powered power stations nearby.

Lithgow is the site of Australia's first steel mill. Also notable is the Zig Zag Railway attraction, built in the 1800s to overcome the mountainous terrain of the Great Dividing Range. Although it has been superseded by more modern engineering methods, it remains a popular tourist attraction.

Lithgow GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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Mid-Western Regional Council (map) was proclaimed on 26 May 2004 and incorporates the whole of the former Mudgee Shire Council and parts of the former Merriwa and Rylstone Shires.

Mid-Western GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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Oberon (map) is a town and local government area in the central tablelands of NSW.  It was proclaimed a village in 1863; its population circa 5,077 of whom approximately 2,700 live within the township.  The main industries are farming, forestry and wood products.  The town is 1,113 m (3,600 ft) above sea level and is prone to snow in winter.  From the early 1920s through to the 1970s, Oberon was served by a branch railway line noted for its steep 4% gradients and sharp 100m radius curves.  Oberon Shire is home to the Jenolan Caves and Kanangra Boyd National Park.

Oberon GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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Orange (map) is a provincial city and local government area located on the Mitchell Highway about 250kms west of Sydney at an altitude of 862 metres (population circa 40,000).   Key industries include agriculture, mining, health services and education.  A significant landmark nearby is Mount Canobolas at an altitude of 1,395 metres. Orange is one of the few population centres in Australia to receive relatively frequent snowfalls. It is the birthplace of poets Banjo Paterson and Kenneth Slessor.

In 1822 Captain Percy Simpson drove into the Wellington District and established a convict settlement called 'Blackman's Swamp' after John Blackman.  Percy had employed John Blackman as a guide because he had already accompanied an earlier explorer into that region.  

Blackman's Swamp was proclaimed a village and named Orange by Major Thomas Mitchell in 1846 in honour of Prince William of Orange. At nearby Ophir in 1851, the first discovery of gold in Australia was made which led to the Australian Gold Rush.  Subsequent discoveries of gold in nearby areas led to the establishment of Orange as a central trading centre for gold. This is contrary to the popluar belief that gold was first discovered close to the nearby regional town of Bathurst, New South Wales.

The growth of Orange continued as the conditions were well suited for agriculture, and in 1860 it was proclaimed a municipality. The railway from Sydney reached Orange in 1877.

Orange GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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Parkes (map) is a town and local government area located on the Australian transcontinental railway line.  With the presence of the nearby Parkes Observatory, Parkes plays an important role in the scientific community. In addition to local research conducted at the radio telescope, Parkes scientists have assisted NASA for several missions as a Southern Hemisphere relay and communications station.

A rich variety of farming is conducted in the region immediately surrounding Parkes, although the staple farming is wheat and wool.  Parkes attracted significant attention during the gold rush of the 1870s and modern mining companies still have sites in the nearby region.  Parkes became a key country location after the completion of the railway in 1893, serving as a hub for a great deal of passenger and freight transport up until the 1980s. 

Parkes was originally founded in 1853 as the settlement Currajong, named for the abundance of Kurrajong trees in the local area.  Later it was known as Bushman's (from the local mine named Bushman's Lead).  In 1873 the town was renamed to Parkes in honor of Sir Henry Parkes, otherwise known as the 'Father of the Federation'.

Parkes GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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Weddin Shire Council (map) is a local government area of which Grenfell is a significant town.  Grenfell is 370kms west of Sydney and five hours drive from the city (population circa 2,500).  It is a historic goldmining town first known as Emu Creek and renamed in honour of John Grenfell, Gold Commissioner at Forbes, who had been killed in 1866 when bushrangers attacked a stagecoach on which he was travelling.  By 1870-71 it was producing more gold than any other town in NSW. However by the mid-1870s gold was in decline. Wheat was first grown in the district in 1871. The railway reached Grenfell in 1901.  The poet and story writer Henry Lawson was born on the nearby gold fields.

Weddin Shire incorporates the communities of Arramagong, Arramagong West, Berendebba, Bimbi, Bogalong, Bribbaree, Brundah, Bumbaldry, Bungalong, Caragabal, Eualdrie, Eurabba, Glenelg, Greenthorpe, Grenfell, Iandra, Marsden, Mogongong, Ooma, Piney Range, Pullabooka, Quandialla, Quandong, Warraderry, Weddin, Wirega and Wirrinya.

Weddin GenWeb Coordinator:  Volunteer Required

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