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A town founded solely to mine copper from Australia’s largest deposit and which has done so for more than 140 years, Cobar sits on the eastern edge of the New South Wales outback.

Cobar Court House
By Johnismyth [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Cobar court house

Great Cobar Heritage Centre, 2017 (02)

The Great Cobar Heritage Centre

Cobar Building A 002
By Mattinbgn (talk · contribs) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons
Cobar mining
By Axel Strauß [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

The new Cobar open cut mine

The history of the town has all to do with water. In an attempt to find a reliable water supply for stock, in 1870 a group of bore contractors being lead by Aboriginal trackers were shown a water hole north east of the area that became the town.  The water found there was not a spring but a water collection spot from the rains. Analysis of the water however found that it contained copper and a mining claim was lodged. A year later a cart load of ore was sent to Adelaide and it was found the ore was one third copper – the largest deposit of the mineral in Australia.


In 1878 the Great Cobar Copper Mining Company Limited was formed and copper ore was being mined and hasn’t stopped in over 140 years. The mining brought wealth to the town and it has many fine 19th century public buildings, as well as the remains of historic mud miner huts and old mining equipment can be found too.

Cobar Main Street 002
By Mattinbgn (talk · contribs) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

The problem of an adequate water supplied continued until the railway line was established in 1894 and water was supplied regular by train. The railway brought more mining activity and miners as well and at its peak around the turn of the century the population had soared to 10,000 and the township had its own stock exchange dealing in mining shares.By the 1920’s not only copper was being found in the ores but gold, zinc, silver and lead as well.The major mine however caught fire, a fire which lasted underground for some 16 years and closed.The towns declined and so did the population.

Some 40 years later mineral exploration resulted in new deposits being found began a revival in the towns fortunes in the 1960’s and massive mining efforts are ongoing.

Today the ever important water arrives to the town by a 110 kilometer pipe from a local river and huge water reservoirs overlook the town.

The name comes from the local aboriginal language for ‘copper,’ meaning ‘red earth’ or ‘burnt earth’ – the ochre color used for body paint during Corroborees.

Cobar Stele 002
By Mattinbgn (talk · contribs) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

In commemoration of the discovery of copper in  the region.

Cobar Giant Sign 002
By Mattinbgn (talk · contribs) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

The big Cobar sign that announces the town to those arriving.