Cobar Railway Station Group | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Cobar Railway Station Group

Item details

Name of item: Cobar Railway Station Group
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Railway Parade South, Nyngan-cobar Line, Cobar, NSW 2835
Local govt. area: Cobar


The listing boundary is formed by the property boundary on either side of the platform in a line crossing the tracks 50 metres to either end of the platform.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Railway Parade South, Nyngan-cobar LineCobarCobar  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The site is evidence of the commercial development of Cobar and the construction of the Nyngan to Cobar Railway line, completed in 1892. Passenger services ceased c.1976. The Cobar Railway Station Group is associated with Public Works Department - Railways Branch that designed the buildings and infrastructure and they are good examples of their type. The form, modest scale and detailing of the station are evidence of railway architecture of the period consistent with Cobar's status. The turntable is evidence of 19th century railway and engineering technology manufactured by William Sellers & Co of Philadelphia and warrants investigation. The site is valued by the Cobar community as evidence of its economic history and progress.

The site is rare in western NSW and due to discontinuation of the passenger services the future of the site is at risk. The rarity of the turntable with components manufactured by William Sellers & Co warrants further investigation. Cobar Station is in good condition and represents the peak period of railway construction at a remote location serving the mining activity in the area, a role still played today. It is an important civic building and part of the State's railway history.
Date significance updated: 14 Nov 06
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Public Works Department - Railways Branch
Physical description: Cobar Railway Station Group is located to the north of the town, at the northern end of Linsley Street. The group consists of:

1 The main railway station and platform,
2 A loading bank, and
3 The remains of a turntable.

1 The main railway station building and platform
Cobar Railway Station is a Type 4 standard roadside third class brick structure. It consists of two buildings, the main station and a detached single storey structure to the west.

The main station building is a single storey gabled structure of painted brick. To the east is a single-storey gabled addition with a gablet vent. The latter structure may once have been detached but has since been joined to the station.

The south façade of the main building is covered by a hipped verandah with decorative lattice ironwork and metal decorative posts. Window openings are single paned double hung sash with rendered sills and heads. Similar openings are located to the north. The north façade is covered by a deep skillion awning supported by decorative brackets. There are two door openings, also with rendered heads, which open onto a wooden platform.

Two chimneys of painted brick with rendered detailing protrude from the gabled roofline of the station. The gables are decorated with bargeboards and finials. Two small pointed vents are located in the gable wall.

To the west is the single storey box-in-plan detached building. It has similar details as the main station including double hung sash windows with rendered sills and heads, although two openings to the north have been infilled. Similarly the roof is gabled with decorative bargeboards and finials and gabled vents. The building is in use by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.

2 A loading bank
Just east of the station is the loading bank. It consists of the old rail line, stop, raised earthen and gravelled bank and other former workings.

3 The remains of a turntable.
To the east of the station and north of the main railway line is the turn table. A side branch of the main line leads to the table which is still marked by the sign "Notice to avoid fracture drivers must run onto this table at very slow speed by order". The turning track bears the manufacturer's mark, "West Cumberland Street 1884 NSWC" and "Cammel toughened steel 10 MO 1887 PNSWG" while the under workings reading "William Sellers & Co Philadelphia 50H".

The railway station is no longer in use. The line is in use by goods trains but not passenger transport.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:05 Jun 06


Historical notes: The line to Cobar was fully completed on 25 April 1892 with the total cost estimated at £276,952 [Bourke & District Historical Society 1977 Vol 6: 212]. Contractors, Messrs. R. Turnell and R. Barber, continued to work on the station buildings. The construction of the western railway line reached Dubbo in 1881. Extension of the line as near as possible to Cobar was of great advantage to the growing copper mining industry in Cobar, especially the Great Cobar Copper Mining Company. Both the mining company and the Government offered financial incentives for the line to Warren Road (Nevertire, just west of Dubbo) to be completed on time [Cobar Copper Centenary Celebrations Committee 1969: 52]. The construction of the line to Cobar meant that coal to fuel the smelters could be transported from Dubbo, rather than continuing to use locally cut timber which was less efficient [Burgess 2006: 151].

In the 1880s a Railway League was formed in Cobar to lobby the Government of the day for the rail-link to Nyngan. The urgency was intensified by a downturn in work at the Great Cobar, due to cost-cutting measures. Their representations emphasised that labour in the area was plentiful due to high unemployment and that no bridges would have to be built, lowering engineering costs. On 9 October 1886 the Cobar community celebrated the passing of the Nyngan to Cobar Railway Bill [Burgess 2006: 152].

In 1890 Messrs Smith and Finlayson won the tender for the construction of the Nyngan to Cobar line and Mr Weeks was to supply the engine tanks and construct the brick towers [Burgess 2006: 173]. In October 1891 the line reached Bill Budd’s Gap Inn Hotel at Florida, with another 30 miles (48 kms) to go until it reached Cobar. Small business people of the region welcomed the anticipated increase in trade. Hugh Sutherland who operated a steam saw-mill and planing plant moved his businesses as close as possible to the line. As soon as it was complete engines commenced operation to the head of the line. Both freight and passengers were able to join the service from Mount Bobby (later renamed Mount Boppy) [Burgess 2006: 173].

Railway construction provided increased local employment opportunities. Approximately 700 men worked on the line and in associated gravel pits. The men lived in makeshift huts along the line. Small businesses in close proximity to the line profited from trade with the railway labourers. By January 1892 the line passed Meryula and was about 8 miles (13 kms) from Cobar [Burgess 2006: 173].

The railway reached Cobar in 1891 and on 31 January 1892 with much excitement the Cobar community awaited a visit from the Governor, The Right Honourable Victor Albert George, Earl of Jersey, and a Vice Regal party. They were met at the Courthouse by the Mayor, Aldermen and other community members [Burgess 2006: 173].

Infrastructure at Cobar Railway Station included brick, iron roofed passenger facilities incorporating a waiting room, ticket and parcel office and ladies’ waiting room. There was also a yard shed, lamp room and station master’s residence. The passenger platform had verandahs on both frontages. Other structures included an engine pit, tank and a pumping house to replenish the locomotives with water from the Government Reservoir. There was a coal stage, 60 ft (18.28 m) diameter engine turntable, large carriage shed, a wool-loading bank and goods shed [Burgess 2006: 176]. Today the Cobar Railway Station building is unused and in poor condition [Pers Comm. Cobar Historical Society 29 Sep 2006].

The Nyngan-Cobar Line was officially opened on 16 July 1892. Access to rail transport was advantageous for both the public, who were now less isolated, and commercial enterprises. Rail provided faster mail delivery and a reliable form of transport, thus lowering freight costs for the mines and raising profits. It was also profitable for the railways and in 1910 ‘the Cobar Line was the largest country revenue-earning line and the fifth largest revenue-earning line in NSW’ [Cobar Copper Centenary Celebrations Committee 1969: 52-3].

The line between Dubbo and Cobar was soon up-graded to stand up to the weight of the heavy ore trains and the high traffic. The conversion from steam power to diesel locomotives provided further efficiencies.

In drought times, prior to the provision of a permanent water supply at Cobar, the railway was an important life-line for the community. The trains were used to haul water tanks, or ‘water gins’ as they were known, which had been filled at Nyngan. At the goods yard the water would be discharged from the tanks and then pumped into a tank on the hill on the western side of the town. The trains became known as the Cobar Gin Trains and deliveries would sometimes be needed at least once per day. Extra water was sometimes needed when the extinguishing of a fire in the town used all their reserves [Cobar Copper Centenary Celebrations Committee 1969: 53].

In the 1920s at the instigation of Reverend Stanley Drummond the railway played an important role in the provision of baby and child health care services in western NSW. In a visit to Cobar in 1924 Drummond observed that mine closures had resulted in widespread poverty with associated health problems. Many rural families had minimal access to health-care due lack of money or proximity to treatment centres. The Far West Children’s Health Scheme began operating c.1930 with one railway carriage set up as a Travelling Baby Clinic running on the Nyngan to Cobar line (travelling also to Bourke and Brewarrina). The carriage was dropped off at a siding and later collected by another train to be taken to the next station. The service was so successful that the NSW Government Railways converted another two railway cars for this purpose [Bromby 2004: 117, 119].

In the mid 20th century the Shire was serviced by the Far West Express, running from Dubbo to Cobar, an extension of the Central West Express that operated from Sydney to Orange [Bromby 2004: 92]. The line west from Cobar is privately owned and continues to the CSA and Elura mines. Rail traffic today consists of ore from the mines and wheat from depots further east along the line [ 19 Jun 2006].

A summary of research carried out by Rolfe Bozier [] providing details of stations, platforms and other rail infrastructure in the Cobar Shire, as well as dates of their opening or closure, is listed in the Cobar Thematic History [ 19 Jun 2006].

One of the manufacturer's mark on the turntable indicates that it was produced by William Sellers & Co a prominent American firm of ironworkers owned by William Sellers a noted inventor. William Sellers (1824-1905) set up his own machine shop in America in 1847. A year later he was joined by Edward Bancroft as Bancroft & Sellers. Upon Bancroft's death in 1855, the firm was reorganized as William Sellers & Co. The Sellers firm was one of the foremost American machine shops. Sellers obtained over 90 patents, covering machine tools, including the spiral geared planer, rifling machines, and injectors for steam locomotives and boilers. The Sellers firm was incorporated in 1886. It continued to function until April 9, 1947, when the machine tool division was sold to the Consolidated Machine Tool Corporation and relocated to Rochester, N.Y. It is not known if other railway infrastructure made by William Sellers & Co survives in Australia.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Railway-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site is evidence of the commercial development of Cobar and the completion of the Nyngan to Cobar Railway line in 1892, providing passenger and freight transport. The railway was also used to transport water, and carriages were fitted out to bring health care services to remote areas in western NSW. Passenger services ceased c.1976 however freight services for the mines continue.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Cobar Railway Station Group is associated with Public Works Department - Railways Branch that designed the buildings and infrastructure. The turntable is linked to William Sellers & Co of Philadelphia, an important engineering firm and manufacturer of iron work in the mid to late 19th century.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The form, modest scale and detailing of the station are evidence of Public Works Department - Railways Branch architecture of the period, consistent with Cobar's status as an important mining town. The buildings have sustained minor alterations. The turntable is evidence of 19th century railway and engineering technology and of components manufactured by William Sellers & Co of Philadelphia.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The site is valued by the Cobar community as evidence of its economic history and progress stimulated by the construction of the railway in the late 19th century.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The site, in particular the turntable, has the potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of railway engineering and technology in the late 19th century.
SHR Criteria f)
The site, including the buildings and railawy infrastructure, is a rare example of its ype in western NSW and due to discontinuation of the passenger services the future of the site is at risk. The rarity of the turntable with components manufactured by William Sellers & Co warrants further investigation.
SHR Criteria g)
The Cobar Railway Station buildings are important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of Public Works Department - Railways Branch architecture and planning.
Integrity/Intactness: Satisfactory, with need for maintenance.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

A CMP should be prepared to guide all future management and maintenance of this item. This should be undertaken prior to any proposed alterations, additions or changes. A Statement of Heritage Impact should be prepared to assess the impact of any such proposals on the significance of the site. If the CMP has not been prepared at the time of such proposed changes it should be prepared prior to the SHI. The SHI should take into account the CMP and any relevant recommendations. The CMP/SHI should also include an archaeological assessment. The archaeological assessment should assess the impact of the proposal on any archaeological remains, to ensure that the proposal does not adversely impact upon the site's significance.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSchedule 1 01 Jun 01 933121
Heritage studyCobar Railway Station Group135010703 Jun 06   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
National Trust Country Register  National Trust of Australia (NSW)  No
State Rail Authority Section 170 Register1997SRA349State Rail Authority  No
Cobar Heritage Study20061350107Comber Consultants Pty LtdCathy Fisher Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1977History of Bourke, Vol 6
Written Rolfe Bozier2006Nyngan-Cobar Line
WrittenBromby2004The Railway Age in Australia
WrittenCobar Copper Centenary Celebrations Committee1969Cobar Copper Centenary 1869-1969
Oral HistoryCobar Historical Society 29 Sep 2006  
WrittenNational Trust of Australia (NSW) National Trust of Australia (NSW)
WrittenNeville Burgess2006The Great Cobar
WrittenThe Lemelson Centre for the Study of Invention and Innovation2006William Sellers & Company Inc. 1827-1947

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1350107

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