Old Errowanbang Woolshed | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Old Errowanbang Woolshed

Item details

Name of item: Old Errowanbang Woolshed
Other name/s: Errowanbang Woolshed
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Farming and Grazing
Category: Woolshed/Shearing Shed
Location: Lat: -33.5421106167 Long: 149.0338412380
Primary address: Errowan Park, Old Errowanbang Lane, Errowanbang, NSW 2799
Parish: Blake
County: Bathurst
Local govt. area: Blayney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Orange
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT51 DP 39600
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Errowan Park, Old Errowanbang LaneErrowanbangBlayneyBlakeBathurstPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated

Statement of significance:

Errowanbang Woolshed is one of the most interesting woolsheds of the Central West region of New South Wales. It is perhaps unique in Australia in being built over four levels creating a complex but highly functional structure where each stage of the shearing and sorting process from penning the sheep to sorting, baling and storing has its own distinctive space.

With 40 stands, Errowanbang Woolshed is one of the largest woolsheds in the region. Of these stands, 26 have never been adapted for mechanical shearing, providing clear evidence of two major phases of shearing practices in Australia. The original stands retain virtually all of their original fabric providing a clear picture of the working of hand shearing. Names painted on the stands provide evidence of some of the well known shearers who worked at the station in the nineteenth century.

Designed by Watts, and one of a number of woolsheds designed by architects in the late nineteenth century, the quality of workmanship in the construction of Errowanbang Woolshed is probably unsurpassed in Australia. The massive stone piers supporting the trusses over the sorting area have contributed to the long term stability of the shed. Internally, details such as the stop chamfers on all corners of timberwork where wool is being moved, good quality hardware and mitred corners of timber flooring show an unusually high attention to detail in what would elsewhere be a utilitarian building.

The penning wings of the shed are unusual in including a plunge dip and draughting yards. The incorporation of a plunge dip within the woolshed is possibly unique.

Remnant pipes near the shed provide evidence of an unfulfilled attempt at using hydraulic machinery for shearing. They are the clearest surviving evidence of the very ambitious water races which once operated from Flyers Creek to Errowanbang.
(Hubert 2003)
Date significance updated: 01 Feb 18
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: Watt
Construction years: 1886-1886
Physical description: Errowanbang woolshed is one of the largest woolsheds in the Central West. Built on the side of a hill, the shed has a unique plan based on four long wings linked in the centre by the main shearing floor. The shearing floor and the wool sorting, baling and storage areas cover four levels.

Two wings of the shed are for penning sheep, one including a plunge dip and the other draughting yards. Adjacent to the plunge dip are the crooks etc for controlling the sheep in the dip. The remaining two wings are divided along their length with one side for sheep waiting to be shorn and the other side of the division being the 40 shearing stands, 20 for each wing. The shearing stands open to a large sorting area, designed to be largely column free by the use of timber trusses supported on massive stone piers. The piers are clad in timber boarding on the shearing floor to avoid wool being caught on the timber. The stands are arranged so that the gun shearers worked in the centre of the space, closest to the sorting area with the slower shearers at the ends of the floor, where the distance for runners and sweepers collecting the wool to bring to the sorting area was the greatest.

The sorting area is symmetrical about a diagonal axis. Three classing chutes are either side of the axis and feed wool to the baling level below. A floor above the baling area, the piece picking room is accessed from stairs behind the classing bins and has a chute which led to the main wool press. Tailings and other scraps could then be fed to the press from above.

Chutes for the shorn sheep lead from the shearing area to underneath the shed and assist in bracing the structure. On the upper side of the chutes, the timber cladding has timber slats allowing sheep pushed against the ramp to have a foothold and not slip back. The original joinery for most of the stands survives, including the swing doors with their original hinges and the bracketed shelves. Next to the intersection of the two rows of shearing stands, a sliding door at low level provides access for the sheep dogs between the pens and the shearing floor. One end of the stands has been altered in the nineteenth century for mechanised shearing. The remaining 14 stands are still set up as they were for hand shearing.

The baling area has two levels, the upper level with divisions to catch the wool fed from the classing chutes above. At the centre and on the lower level was the wool press, now removed although the base is evident in the floor. From here, the bales could be moved to a storage area. A large opening at the end of the storage area originally had a flap which folded down to allow the bales to be taken out onto carts or trucks for transportation (Refer figure 1). This has been replaced with a sliding door.

The woolshed is built of cypress pine. The structure has stumps below floor level with timber posts and framing above. Wherever timber is likely to be in contact with wool, the timber is dressed and corners are chamfered. Additionally, the stone piers are faced with vertical timber boards in the shearing area and pens. The division for the shearing stands is clad with horizontal boarding. Large trusses with iron straps provide an open shearing and sorting area. Corrugated galvanised steel clads the walls and the roof. 6 over 6 pane double hung windows open to the shearing floor. Horizontal windows at high level on the walls open to the penning areas. At the walkways behind the sorting chutes, timber shutters opened as awnings to provide ventilation during shearing.

A small engine room has been built on the end of one of the shearing wings, closest to the mechanised stands. The pipework for the water race from Flyers Creek which was intended to power the shears survives close to this room.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The shed is in reasonable condition, considering that only a small area of it is now used. Restumping has been partially undertaken in the past but this work needs to be completed. Most windows have been broken, largely due to hailstorms. The roofing is generally in good order although repairs of guttering are needed, particularly valley and box gutters.
Date condition updated:25 Jul 03
Current use: shearing shed
Former use: shearing shed


Historical notes: Pre-European
Prior to European occupation of the district, the area between Bathurst and Cowra was the home of the Wiradjuri people.

Early Exploration
Following the crossing of the Blue Mountains in 1813 by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth, the surveyor George William Evans was sent to survey a road to the plains beyond. In 1815 he continued his work working southwest from the site of Bathurst through the areas now known as Charlotte Creek, Hobby’s Yards, Mount Macquarie, Lyndhurst and Gooloogong.

In July 1815, William Lawson was made Commandant of Bathurst

Errowanbang Station
Governor Darling opened the lands west of the Macquarie River for occupation in 1826. William Lawson the younger was allowed to occupy “land beyond the limits of location” and with his father established seven stations west of the Great Dividing Range. Amongst these was Errowan-bang in the parishes of Beaufort and Blake on Flyers Creek. A Church and School Estate was established to the east of Flyers Creek and Lawson the younger settled to the west of the creek also managing the Church and School Estate.

With the use of convict labour, Lawson the younger built a homestead on the property around 1827. The house was built of handmade bricks packed with cow hair and mud, stringybark shingles and cedar joinery. The cellar is thought to have also served as the pit for sawing timber during construction and later to house convicts.

A fruit orchard was established close to Flyers Creek where Lawson the younger also planted willows.

Lawson the younger built the first woolshed on Errowanbang, probably the first woolshed in the district. Built of bush timber with a high gable, it was 120 feet long and 40 feet wide and stood behind the homestead. It was destroyed by strong winds in 1967-8.

When the Church and School Estate was resumed in 1835, Lawson the younger acquired some of the land.

Mr Lomax was the next owner of the property. Details of when he purchased Errowanbang have not been researched. Little other information is known of this period, although he is believed to have added a kitchen wing to the homestead.

Errowanbang was sold to Francis Hopkins and Alexander Wilson c.1886.

Around the same time, the present woolshed was built. Designed by an architect named Watt, it is a massive building with four levels. Built of white cypress pine at a cost of £5,000, it is believed to incorporate 5 tons of nails and bolts. The shed was designed with 40 stands and could hold 3,000 sheep. Also shearing sheep from Panuara Station, Hopkins’ ambition was to shear 100,000 sheep in one season. The best achieved was an impressive 90,000.

Wilson left the partnership before 1900 and Hopkins became the sole owner of Errowanbang. The station was divided, Hopkins taking the eastern area of Flyers Creek and the name Errowanbang. To avoid confusion, the remaining part of the property containing the large c.1886 woolshed and the original homestead is generally now known as Old Errowanbang. Hopkins moved to Stokefield at Carcoar while he built a new home on the property. Hopkins continued to graze sheep and a small number of larger stock on his 19,750 acres until his death in 1916. Francis Hopkins’ son Rawdon inherited his father’s estate.

Much of the land which had been retained by Hopkins was resumed under the provisions of the Crown Land Consolidation Act of 1913 and Rawdon Hopkins was left with 5,568 acres. On his remaining land, Rawdon Hopkins ran his Corriedale Stud and built a new woolshed. This shed was burnt in 1928 and then rebuilt, incorporating much of the original structure.

Sales of the resumed land proved to be very successful. 13 allotments and a reserve of 3,000 acres had been created from 13,300 acres with the reserved land being set aside for building up small farmers near Burnt Yards. 1,000 acres were also held as a mining reserve. 392 applications were received of which 362 were admitted to a ballot.

The next owner of the western part of the original Errowanbang has not been properly researched, although around 1900 Charles Hebden moved into the original homestead. Hebden ran a thoroughbred blood horse stud as well as sheep and cattle on the property.

On Old Errowanbang, Hebden was responsible for the construction of a water race system running from the north-east corner on Flyers Creek through to Wire Gully mine. A branch at Triangle ran south to the woolshed where it was intended to power the shearing equipment. This did not happen and the water was used for filling dams and supplying the homestead. Another water race ran from the eastern side of Flyers Creek, near Hopkins new homestead, to the Junction Reefs Mines.

Around 1909, Hebden began to sell off some of his land including country in the Panuara area.

Hebden died on Errowanbang in 1915. By that time his property was known as Errowanbang Limited. Hebden’s nephew, Richard Officer, was the first manager and chief policy holder and managed the property until his death in 1930.

Richard Officer and his wife renovated the homestead, adding a new wing to the house to provide accommodation for a classroom, a room for a governess, an office and a dressing room. Bathrooms were also added and the ceilings of the original part renewed.

Errowanbang continued to run sheep, including a stud of Romney Marsh. Other stock included cattle and draught horses.

The water race continued to operate although it frequently silted up. Eventually rabbit holes caused too many problems and it fell into disuse.

After Richard Officer’s death, his brother Ernie took over the management for a short time until Bill McKay came with his wife and two children. The McKays remained at Errowanbang until 1940.

Ted Holland followed Bill McKay as manager until 1952 when this part of the property was resumed and opened for Soldier Settlements in 1952. A ballot was held for the 11 available blocks with J.W. Harries taking the homestead block.

The homestead and outbuildings were used for the accommodation of some of the families and for builders working on new houses for the settlers. Some of the buildings around the homestead were purchased by settlers and (presumably) relocated. These included
- the overseer’s cottage which was erected on John Moore’s property
- the cook house used as part of a woolshed by George Simons
- the shearers’ huts which were used for material for Frank Press’s house
- the showers from the shearer’s quarters were purchased by Gordon Adamson.
Old Errownbang remains in the ownership of the Harries family.

William Lawson (1774-1850)
William Lawson was born on 2 June 1774 near London and was educated in London, becoming a surveyor. On June 15, 1799 he paid £300 for his commission in the New South Wales Corps arriving in Port Jackson in 1800 before being sent to serve at Norfolk Island. On his return to Sydney in 1806 he was promoted to a Lieutenant.

After serving as aide-de-camp to Major George Johnston, commandant at Newcastle then in Governor Macquarie’s Veteran Corps, Lawson retired to his grant at Prospect. In 1813 he joined the expedition across the Blue Mountains with Blaxland and Wentworth.

Lawson returned to service in 1819 as Commandant of the settlement of Bathurst from where he spent time surveying the district, resigning from the post in 1824. During his explorations he discovered coal near Mount York, copper north of Bathurst and silver in the western country.

Acquiring large areas of land west of the Great Dividing Range, Lawson became an important landholder as well as one of the 12 largest stockowners in the Bathurst district carrying sheep, cattle and horses.

In 1843 Lawson became one of the first elected members of the Legislative Council after successfully standing for the seat of Cumberland.

Lawson married Sarah Leadbeater with whom he had 11 children, four of who died in infancy. Sarah died in 1830 aged 48 and was buried at their Prospect property, Veteran Hall. Her remains were later transferred to the Lawson vault at St Bartholomew’s Church at Prospect.

William Lawson died on June 16 1850 at Prospect.

William Lawson the younger (1804-1861)
William Lawson’s second son (also called William) was born at Norfolk Island in 1804. After accompanying his father to Bathurst, he became the first native born white Australian to receive a grant of land for sheep grazing in the Western Country.

In 1836, William Lawson the younger was appointed a magistrate and was a member of the Bathurst bench until 1852.

Allowed to occupy lands “beyond the limits of location” he established and managed, with his father, seven pioneering stations including Errowan-bang on Flyers Creek.

In 1832 he married Caroline Icely, sister of Thomas Icely of the nearby Coombing Park with whom he had ten children. After the death of his father, William Lawson the younger moved to Veteran Hall, Prospect where he died in 1861. Caroline died in 1875

Francis Rawdon Chesney Hopkins
Francis Hopkins was born at Coolah Point near Bombay in the East Indies in 1848, the son of a naval captain. He was sent to live with his uncle General Rawdon Chesney in Ireland. At the age of 16 he came to Australia to live with another uncle, Sir Samuel Wilson, a pastoralist in Victoria. Eventually he came to manage Peracoota Station in the Riverina district where he married Sarah Jane Kennedy. Meanwhile he had entered into partnerships with Messrs Robertson and Wagner, the owners of Peracoota, sharing properties in Queensland. Leaving Peracoota at the age of 38, he sold his Queensland interests and went into partnership with Alexander Wilson to own Errowanbang. The partnership was dissolved soon after leaving Hopkins as the sole owner.

Wilson was the Managing Director of Australian Estates at the time of the purchase and with Hopkins also had interests in gold and copper mining at Blayney. Hopkins later had interests in the Wire Gully gold mine.

Hopkins was a founding member of the Pastoralists Union in New South Wales. He was well known for his substantial efforts for the Rabbit Board and the Pastures Protection Board, serving for many years as chairman and director of the Carcoar Branch.

Other bodies which Hopkins was involved in include the Montenegrin Fund, Allied Day Committee and the French Australian League.

As well as running Errowanbang, Hopkins was a keen writer, preparing a number of plays which were successful in Australia, Canada and the United States. He also wrote verse and a number of books.

Hopkins died after falling down an old shaft on the property on 20 July 1916. It is thought that he was trying to make the shaft safe, having lost a number of sheep to insecure shafts. He was survived by his wife Sarah who died in 1942 and his son Rawdon Chesney Hopkins who died in 1973.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. Wiradjuri Nation - working for pastoralists-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Woolgrowing-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences Technologies of wool processing-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences Technologies of vernacular and traditional building-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working on pastoral stations-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Mr Watt, architect-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Old Errowanbang Woolshed is historically significant for its associations with the pastoral and woolgrowing industry of colonial and 20th century NSW, especially the central tablelands, and for the evidence it demonstrates of the significant, and evolving, processes of gathering and processing wool for clothing and other manufactured products.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Old Errowanbang Woolshed is significant for its associations with the architect Watts and the small but important group of architects who designed woolsheds in the late 19th century.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Old Errowanbang Woolshed is of state significance for the technical innovations evident in its four-level design and the internal arrangement of pens and shearing spaces related to the speed of individual sheaers; is aesthetically distinctive as a large timber building of cypress pine with multiple stories on massive stone piers, stop-chamfered posts, mitred timber flooring and high quality hardware throughout the interior, and has landmark qualities as a rambling building that steps down the hillside in its countryside setting in the Flyers Creek valley.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Old Errownbang Woolshed has important associations with several generations of shearers, many of whom have their individual names painted on various pens; and contributes to the rural identity of the inhabitants of the Errowanbang area.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Old Errowanbang Woolshed is of state significance as a benchmark of the changing technologies of sheep shearing, with 26 hand-shearing pens and 14 later adapted to mechanical shearing, the only known internal plunge dip in the region (related to the weather conditions of the Tablelands), and the nearby water races associated with an attempt to develop hydraulic shearing equipment.
SHR Criteria f)
Old Errowanbang Woolshed is rare in the region and state as the only known example of its type (an architect-designed, multi-storied sheep shearing complex that could process the sheep almost entirely under cover) and for the exceptional interest of its design and construction detailing.
SHR Criteria g)
Old Errowanbang Woolshed demonstrates the principle characteristics of sheep shearing establishments in rural NSW built in the 1880s and successively adapted to changing shearing technologies.
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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0174823 Jun 06 824723
Potential Heritage ItemA 16 Jan 02   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blayney Heritage Study19911.4Perumal Murphy Pty. Ltd.  No
Central West Pilot Program SHRP2001 Heritage Office SHRP  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Writtenanon.1978Errowanbang Anniversary Celebration

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5052591
File number: H03/00211, 10/06469

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