Cobar is situated about 700km north-west of Sydney, and the name of the town is said to be a corruption of the Aboriginal word for ochre or copper.
You can't miss the huge old 'Cobar' sign at the entrance to the town. This area has a vibrant history of pioneering agriculture and copper mining, through to the gold mining carried out today. If travelling by private vehicle, keep a watch for cattle, goats and roos on the road, and don't carry any fruit or vegetables into the FFEZ (Fruit Fly Exclusion Zone) to the south.
Here are five things to do in Cobar:
1. Visit the Great Cobar Heritage Centre (and Visitors Centre). This heritage building (c1910) used to be the administration building for the Great Cobar Copper Mine. It showcases life in Cobar back as far as 1869, both indigenous and pioneering, and is one of the best presented and interesting collections of mining and agricultural historical relics we have visited. It is open every day.
2. See the colourful reflections in the 'open cut' lake, formed by the rising water table: these offer wonderful photographic opportunities. Think of the men who dug this massive hole over a hundred years ago with picks and shovels.
3. Do the Cobar Heritage Walk with a brochure from the Heritage Centre. See points of interest around town, Victorian and Edwardian buildings and miners' cottages. It took us a bit over an hour, as we like to stop and think about the lives of the folk who lived in the old days, and how tough and resilient they were. Take the opportunity to support the local shops.
4. Visit the Miners Heritage Park built to commemorate the miners who lost their lives in the Cobar area. There are well restored pieces of mining equipment and a bigger than life sized sculpture of a Cobar miner.
5. Drive a few kilometres east of Cobar to the Fort Bourke Hill Lookout and the New Cobar Open Cut Gold Mine. There is an excellent viewing platform that overlooks the massive open pit and see the huge trucks that look like Tonka toys as they enter the underground section of the mine. There is a superb view of the surrounding country from the lookout, and it is a great place to visit at sunset.