Dubbo truly is a regional city with it all.
The city of Dubbo is special in a great many ways. It boasts a rich history filled with fascinating anecdotes and famous locals spanning the realms of entertainment, law and order, and the criminal underworld. A city of surprises and intrigue, there’s much more to Dubbo than meets the eye.
THE OLDEST SLAB HOUSE IN AUSTRALIA
Dubbo is home to Australia’s oldest standing slab house, Dundullimal Homestead. Charming and rustic, this National Trust property was built in the 1840s and was once the head station of a 6500 hectare squatting run. The remarkable interior includes an imposing sitting room with a ‘tent’ shaped ceiling and a master bedroom boasting an iron bed and a campaign chest. Dundullimal Homestead is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday.
FIRST ABORIGINAL POLICEMAN
Alec Riley was the first Aboriginal police tracker to reach the rank of sergeant and to receive the King’s Medal. Born in 1884 and dying in 1970, Alec was a stationhand who joined the NSW Police Force as a tracker in 1911 before being promoted to sergeant in 1941. The Tracker Riley Cycleway in Dubbo is named after him.
LARGEST COLLECTION OF HANGMAN’S ROPES
The heritage-listed Old Dubbo Gaol was operational between 1847 and 1966, and reopened as a tourist attraction in 1974. The gaol hosts the largest collection of hangman’s ropes in NSW, as well as numerous original prison artefacts and punishment instruments, animatronics displays and the exciting Spectravision holographic display recounting the life of ‘Nosey Bob’, the NSW executioner.
ROBBERY UNDER ARMS
Thomas Alexander Browne is the author of what is considered one of the first ‘truly great quintessential Australian novels’, Robbery Under Arms. Writing under the pen-name Rolf Boldrewood, Browne was Dubbo’s Police Magistrate from 1881-1884. Robbery Under Arms was first published as a serial in the Sydney Mail from July 1882, and later dramatised, filmed and published in many editions. The story is written in the first person, and tells the life story of death row inmate Dick Marston and his association with notorious bushranger Captain Starlight.
AUSTRALIA’S FUNNIEST WRITER
According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Leonard Waldemere Lower, or Lennie as he was known, was probably born in 1903. The humourist and newspaper columnist was for many years acclaimed as one of Australia’s funniest writers, and his one novel, “Here's Luck” (1930), became a classic of Australian humour.
TOUGH UNDERWORLD FIGURES
Catherine Mary Josephine Leigh, better known as Kate, was born in Dubbo. Along with her arch rival Tilly Devine, they later became known as two of the toughest gangsters in Sydney. Their battle to become the ‘Queen’ of the Sydney underworld fuelled the razor gang wars of Darlinghurst, which lasted from 1927 to 1930. To separate these two, the Courts sent Kate back to Dubbo for two years. At this time she opened ‘Flash Kate’s Casino and Brothel’, now the site of the Milestone Hotel.
THE LAST AUSTRALIAN HANGINGS
On 19 February 1951, Jean Lee, born in Dubbo, became the last female hanged in Australia. In 1958, Raymond John Bailey, also born and raised in Dubbo, was the second-last person to be hanged in South Australia.