A brief history of Carcoar
The village of Carcoar was first surveyed in 1838 and gazetted in 1839 at the request of Sir Thomas Icely who had a large holding called Coombing Park and Stoke. He envisaged that it would be a centre to supply services and law and order - something which the new settlement sorely needed. At the time, Carcoar had a real “Wild West” history. For instance, in 1863, members of Ben Hall’s bushranging gang attempted Australia’s first daylight bank robbery in Carcoar. The two members of the gang fronted the teller of the old Commercial Bank and demanded all of the money in the bank.The clerk produced a pistol, took a shot at them and the pair fled.
On a separate occasion Ben Hall held up the local Presbyterian minister, James Adam, but decided not to rob him because he seemed such a nice bloke. The worst crime at Carcoar was undoubtedly the axe murder in September 1893 of City Bank manager John Phillips and a young female friend of his wife, Frances Cavanagh, by the son of one of the wealthiest pastoralists in the district. The Carcoar community didn’t recover from the shame of these gruesome murders for many years.
Carcoar seemed destined to become a major economic centre. Its main income base was agriculture, but minerals soon began to add to the wealth of the district. Gold was discovered nearby in the 1850s and businesses in Carcoar were established to cater for the population increase. Cobb & Co. also established at Coombing Park and during the era of horse drawn travel Carcoar became a convenient overnight stay - equidistant from Bathurst, Orange and Cowra. However the town’s fortunes began to decline in the 1880s when the main railway bypassed Carcoar in favour of Blayney. Today, even the Mid Western Highway bypasses the town and Carcoar has become a quiet village with much to offer tourists who are interested in Australian history.