Evidence of habitation by Indigenous Australians in the Dubbo area dates back approximately 40,000 years.
John Oxley was the first European to report on the area now known as Dubbo in 1818. The first permanent settler in the area was Robert Dulhunty, described as one of the wealthiest citizens in the Australian colony at the time.
Dubbo has long been known as the 'hub of the west' because of its geographical location as a service centre for the Orana region - an area covering a quarter of New South Wales.
Dubbo really came into being because a young Frenchman had a sudden attack of appendicitis!
Jean Emile de Bouillon Serisier was struck down with appendicitis during a round-the-world voyage and was put ashore in Sydney. (It is interesting that the French spelling ‘cerisier’ means cherry tree. This is why the Dubbo Coat of Arms bears a cherry tree.)
In 1847, having travelled via Wellington, he eventually arrived in the Dubbo area to establish a trading post.
One of Dubbo's early magistrates was Thomas Alexander Browne who supported his large family by writing and it was at Dubbo that he penned Robber Under Arms using the pseudonym, Rolf Boldrewood. The novel was the most successful book published in Australia during the last century, earning Browne more than ten thousand pounds - a huge sum in those days.
The Commercial Hotel was the community’s second hostelry when built in 1859.
The Old Dubbo Gaolwith solid sandstone buildings and manicured lawns surrounded by foreboding walls are the nowadays tranquil setting for a building with a chilling past.
By the time the gaol closed in 1966, eight men had met their end on the gallows - re-erected and standing in the main yard. The gaol is thought to have been built in 1871.
A beautiful 1867 old bank building is located on Macquarie Street. A Permanent Conservation Order was placed over the building on 23 July, 1982 in recognition of it as an important item of the State environmental heritage and to ensure the protection of the building.
1865 saw the building from local sandstone of the Commercial Bank, the first Bank in Dubbo at 193 Macquarie Street. This building, by architect Hilley, was completed in 1867.
(Hilley designed the original 343 George Street Sydney C.B.C. Bank building built in the 1850s.)
The building represented a substantial vote of confidence in the future of Dubbo by the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited, the first Bank to open for business in Dubbo and the first to construct major premises in the town. (1st Manager was James Holmes who held the position for 35 years.)
For many years it was the towns finest building and the only bank until 1876.
The building is two storeys and has an extensive cellar. The original servants' quarters survive in the basement, as do the internal cedar staircase, the bank vault, the ironbark ceiling and lathe-and-plaster walls.
Among a score of churches is Holy Trinity. Although the foundation stone is dated 1875, work foundered through lack of money - but a second attempt a few years later was successful.
Jean Emile de Bouillon Serisier and Robert Venour Dulhunty are inextricably linked to Dubbo. Dubbo would have been established about 10 kilometres from its present location if pioneering settler Robert Venour Dulhunty had had his way. Dulhunty wanted the town on his property, Dubbo Station.
Serisier quickly realised there were great possibilities on the Macquarie River where a large north-south trade in cattle was developing. He went downstream to where Dubbo is now located and built a crude slab store on land
owned by George 'Dusty Bob' Smith - the first commercial venture in the area.
He petitioned for a site for a village. The area was surveyed by George Boyle White in 1848 and proclaimed a village on November 23 1849 with the first land sales taking place in 1850. Serisier bought town blocks at the first land auction in 1851.
Dulhunty wanted the village officially moved to his property but the surveyor would not agree.
Serisier built two more stores as Dubbo prospered and he went on to lay the foundations for a thriving commercial centre - a shopkeeper and postmaster, he became the first Justice of the Peace and lobbied for a court house and other public buildings. Serisier was also a farmer and vigneron bringing fame to early Dubbo by winning prizes for his wine in San Francisco.
Despite their differences, Dulhunty and Serisier played pivotal roles in the development of Dubbo and are remembered as founding fathers. A street, bridge and residential area are named in their honour.
Explorer John Oxley passed through the region during his 1817 and 1818 expeditions and noted the rich potential
for grazing and agriculture.
From 1824, the district was settled by squatters (the likes of George Thomas Palmer, John Wylde and convict George Smith) taking up land to set up large sheep and cattle stations along the Macquarie River - however these holdings were not maintained.
Robert Venour Dulhunty was one of the first people to take up land, originally on a squatting basis, but then as the first permanent settler in the area when he took out a licence on the property. He named his property 'Dubbo', which is said to be the Aboriginal Wiradjuri language meaning 'red earth' - which is consistent with the local landscape.
(There is some confusion over the name 'Dubbo'. It is also thought that Dubbo is a mispronunciation of the local Wiradjuri word 'Thubbo' which means 'head covering'.)
In 1828 explorer Charles Sturt was sent by the Governor of NSW to investigate the course of the Macquarie River
Styled in a restrained Italianate manner, the dressed sandstone facades of the building are almost severe, lightened only by round-headed window openings arranged in pairs on the Macquarie Street facade and in triad on the Bultje Street facade, string courses at first floor level and rusticated quoins. The iron roof is obscured by the substantial projecting cornice.
When the bank moved further north the building became the offices of Talbragar Shire Council (established in 1907), later it housed the Old Shire Gallery and today it is a restaurant.
Since 1984 the Heritage Council has granted approval for several minor alterations - including converting the ground floor into a restaurant and upper floor into offices and the demolition of the rear and erection of a new addition.
The most imposing is the Victorian Classical Court House with its massive columns and pediment. The Victorian Classical Court House is located in Brisbane Street and was built in 1847, designed by the Colonial Architect, James Barnet - it still retains its original court-room fittings.
Colonial buildings include the Italianate courthouse (1890), the Commercial Hotel (1885), the Lands Office (1897), St Brigid’s Catholic Church (1874), St Patrick’s Convent (1884) and the Macquarie Chambers (1884) with their Tuscan columns and terracotta tiles. Take the Heritage Walk and discover them all - Dubbo Visitors Centre,Cnr Newell Highway & Macquarie St. Ph 6801 4450