History of Forbes

Traditionally home to the Wiradjuri people, white settlement followed the explorations of John Oxley who travelled through the area in 1817. The population in the district boomed when gold was discovered in 1861. The fledgling diggings township was named Forbes, it is thought after Sir Francis Forbes, the first Chief Justice of New South Wales.

The gold rush brought an influx of some 30,000 people creating a massive tent city and leading to the development of the substantial hotels, churches, civic and other buildings which you can still see in Forbes today.

As gold rush fever hit some turned to a life of crime, including the infamous Ben Hall and the Gardiner Gang; noted amongst Australia's most famous bushrangers.

But by the end of the 1860s gold had become secondary to the pastoral and developing agricultural wealth of the district and Forbes began to transform into the rural community it is today.

Click here to download the Forbes History Book (PDF 133.1MB)