Cobar is a brilliant town. True, it’s in the middle of nowhere in country NSW – but if you can get past the isolation, this really is one of the most welcoming, family-friendly places in Australia.
There are great facilities for kids: a swimming pool with water slide; a family park with three age-appropriate play areas; heaps of community and family events and sports clubs that are always on the look-out for new members. The centre of town is no more than 15 minutes’ walk from every house, so you can easily stroll into the shops, cafes and hotels.
Although Cobar is also a service town for outlying farms, many of its 5500 residents are associated with the mines. That means that most people have been newcomers at some stage, so they’re keen to meet new people and socialise and have fun.
When things get a little repetitive, you can head to Dubbo for the weekend. It’s a solid, 300km drive, but it’s got a cinema, many big stores and the Western Plains Zoo is a must for the kids.
Now for some stats: Cobar Shire is situated near the centre of NSW (710km from Sydney). At the crossroads of the Barrier Highway and the Kidman Way, it has excellent road, rail and air links to most of Australia's capital cities. The shire is 44,065 square kilometres big – or about the size of Tasmania! Its prosperity centres on mining (copper, lead, silver, zinc, gold) and the pastoral industry.
Two quirky tit-bits that attract tourists from far and wide: Cobar’s Great Western Hotel is home to the longest iron lace veranda in the southern hemisphere; and the biggest beer can in Australia adorns the roof of the Grand Hotel. The can is five metres high, 2.5m wide and holds 22,000 litres. Another of Cobar’s most visited attractions is the Commonwealth Weather Station, one of nine fully automated stations in Australia.
Mining companies in the town include New Gold (operating the The Peak Gold Mine); CBH Resources (operating the Endeavour Mine); and CSA Mine, an underground copper mine which is operated by Cobar Management Pty Ltd and employs around 300 people.
There’s a community hospital and medical centre. Although there are currently no facilities to give birth in Cobar, there’s a great community midwife who offers exceptional care on your return.
There’s also a mobile playgroup which provides educational play sessions for children 0-6 years, both in town and on surrounding pastoral stations.
"Cobar is a family orientated community where everybody looks out for each other. I spent 3 wonderful years in Cobar and established life-long friendships. It was extremely social whether you were catching up for dinner or a coffee, playing sport, or simply out doing the shopping. Cobar is in easy driving distance to larger towns and to some great national parks so I never felt particularly isolated. I spent many a weekend during summer at the local pool which was just beautiful."
- Dee, now living in Brisbane
"We have great memories of Cobar. It’s a really great place for a young family, with so many day-time activities for small children you'll have a hard time fitting them all in. Pretty limited shopping but the basics are there, and the internet can easily solve any shopping dilemmas these days. Good family pubs for a casual counter-meal, and a cinema (when it’s open). Because it’s got more than one mine, the people you work with aren’t always the people you socialise and played sport with. It has an excellent netball competition on Saturdays and there’s nowhere you can’t walk with a pram. Cobar has a magnificent pool with the fastest water slide we’ve ever come across (and hardly ever busy). It’s a great place to spend the hot months with the kids, then scoot home at 4.30 to quickly put on some dinner for Dad before he arrives home on the work bus at 5.05 on the dot. One thing is that I had to travel to Melbourne to have my baby. Other than that, it’s great.”
- Kathryn, now living in Kalgoorlie