Oberon Museum Sign

1. History of Oberon

In 1813 explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth found a way across the Blue Mountains to the western plains. Prior to that, Indigenous tribes of Daruk and Wiradjuri roamed the O'Connell, Bathurst and Macquarie plains whilst further to the south and east roamed the Gundangarra tribes. Settlers from the plains brought their stock to the greener high country around the Oberon district in drought periods. The lush countryside attracted settlers and grants of land began to be taken up along the Fish River and the Campbells River in the 1820s.

The early pioneers knew Oberon as Bullock Flat. Permanent settlement in the district began in 1839 but it was not until 1863 that the name was changed to Oberon (taken from the King of the Fairies in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream") and it was declared a village.

From a town population of 200 in the 1880s it grew to 2000 in 1980 and has been steadily growing ever since. Gold was discovered on the Fish River in 1823 and this gave the area a boost in population.

There have been many silver and copper mines in the district and the area is still well known for its sapphires and gemstones, which attract many fossickers.

The Oberon Council was formed at a public meeting in March 1906. Below you will find a history of Oberon Council, together with a Roll of Honour listing all Councillors and senior staff from 1906 - 2006. In 1927 the Memorial Hall was built by the citizens of Oberon and it was used as the Council Chambers until 1949 when the Council offices were moved to their present site and the Memorial Hall was extended and became the Oberon RSL Club.

In 1949 the first stage of the Fish River Water Supply known as Lake Oberon was completed and the building of this important water supply to Lithgow, Bathurst, Oberon, and parts of the Blue Mountains brought many workers and their families to the district. The project was completed in 1958.

The plentiful supply of hardwood in the district attracted the attention of the Broken Hill mines in 1938 and the timber was transported by rail to be milled at Broken Hill for pit props. As hardwood areas ran out they were replanted with Pinus Radiata by the Forestry Commission and this was the foundation of the timber industry in Oberon, which has further swelled the population. For almost 50 years peas and potatoes were important crops in the Oberon district and for many years fat lamb production was a major economic contributor. From about 1930 when planting of Radiata Pine began, the timber industry has become increasingly economically important. Oberon's proximity to Jenolan Caves, the Kanangra Boyd National Park, and its unique climate and spectacular scenery have contributed to the continuing growth of the town.

2. Our Heritage

Most early buildings in Oberon were built of pise, wattle and daub or slabs from local timber. Most have not survived. The convent on the corner of Queen and Fleming Streets was built in 1914 for the Sisters of St Joseph who had arrived in Oberon in 1912 to set up the first Roman Catholic school. It is still occupied by the Sisters.

Amongst Oberon's significant buildings are the National Australia Bank building, St Barnabas Anglican Church, built in 1869, Ramsgate, a two storey Victorian private residence built in 1906, and the Art Deco Malachi Gilmore Hall, built in 1937. These buildings are all located in Oberon Street.  At various stages in its history The Malachi Gilmore Hall has been a ballroom, a cinema, a cabaret venue, a skating rink, a craft shop and a wool store. It is one of the few surviving architecturally significant buildings of this period in Australia.

3. Oberon Township and Surrounding District

Oberon was proclaimed a village in 1863 and has grown to an estimated resident Local Government Area population of 5,580 (as at the 2021 Census), of whom 3,319 live in the township itself.

Oberon has good shopping facilities with most goods and services available in the town. It has a number of restaurants, cafes and takeaways while visitors staying in self catering accommodation are well serviced by supermarkets, butchers and bakeries. Shops selling clothing, accessories, fishing gear, gifts, books and collectables may also interest the visitor. Most professional and trades services are available in Oberon. Visitor accommodation ranges through hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, self contained cottages, farm-stay and caravan parks. There are also several camping grounds in the shire.

Prime lambs and beef cattle are the main rural industries. Brussel sprouts, broccoli, potatoes and peas have been the main horticultural industries, although there is some diversification in this area. Tree nurseries, nut tree plantations, bulb farms, new ventures and experimental enterprises such as truffles are emerging. Timber processing by BORG and Highland Pine is the major secondary industry, sourcing the raw material from large NSW Forestry Corporation Radiata Pine Plantations and those of private forest growers. More information about Oberon is available at the visitoberon.com website.