At the crossroads of the Barrier Highway and Kidman Way, you’ll find ‘The Copper City’, a fascinating town rich in mining heritage and natural attractions. Take some time to visit fascinating museums and colonial buildings, explore open-cut mines and marvel at ancient Aboriginal rock art.

Views over the vast Cobar Open Cut Mine from the Fort Bourke Hill Lookout

Mining history

In the late 1800s, the Great Cobar Copper Mine was Australia’s leading producer of copper, with more than 2,000 workers operating the huge smelters and its 64-metre chimney stack. Today, remains of the smelter foundations are visible from the hill near the Great Cobar Heritage Centre.

Set inside the mine’s imposing administration building built in 1910, the Heritage Centre takes you on a journey through Cobar’s history from the time of the local Aboriginal people to the mining and agricultural era. Marvel at historic artefacts and take a seat at the controls of a massive excavator.

Open cut quarry with the workings of the original Great Cobar Copper Mine at the Great Cobar Heritage Centre, Cobar

For incredible views of an open-cut mine and the town itself, head to the viewing platform at Fort Bourke Hill Lookout overlooking the New Cobar Gold Mine, Cobar's first gold mine. In summer, cool off with a dip at Great Cobar Open Cut, an old quarry and a popular swimming spot with locals.

Ancient Aboriginal rock art of emus painted in yellow ochre at the Mount Grenfell Historic Site near Nyngan

Things to do

At Mount Grenfell Historic Site, 70km from Cobar, an art site walk takes you through cypress pines to a rocky overhang adorned with ancient Aboriginal rock art. The site holds particular significance for the local indigenous people and contains Dreaming stories in red, yellow and ochre stencils.

Two storey redbrick building Cobar's grand  court house, one of the last designed by the Colonial Architect in Cobar, Outback NSWarched verandah

Follow the self-guided Cobar Heritage Walk to see the town’s historic buildings, including several from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, as well as early miners’ cottages. Then stop by the heritage-listed Great Western Hotel, a classic rural Australian corner pub with wide, shady verandahs and iron lacework.

The heritage-listed Cobar railway station located at the end of a branch line to serve the mining activity in the area.

Getting there & where to stay

It takes about eight hours to drive to Cobar from Sydney, seven hours from Canberra and nine hours from Melbourne. Alternatively, you can fly to Dubbo and hire a car for the three-hour drive. 4WD vehicles are recommended for unsealed roads and many of the national parks. There are a number of places to stay, such as motels and caravan parks.