An easy 1km walk that takes in the historic buildings and surrounds of Wollombi. A map is available at the Wollombi Museum. You can also enjoy a gentle walk that follows the Wollombi Brook, beginning at the Wollombi road west of cemetery (sign posted).
A Brief History of Wollombi
Wollombi is a small village in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia. It is within the Cessnock City Council LGA, situated 29 kilometers southwest of Cessnock and 128 km north of Sydney. To the south is the village of Laguna, to the east, the village of Millfield and to the north, the village of Broke. The valley is bordered to the west by the World Heritage listed Yengo National Park (and Yengo State Forest) and the main road, the convict-built Great North Road forms one of the major legs of the Greater Blue Mountains Drive. To the east lie Watagans National Park along with Corrabare and Olney State Forests. Wollombi’s modest modern size is offset by its 19th century sandstone buildings and timber slab constructed cottages and sheds in a narrow valley junction containing Wollombi Brook and Congewai Creek. Narone and Yango Creeks also join these waterways near the village. The area is home to an abundance of native birds, reptiles and other animals including kangaroos, wallabies, wallaroos and wombats and is surrounded by imposing tree-lined mountains.
The Wollombi Village Walk
- Start at The Obelisk- Starting point of the walk is the obelisk at the corner of Paynes Crossing Road and Wollombi Road opposite the Tavern.
- Wollombi Sale yards. Home of the Wollombi Village Markets.
- From the start of the Wollombi Village Walk head north along Paynes Crossing Road for approximately 200 meters, staying on the Tavern (west) side of the road, to the brass plaque mounted on the stone plinth after the sale-yard. Note; you will have passed the public toilet on the left hand side.
- Cunneens bridge. This bridge was built in 1896 under the supervision of Gordan Edgell, the roads engineer at the time. It was built on top of an old convict-built bridge, whose abutments are still evident, as is some of the convict-hewn stonework.
- Return to the village from Cunneens Bridge
- MacDougall Street stone plinth. After viewing Cunneens bridge, head south along Paynes Crossing Road for approximately 300 meters, staying on the east side, to the end of Negro Street. Here you will find a brass plaque mounted on a stone plinth giving details of one of the early pioneers of Wollombi. Look over to the right and you will see a sandstone church.
- St Johns Anglican Church. This church was designed by Edmund Blackett. The foundation stone was laid in 1846 and it was consecrated in 1849 by Bishop Tyrell. It was built in the pointed Gothic style and features stained glass windows which are memorials to past parishioners. From here, head east along Negro Street to the end and take the steps down to the Wollombi Brook. This is the Brook Walk.
- The Brook Walk. This walk is a combined Wollombi Valley Landcare and Tidy Towns project. It passes through a creek side reserve leased to the owners of the gardens and cottage on the high side of the walk. Path maintenance and native plantings undertaken by these lessees and the project partners assist in the bank stability and a specialist Landcare group is undertaking a long-term bush regeneration project. Continue for 200 meters along the Brook Walk to the end and turn right up the steps towards Wollombi Road. These stairs at the end were constructed with community funding to access a rock platform below where students could undertake Water Watch and scoop netting without bank erosion. Turn left at Wollombi Road and continue east for approximately 100 meters where you will see, on your left, a plaque mounted on a post and rail fence before the cemetery.
- Jane Pendergast Grave. This grave with headstone is of a lady who died in 1905 aged 73. She was not allowed to be buried in the cemetery, allegedly because she had a liaison with the local priest. She gave birth to a son who was tragically killed in a local accident in 1915. The headstone is tended by the owners of the private house on whose land she is buried. From here, continue east on Wollombi Road following the road around the millpond, staying on the path around the cemetery.
- Wollombi Anglican Cemetery. This cemetery was consecrated in 1849 by Bishop Tyrell. Many of the pioneers of the district are buried here. Behind the cemetery is the millpond and across the pond, a flour mill used to grind the wheat which was grown in the district. The earliest grave is from 1834, but this was relocated from behind the Catholic church in its original position; see 22. Further details are available at the Museum on the graves and the history of those buried in the cemetery. It is worth wandering among the graves to identify the graves of Mr. and Mrs. Dunlop who built Mulla Villa, the building visible when you enter Wollombi from the south. He was the first magistrate to live in the valley and he is buried with his wife alongside. Continue around the cemetery to the picnic area, some 200 meters further on.
- History Totems & Picnic Area. The brass plaque in front of the totems explains much of the local history. From here, cross the road to the west side and continue heading north for 300 meters past the fire shed to the Anzac reserve.
- The Anzac Reserve. Walk around the pond to the Anzac memorial and spend some time reading the memorials on the plaques set on the ground. There are 4 memorials in this Reserve, try and identify all of them. Return south towards the village keeping to the east side of the main road passing along Narone Lane. Stay alongside Wollombi Road and continue round the millpond to the school.
- Narone Lane
- Wollombi House. Dating back to approximately the 1870s and once operating as a guest house, this gorgeous homestead has beautiful Georgian features, stunning cedar woodwork throughout, a magnificent central grand hallway, and wide sweeping verandahs.
- Wollombi School & residence. This school has been in continuous operation since 1852. The present structure of sandstone was built in 1881, as was the school residence. Leave the school and cross the road at the school crossing to the north side of Wollombi Road. Continue heading west back to the village. Once you have crossed the road after approximately 100m, look across the road to the barn on the opposite side of the road.
- Capers Barn. This was built in the early part of the 20th century and was once The Boiling Billy where locals could get a cup of tea and a sandwich. Continue west for a further 200 meters until you come to the village.
- The Old Wollombi Dance Hall. The present building was originally the bulk feed store, built around the 1860s. From 1920 it operated as a warehouse and produce store. Take time to read the sign and look at the slabs, – if only they could talk! Look across the road to Wollombi Cottage.
- Wollombi Cottage. This building is thought to have been the Clerk of Petty Sessions building. It dates back to around 1840. In the revival of Wollombi in the 1970s it was restored.
- Kenny’s Folly. A two story stone building built around 1890 by John Kenny. Early 19th century part of the building was leased to Gordon Edgell, the engineer responsible for maintaining the district roads. Gordon Edgell went on to found the Edgell (food canning) Company. Next to Kenny’s Folly is the store.
- Wollombi Store. Built in 1841, it was leased in 1910 by Richard Owens, who was the founder of the Save-more chain of stores. Owen had a wagon which he took around the district visiting farmers and trading for fresh goods. Across from the store is another sandstone building which is now a private house.
- Former Overland Telegraph Office. The telegraph office was opened in 1860 and was combined with the Post office. The two offices merged in 1882. This building is now a private residence.
- St Michael’s Church. This church was originally built near Cunneens bridge in 1840. After the 1893 flood, it was relocated to its present site on higher ground. It features Gothic style doors and windows and a stained glass rose window behind the altar. The first foundation stone has been incorporated in the wall of the present building. Next to the church is the old forge with the blacksmith’s cottage behind.
- Blacksmiths forge with cottage behind. Continue down the road to the museum and spend some time viewing the exhibits.
- Wollombi Cultural Centre. Local Culture Centre With old Fire Shed Gallery behind.
- Endeavour Museum. Originally on this site was a timber courthouse and lock-up. David Dunlop was appointed as Police Magistrate for Wollombi and MacDonald in 1840. The present building was erected in 1866 and has also been used as a police station. In 1970, it became a museum operated by the Cessnock Historical Society. The museum features cedar fittings and original cells. Notably, there’s a brass strip on the side of the building marking the 1949 flood level.
- Convict Trail Project Post. On the opposite side of the road to the museum, on the corner of Great North Road and Wollombi Road, there is a tall post with the Convict Trail Project emblem on it. Spend a moment to read the plaques and reflect on the history of the area. Having completed the walk, cross the road to the Wollombi Tavern.
- Wollombi Tavern. A wine saloon has been operational on this site since 1868. It faced a significant setback in 1959 when it burned down under the ownership of Mel Jurd. The current structure serves as its replacement and is notably the home of Dr. Jurd’s Jungle Juice.
Parking is available at Wollombi Tavern, the Playground (located next to the Wollombi Sale yards) and in Negro Street. Public toilets in Wollombi are located at the Playground, as well as at the Wollombi Tavern.
Looking to stay the night? Check out our accommodation section.