The first thing that will greet you at the top of the apartment stairs is a historic photograph of the first Bank of New South Wales. Garry and Caroline Shaw have a keen interest in history and are excited to share their ‘Bank of New South Wales’ and it’s history to enhance their guests’ experience.
The growth of the Wyalong goldfield attracted the mining reporter of the “Sydney Mail” who produced in October, 1900, this colourful report:
From Temora, via Barmedman, Wyalong is reached by a coach journey of some 40 miles. The first part of the trip from Temora, through Reefton, thence to Barmedman the road is a fairly decent one; but from this point to Wyalong one could scarcely conceive any bushtrack so bad.
A daily coach travels this track, and, in all conscience, the wonder is how the driver ever reaches his destination.
The greatest portion of it is positively dangerous. What with holes and ruts in every direction, the route really baffles description and is a disgrace to the colony.
Detours require to be made almost every quarter of a mile to allow the horses to get a decent footing through, in many instances, thick scrub. It is no wonder that some of our most prominent mining men have never seen the Wyalong field.
The 40-mile journey is quite an undertaking and Wyalong wants either a railway or a good road or both.
At the time of the report, there were more than 4,000 people at Wyalong, of whom about 2,000 were working miners at the ruling wage of £2/10/ a week.
It is questionable whether in NSW a reefing field of such lasting importance has ever been discovered.
The report continues to say: in the first six years the gold grade had been far above the average of any field in the colony, while its deposits were the most regular gold bearers ever discovered “in this province.”
In 1899,1,232 miners’ rights, 80 business licences, 399 gold leases aggregating 160 acres were issued. The revenue from these sources amounted to £539.
Ref: A Photographic Study of Gold in Australia 1854-1920
Gold Trails – discover more about NSW’s rich gold heritage vein:
The Modern Mining Trail – present day mine information and tours covering Bland, Cobar, Orange and Parkes:
Information on West Wyalong, things to do, shopping, entertainment etc.
Bland Shire Council, events diary, recreation, things to see.
About a month after his arrival in the town of Wyalong in August 1893, a ‘Mr Neeld’  uncovered several loose pieces of quartz, which when crushed and washed left a sparkling trail of fine gold in the prospector’s dish. This site of the first discovery of gold at Wyalong later became known as Pioneer Claim and it was soon after the initial find, that systematic prospecting operations began.
By the turn of the century the Wyalong goldfields were known as ‘the premier gold-producing camp of the colony of NSW’. In 1894, the first full year of operations, 6,358 tons of ore were treated to yield 9,649 ounces of gold valued then at approximately £35,946.
The last stretch of road however leading to this golden spot constituted some forty miles of tortuous bush track and its savage holes and ruts were described as “a disgrace to the colony… It is no wonder that some of our most prominent mining men have never seen the Wyalong field.” (see article on right).
So it was in such conditions that in March 1894, Mr R.W.B Burstal battled along the road from Temora to open a branch of the Bank of NSW. He was joined there by accountant Mr Thompson and a gold assayer from Head Office, Mr Nathaniel Neal.
Burstal though was shortly succeeded by J. W Broughton as Acting Manager and from March to August 1894 banking business was uncomfortably conducted in a 12′ x 10′ canvas tent, located on the track which was to become the main street.
Gold scales, ledgers, a safe, pistols, and a water tank were the main tools of trade and each of these instruments had to be guarded with zeal. The police once warned the bank’s officers that there were noted criminals on the field who would cut one’s throat in an attempt to get at the contents of the safe. One officer immediately wired Head Office requesting to be relieved.
In August 1894 the accomodation became slightly more salubrious when a weatherboard building was erected for the bank by Mr C.E De Boos Jr, Stationer of Temora. The accountant Mr Thompson described the new premises as “in the same locality (as the tent) a little higher up, about 16′ x 12′, unlined”. The rental was £1 a week to the end of 1894 and a lease for one year at 58 pounds and 10 shillings per annum was granted from 1 February 1895.
Following a succession then of rented premises the bank finally bought a two-storied brick shop on Main and Church Streets in November 1909.
In 1908 the Wyalong branch became known as West Wyalong. Three years later the Commercial Bank of Australia (CBA) also opened in the town and in 1984 the two amalgamated to form the current Westpac West Wyalong branch.
 ref: Stone, Derrick I. ed. Gold Diggers & Diggings.
This photograph was taken in 1918 the year the new building was opened. The Bank was designed by Ernest Rees Laver who was a significant and established Mebourne architect before moving to Cootamundra in 1904.
Only minor changes can be seen in this photograph taken in 1930, all the raised lettering is now picked out in paint.
1973 Bland Shire Council has erected illuminated signs in Main St and Church St, The Bank’s sign proudly reads ‘BANK OF NEW SOUTH WALES – FIRST BANK IN AUSTRALIA’.
An extract from The West Wyalong Advocate June 19th 1984:
Photograph caption reads: The General Manager of the Westpac Banking Corporation in NSW, Mr. John Chatterton, is pictured cutting the red ribbon to mark the official opening of the bank’s remodelled building on Thursday. Also pictured (from left) are deputy shire president, Cr. L. Moore, Westpac regional manager, Mr. K. Hughes and branch manager, Mr. Paul Hunter.
West Wyalong’s new look Westpac Banking Corporation premises in Main Street were officially opened on Thursday by -the General Manager for NSW, Mr. John Chatterton.
The interior of the building — formerly the Bank of NSW — has been completely remodelled to provide modem banking facilities and the exterior also received a face-lift at a cost in excess of $350,000. The building — constructed in 1917 and opened in 1918 — became the subject of a bitter battle between the then Bank of NSW and the NSW Heritage Council when the bank decided four years ago to demolish the building and erect modern new premises.
Despite opposition from the bank and the West Wyalong community, the Heritage Council won the battle and had an order placed on the building, protecting it from demolition.
The remodelling of the interior of the building started in August last year and after three years in temporary premises the staff moved into the “new” building in April.
In recalling this history, local manager, Mr. Paul Hunter said another special occasion involving Westpac occurred on Friday, June 8 when theCommercial Bank of Australia premises in Main Street were closed and the staff transferred to the old Bank of NSW building.
Deputy president of Bland Shire Council, Cr. L. Moore, welcomed Mr. Chatterton and the regional manager, Mr. Ken Hughes.
Cr. Moore said that although controversy surrounded the proposed demolition of the building, he was certain the bank and the community of West Wyalong are happy with the resulted achieved in the remodelling of the premises.
He recalled a similar restraining order hud been placed on the demolition of the old council chambers, but said the chambers had been reduced to a pile of rubble only days before the restraining order arrived and council was able to proceed with the construction of new chambers and office block at a cost well in excess of $1 million.
“Perhaps we can be thankful that the bank was a little slow in demolishing its building because what has been achieved in modernising the interior can only be described as superb.”
Cr. Moore congratulated the bank and those responsible for its design.
Mr. Chatterton commented he had been part of the process and negotiations “at the other end” in the remodelling of the branch — a project which had taken four years.
“While the controversy raged locally, we were certainly having trouble at the other end, and it was difficult for us to decide which way to go.
“We had a big price to pay in the restoration of this building, but in retrospect I think the right decision was taken when one sees the building as it now stands.
“From the outside it is a fine building, having retained all its original character, and when you walk inside you see beautiful and modern banking facilities.”
Mr. Chatterton congratulated the architect, building and painter on what had been achieved in providing high standard working conditions for the staff and modern banking facilities for customers.
“Our staff and customers have had to tolerate temporary premises for the past four years and I thank them for their patience.
“It’s a great honour for me to be here today to officially open this fine building,” he said.