Between August 12 and 20, Wellington will mark its bicentenary of European arrival in Wiradjuri country virtually to the day that intrepid explorer John Oxley arrived in the area and which proved to be a discovery of great economic value to the British colony of New South Wales.
It’s Oxley, too, who history books thank for naming the area ‘Wellington Valley’ which he christened in honour of the then Duke of Wellington, Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley.
The Duke had just beaten that French nuisance, Napoleon, at the Battle of Waterloo two years prior so understandably Wellesley was a bit of a rock star across the British Empire. The Lion of Waterloo, the oldest hotel west of the Blue Mountains, also in Wellington, is named after the same war hero.
As is the Wellington boot (the shoes and the horse race).
At the time, Oxley journaled: “Imagination cannot fancy anything more beautifully picturesque than the scene which burst upon us. The breadth of the valley to the base of the opposite gently rising hills was between three and four miles, studded with fine trees, upon a soil which for richness nowhere can be excelled... in the centre of this charming valley ran a strong and beautiful stream, its bright transparent waters dashing over a gravelly bottom, intermingled with large stone, forming at short intervals considerable pools, in which the rays of the sun were reflected with a brilliancy equal to that of the most polished mirror.”
Johnny O was quite the writer!
Wellington was gazetted in 1823 as a convict settlement, the caves were first recorded in 1828, a mail coach was introduced in 1832, and in 1841 a licence for the Lion of Waterloo was issued.
In 1846, the village of Wellington was proclaimed and within three years a ferry crossed the Macquarie River and gold was found.
The rest, as they say, is history.
So, plans are afoot to celebrate all that’s been and will be, between Friday and Sunday, August 12 to 20.
At the old Western Stores building in Nanima Crescent there will be a daily exhibition of Aboriginal art by the Wiradjuri Wellington Aboriginal Town Common Aboriginal Corporation (WWATCAC) featuring works from Doug Ah See and other local artists.
At 11am on Friday, August 18, State Library of NSW curators will share John Oxley’s longer journal from his 1817 expedition at the Wellington Library.
Tim Gilbert and Max Cullen are special guests at the welcome dinner that evening, then it’s family fun at Cameron Park on Saturday, August 19.
Activities include markets, breakfast available, dance performances, a John Oxley re-enactment, and an official ceremony with Tim Gilbert, Max Cullen and Aunty Joyce.
From 2pm onward there’ll be live music in the local pubs.
For more information go to www.visitwellington.com.au.
Happy Birthday Wellington!
Yvette Aubusson-Foley is a Dubbo journo, who spent time living and raising her family in the USA, but has now returned to her home town.