After you turn off the highway you will see, to the left, St Columba's Anglican Church which was built of sandstone in 1899. A little further on is the bridge over the Munmurra River.
As you enter town head down Branksome St. To the right is the modest courthouse/police station complex, designed by Alexander Dawson and built of sandstone in 1858. The police residence, designed by Walter Vernon, dates from 1890. Just past them is an old store which is thought to have been run by Chinese residents at the outset of the century.
The road bends to the left, becoming Buccleugh St. To the right is an attractive timber house dating from the late 19th century when it served as a doctor's residence.
Further along the road, to the left, is the Royal Hotel, built of sandstone c. 1870. On the other side of the road, just past the post office, is the Cassilis Community Centre and library (early 20th century).
Just over Scott St is St Joseph's Catholic Church. Along Scott St an old hitching post can still be seen.
If you continue along Buccleugh St and follow the road as it bends left as the Coolah Rd then, on top of the hill, gazing over the valley below, is the public school (1875) which is still in use.
Beyond the school turn left into Ancrum St which will lead you back in the direction of the highway.
Hands on the Rock
10 km south-west of Cassilis, the Ulan/Mudgee Rd heads south off the Golden Highway. About 20 km along this road take the signposted right onto the dirt road. After 100 m turn right into a small clearing and a 400-m walking track starts from the far side. It leads to overhanging rocks where there are Aboriginal hand stencils dating back hundreds of years.
If you continue south on the road to Ulan for another 2.3 km, just before you reach the Goulburn River, there is a signposted turnoff to the left which leads to a car park. A walking track begins on the northern side of the parking area and follows a cliff face adjacent the Goulburn River and over a footbridge. Follow the rock face and you will cross a small bridge, a tumble of rocks and Curra Creek. Walk through the ferny glade then you will pass by a large rock to the right. To the left there are rock orchids and ferns on the cliff face. The track then proceeds on to the sandy riverbank and through a hollowed arch rock. A sign indicates a left turn back to the honeycombed cliff face which you follow to the end. Cross over the grassy bank and a sharp left brings you to the Drip where the river flows over a rock platform.
The town began as a private village in the 1830s called Dalkeith to serve the Cassilis and Dalkeith Stations. The former property was granted to Alexander Busby in 1835 and the latter to Donald McIntyre, the brother of Peter McIntyre in 1834, although it was later acquired by Busby.
Cassilis was originally a private village known as Dalkeith and for this reason a village was planned to serve the area at Borambil. Collaroy Station expanded and extended in the latter half of last century from the Liverpool Range to the Goulburn River west of Bow Creek. This property was responsible for much of the improvement in the Merino Sheep Breed. Several Chinese were imported when country labour became scarce in the 1840's and 1850's after transportation of convicts was abolished and the gold rush enticed labourers to the gold fields. Ho Hi, Sim Lou, Ung Tan, Ke Hi, Un Chum and Lee Choo were among the Chinese who worked in the Merriwa District. 8km to the south-east of Cassilis, the government village called Borambil was laid out (it is now a settlement of a half dozen houses on the Golden Highway) but people favoured Dalkeith as it was located on a stock route and near a good water supply. The settlement later became a stopover for coaches bound west from Muswellbrook until the railway replaced the coach service. It was gazetted as a town and named Cassilis in 1869.
Aboriginal bushranger Jimmy Governor worked as a police tracker at Cassilis just prior to taking up a job at Breelong where he started a three-month rampage which resulted in ten murders. His story served as the basis of Thomas Keneally's novel The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith which was made into a film. Governor lived behind the police station.
Merriwa Visitor Information Centre
Phone: 02 6521 7046
Fax: 02 6521 7086
Upper Hunter Shire Council is a local government authority and provides an extensive array of services including health and building; town planning; aged care; sporting and recreational facilities; roads; libraries; garbage collection; airport facilities; saleyards; public venues; water; children, youth and families and tourist information.