Bushranging began in the region in the late 1850s well before Grenfell was ever proclaimed. During this period there were many travellers on the roads and the area was a haven for bushrangers. Ben Hall is a bushranger synonymous with the area. In 1850 he and other members of the Hall family moved to the Lachlan district, where Ben Hall became a stockman. More information on Ben Hall is available fromt the Gold Trails website.
The discovery of gold in Grenfell
In 1866 shepherd, Cornelius O’Brien discovered a gold bearing quartz outcrop. Within weeks, large parties of miners from the Lambing Flats and Forbes diggings arrived. Tents, bark huts and a business centre grew along the banks of Emu Creek. Between 1867 and 1869 over 40,000 ounces of gold were produced each year on the Grenfell goldfields and were the richest gold fields in NSW during this time.
Grenfell was proclaimed on January 1 1867 after Gold Commissioner, John Granville Grenfell, who was wounded by bushrangers near Narromine on December 7 1866. John Granville Grenfell was driving a coach at the time and refused to stop when bushrangers called him to. He was shot twice in the groin and died 24 hours later.
More information on the discovery of gold in Grenfell is available on the Gold Trails website.
Henry Lawson was born on the Grenfell goldfields in 1867. Lawson remains one of Australia's most famous writers. Lawson had known life as a bush worker, house painter, telegraph linesman, journalist and rouseabout. Much of what he saw and experienced went into his short stories but his deepest feelings are revealed in his verse. He was haunted by the impermanence of life and his poetry was often criticised as being too melancholy. Lawson was able to depict in story and verse the life of the common man and woman of the time.
Lawson died aged 55 and was given a state funeral, the first writer to be given one. The site of Henry's birth is marked with an obelisk which stands under a gum tree planted by his daughter. For more information about Henry Lawson click here.