Australian National University student Peter Woodley works on PhD about rural communities near Dubbo

Farming and village life near Dubbo in days gone by holds a fascination for research student Peter Woodley.

The aspiring Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) wants to know more about the communities that emerged in the Dubbo hinterland between about 1870 and 1950.

It’s a vast project but it’s perhaps not surprising the Canberra-based researcher has chosen the topic for his PhD.

Mr Woodley grew up in the Westella-Ballimore-Wongarbon districts and his family has been associated with the area since the 1870s.

He would like to hear from people who had ancestors who lived or worked in the multitude of communities that sprang up around Dubbo.

They include Ballimore, Beni, Brocklehurst, Burrabadine, Coboco, Comobella, Coolbaggie, Eschol, Eulomogo, Eumungerie, Geurie, Gollan, Maryvale, Minore, Mogriguy, Rawsonville, Terramungamine, Toongie, Westella, Windorah or Wongarbon.

Mr Woodley is also hopeful some seniors may have some memories to share.

“I’m interested in what sort of communities emerged in the Dubbo hinterland between roughly 1870 and 1950, in the family farm as an economic and social unit, the extent to which people came together for social, economic and political purposes, and any evidence of a distinctive identity emerging through those processes,” he said.

“I’m interested in the district’s connectedness to the town and to the rest of the world too: for example, how far afield did people travel for business or for holidays?”

As well as oral history, Mr Woodley is interested in what written documents can tell him about the period.

Letters, diaries, account books and other financial records, minutes of local organisations such as hall or sporting club committees, Country Women’s Association, and Farmers and Settlers Association branches all have potential.

Anyone who may be interested and has either experienced or can recall stories of older generations can contact Mr Woodley by phone on 0422 002 084 or email peter.woodley@anu.edu.au

The Woodleys have been associated with the Dubbo district since the 1870s, when Mr Woodley’s great-grandfather’s brothers and sister, and their families, settled on land around Warrie Flat and Eulomogo.

His great-grandparents Henry and Elizabeth arrived in 1887 and took up land north of Murrumbidgerie (later Wongarbon) on a property they named ‘Mountain View’.  

Mr Woodley’s grandfather, Harold, acquired a block at Westella, cut from the old Murrumbidgerie station, which he called Haroldene in 1904.  

“I grew up on my father’s property (he’s also Harold), called Karingal, which was formerly part of Haroldene,” he said.

During travels for research Mr Woodley has on occasions had the company of his father Harold.

He captured a photo of his father at Maryvale on the cricket pitch near the local hall.

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