AUGUST marks double celebrations for Wellington – the 200th anniversary of explorer John Oxley and his party entering the valley in 1817; and the 50th anniversary of the official opening of Burrendong Dam by NSW Premier, Bob Askin on August 18, 1967.
On the evening of August 18, 1817, Surveyor-General Oxley and his exploration party including botanist Allan Cunningham and George Evans and 10 others camped in a “romantic glen” with the intention of pressing forward next day towards a “finer and spacious valley”, which had been sighted earlier that day.
On Saturday, August 19, Wellington’s Cameron Park will be the venue for the 200th anniversary celebration of the European discovery of the “valley”, with market stalls and breakfast from 8am , a re-enactment of Oxley’s party arriving that will include Aboriginal dance from 9am followed by an official bicentennial ceremony at 9.45am at the rotunda.
On Friday, August 18, approximately 30 former dam builders and their families along with community members will gather at Burrendong Dam in recognition of the 50th anniversary of it, one of the largest inland dams in NSW (threee times the size of Sydney Harbour) being officially opened.
Construction began in 1946 after a catchment area of 13,900 square kilometres and more was purchased from families along the Macquarie and Cudgegong Rivers for the reservoir, which now has a storage capacity of 1.678 gigalitres and surface area of 7200 hectares.
At Cameron Park, NSW Water will host a marquee on Saturday as part of the bicentennial celebrations with historical information about the dam, and arrange dam tours by bus from the park to cross the dam wall to the spillway.
The Wiradjuri Wellington Aboriginal Town Common Aboriginal Corporation (WWATCAC) is also hosting an exhibition in the Old Western Stores building titled “Town common Art-a-facts”. On Thursday, August 18, at 5.30pm and Friday, August 19, at 11am, Macqaurie Regional Library at Dubbo and Wellington branches respectively will display a number of historical items from the State Library’s John Oxley Collection as part of a “John Oxley and the Wellington Valley” talk by state library curators.