We acknowledge and respect the ancient clutures of the Gundungurra, Wiradjuri and Durag aboriginal people who cared for this land.
Long before any white man had crossed the Blue Mountains, the first inhabitants had walked the land for thousands of years. The higher country in our area was traversed by the surrounding Indigenous nations, travelling to and from their summer and winter camps, also for hunting and gathering. They preferred the lower areas close to rivers for setting up camps, and the rough high country provided an abundance of wildlife for food and skins.

The Black Springs area lies within the fluid border areas between the lands of the Gundungurra, Wiradjuri and Durag people. Other Aboriginal nations also used the tracks as trading routes. These ‘paths’ were not marked but ‘known’.

One of their crossing paths was the plateau near Kanangra Walls where smooth round holes can still be seen, worn into the rock surfaces by the grinding and sharpening of stone axes and spear heads. Another was the route between their Gundungurra summer camp at the head of the Cox’s River to their winter camp in Burragorang Le Tonsure, Dual, Bian, Coocoogong (a Gundungurra chief) Bundles, Broughton & Gilderoy (from the Darug nation).

Avoca Catholic Church built in 1888
St Aidan's Anglican Church built in 1891

Greg Grady and Clive Behan built the first shop in 1937.
Other shop propietors were
Clive Behan         1938-1944
Gunning's             1944-1947
Pat Foran              1947 -1956    
Max  Hanrahan  1956 - 1960’s

Post Office - Post Masters/Mistress.

Michael Hanrahan (Burke) was the first post master in 1870.

Julia Hanrahan (daughter of Michael) post mistress in 1910.

John Edward Clive Behan- 1937.

Tom Stapleton  (Closed 1970’s)

Willow Springs Road, Black Springs  - 1940’s & 50’s         
Forestry Commission depot was established in 1953


Morton and Betty Gibbons (HOTHAM) built the first home in 1956 in Reserve Avenue. 


Bernie and Doreen English had the garage and shop in 1957.
Black Springs School opened in 1959 with Bruce Cady being the first teacher.  
Sports ground and tennis courts opened in 1962.

Behan, Braid, Davis, English, Foran, Gibbons, Hanrahan, Hotham, Mazzotti, Perrott, Stacy, Stapleton, Wildes Williams and Wilson.

Some local history......:

The wild country around the Abercrombie River was a popular ‘laying low’ hideout for anyone wanting to avoid the law. It was well known as a safe refuge for ‘bushrangers’ fleeing from the authorities. In the mid 1800’s bushrangers, Fred Lowry, John Foley, Larry Cummings and Ben Hall, are some who sought the safety of the Abercrombie Ranges.
Danny Maloney, who lived a short ride from the Abercrombie hills, is said to have made boots for Ben Hall and his gang.

The gold rush brought thousands of Chinese to NSW. Anti-Chinese sentiments started to rise among the European settlers because the Chinese were so successful. A riot in 1861 sent the Chinese to find gold in the less populated regions.  Remains of Chinese workings could be found around Isabella, Arkstone and the Abercrombie areas until recently. Ah Long, an old goldminer and Chinese herbalist, had a hut on the Gibbons' farm beside the Isabella River in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s.

DOG ROCKS was named because the native dogs lived among the rocks.
The Dog Rocks was also another favoured spot for bushrangers. It was used as a lookout, as the road from Bathurst to the south of the district was easily seen from its heights
In 1863 the Hall Gang held Assistant Commissioner Keightly from Dunn’s Plains, on top of ‘Dog Rocks’until a 500-pound ransom was paid for his release.

MOUNT DAVID was a thriving mining town at the turn of the century. The mine employed at least 130 men in its ‘heyday’. Walter Martin was the mine manager. The town had a number of pubs, a bank, church, dance hall and shops. The mine closed because underground water filled shafts and made it impossible to dig deeper.

The BRISBANE VALLEY area is just north east of Black Springs and the landholders were part of the Black Springs community. Some of them were involved in the building of Avoca Church and the early schools. Their children attended Mimosa Dell and Daisy Bank Schools.

Many surrounding areas, such as Porters Retreat, Shooters Hill and Isabella had their own Church, Post Office and Store. Porters Retreat also had a Police Station and Hall.

Early exploration of Black Springs

The original inhabitants of this land are the Australian aborigines of the Wiradjuri, Darug and Gundangara people.

The first Europeans to set foot west of the Blue Mountains were escaped convicts.

George Bass was in the Burragorang Valley in 1796. Other white men had also walked these tracks, as early as 1792 when John Wilson lived with the Gundungurra people for several years. He walked a number of tracks over the mountains, however,  his travels were not officially recorded.


Bass and Flinders mentioned a group of white men and women, (escaped convicts), living in the wilderness of the Illawarra in 1797. The Illawarra borders the Burragorang area.

Francis Barrallier crossed the Kowmung River south of Kanangra Walls, in 1802.

Surveyor George Evans named the Campbells River when he crossed it on December 8th 1813. Evans and his party were sent by Governor Lachlan Macquarie to explore the land west of the Blue Mountains after Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson’s exploration that same year. Evans named both the Campbells and Fish Rivers.


In 1819 Charles Throsby, left the Cowpastures, (near present day Camden)  to explore  west of the Blue Mountains, he finished his  journey near the site of Bathurst.  Governor Lachlan Macquarie stated in a despatch that: “The richest fertile country passed over by Mr Throsby…will be fully equal to meet every increase of the population.”


The first record of exploration in the Black Springs area is that of Charles Throsby in 1819.

An earlier track followed a line blazed in 1818 by surveyor James Meehan, Throsby and Hamilton Hume, which went generally east of the present Hume Highway, passing over the Mittagong Range near the Gib, through Bong Bong and Sutton Forest and by a circuitous route to Bungonia.  Throsby’s line followed this track until beyond Sutton Forest where it deviated west, following the Bathurst expedition route as far as the Goulburn Plains.


The earliest explorers covered a vast tract of land stretching from Bong Bong, over the Cookbundoon Ranges to the County of Argyle near Taralga, the Burra Burra Lagoon and continuing north over the Abercrombie River to the Campbells River and on through to Bathurst.

In  October 1820, explorer John Oxley travelled from Bathurst through the region. Oxley and his party followed the river, continuing on its eastern side, while travelling through Swatchfield and camped on the headwaters of the Campbells River.


Surveyor James Meehan marked a track in 1821 –

“From the Burra Burra Lagoon, (present day Taralga), which extended northerly across the Abercrombie and Colborne rivers, (Little River, Porters Retreat), to the source of the Campbells River.”


The First Record of Settlement in the Black Springs Area

William Davis, James Meehan and Philip Hogan, (United Irishmen), came to the colony as convicts on board the ‘Friendship’,in 1800.  Edward Redmond, also a United Irishman, arrived in the colony on the ‘Minerva’, in January 1800. These four men had a major influence in the first settlement of the Black Springs area.


In April 1800 James Meehan, explorer and surveyor, was assigned to Charles Grimes, the acting Surveyor General,. James Meehan surveyed all the earliest farms in New South Wales and established a street plan for the early township of Bathurst.


William Davis was given an unconditional pardon and he obtained land in The Rocks area of Sydney in 1809.

On 3rd May 1825, Sir Thomas Brisbane, gave William Davis permission to purchase 1000 acres of land, situated in the County of Georgiana at a place known by the aboriginal name of Beemarang, or Swatchfield.

Edmond Redmond leased land in the Campbells River area on the Eastern side of the Abercrombie River. His 1000 acres at Bingham, County Georgiana (Lower Arkstone) was granted in 1825, and surveyed on 31st August 1838.


Philip Hogan married Mary McMahon on the 26th March 1810.  Mary McMahon was born in Innes, Ireland, in 1777 and transported to the colony on board the ‘Rolla’ in 1803.  In 1810 Mary wrote to Governor Macquarie asking for a land grant and pardon for her husband. 


Philip Hogan was granted 120 acres at South Creek in 1818. His next grant was 50 acres in the district of Sutton, County Argyle, on the 30th November 1822. 

Philip and Mary Hogan’s family was established in the Abercrombie, Tuglow, Campbells River area possibly as early as the 1820s. After leaving South Creek, they settled at Hogan’s Station, Wiaborough, near the head of the Abercrombie River.

An old Hogan property, The Wrens Nest, at Porters Retreat, is recorded as early as 1829; however, the Hogan family was obviously well settled before then.

Philip Hogan died on 23rd May 1829. (see photo)


Philip’s wife, Mary and their children went on to pioneer the areas of Black Springs, Tuglow, Duckmaloi, Bingham, Laggan and Limerick and many localities between all those regions. To this day, numerous old Hogan properties remain with the descendant families of Mary and Philip.


Mary Hogan died at ‘Tuglow’ on 7th September 1859 and is buried at the Black Springs Historic Catholic Cemetery.


Patrick Hanrahan arrived in the colony aboard the ‘Atlas 11’ in 1802, from Galway, Ireland. He was granted a Conditional Pardon for his services in assisting to make the first road to Bathurst. 

Patrick Hanrahan is mentioned in 1822, along with Michael Hogan, Charles York and James Smithey, as receiving permission to take 117 head of their cattle through the Cowpastures over the Cookbundoon Ranges to County Argyle.  Records show he was leasing land at Swatchfield on 1st January 1837. Patrick Hanrahan’s second wife was Catherine Burke nee Hogan, daughter of Philip and Mary Hogan. 


John Larkin Scarvell, son-in-law of Edward Redmond, secured 2560 acres at Arundel Park in 1829.


Sarah McHenry, daughter of Rev Henry Fulton, was granted 1280 acres, between the head of the Brisbane Valley Creek and Swatchfield in 1829, as a free grant to a clergyman’s daughter.


Davis, Redmond, Hogan, Meehan and Fulton were a small group of emancipists who played an important part in the affairs of the colony during Macquarie’s governorship. Their energy and ability justified Macquarie’s belief that good conduct and reformation should enable a man to regain his place in society, which he had lost when sentenced to transportation.

The electoral rolls of 1906 and 1961 show the residents of Black Springs were:-

ARROW at Glenhaggard     BURCHER at Tilsbury   

BEHAN at Claremount, Inverella, Baders Mount.

CURRY at Ryelie, FOLEY at Green Mount, FORAN at Rockdale, Jerula Road,

GRADY at Forest Home, Avoca, Abbey Villa and Avaleigh, 

HANRAHAN at Widlmere, Daisy Bank, Rockdale, Woodsland, Toree Vale, Flowerdae, Kia Ora,

HOTHAM at Glenroy,  KNIGHT at Springvale, No More, Forest View, MACKEY at McKinnon, MORAN at White Springs, ROBINSON at Jerula, Merville Park, 

ROLLS at Woodlands, Ryand at Rosedale, STAPLETON at Atkins Vallley,

WILDS at Riverside and WILSON at Dartford. 


The name ‘Swathchfield’ is first mentioned in a warrant from Governor Thomas Brisbane on 3rd May 1825, allowing William Davis to purchase 1000 acres in the “Counties of Georgiana and Westmorland Parish unnamed at Beemerang, or Swatchfield on the Campbells River.” The Parish of Swatchfield is a locality just off the Campbells River in East New South Wales and is situated about 130kms west of Sydney.


In 1858, Patrick Hanrahan Senior, referred to his fifty acres – “situated at Black Springs in the said colony”. This was some 2 miles west of where the present day Black Springs village is located. Patrick and Catherine’s son, Michael Hanrahan, (Burke), was appointed postmaster of Black Springs on 1st October 1870.


The present day Black Springs was swampy, green scrub with tall timbers and once known as Kangaroo Flat, or Avoca.


On 25th October 1885, the Catholic Bishop of Bathurst, Bishop Joseph Byrne, held a three day mission in a tent at Kangaroo Flat, (located at St Aidans) and renamed the area Avoca after the vales of Ireland.

He stated in his diary – “Avoca, a new name given to Kangaroo Flat”. The area was widely known as Avoca until the mid 1950’s.


On the 2nd July 1954 it was dedicated as the Village of Swatchfield.


On 14th April 1961 the village name was altered under the Crown Lands Consolidation Act, 1931, to Black Springs.


Prior to 1950 the locals referred to the area as the ‘Crossroads’ and the only building was the relocated Post Office/Store.

Black Springs Post Office. 


Michael Hanrahan (Burke) was informed by G J Stevenson esq. JP of Swatchfield that he had been recommended as Post Master at Black Springs.  Michael Hanrahan was appointed postmaster on the 1st October 1870.


Michael’s daughter, Julia, was assigned as postmistress on 2nd July 1910, following the death of her father. A telephone office was established on 30th September 1914 and a public telephone was available at the post office. The first households to have the telephone connected were the Stephenson’s at Swatchfield and the Burcher’s at Tilsbury.

John Edward Clive Behan succeeded Julia Hanrahan as postmaster on 1st July 1937. The Post Office was relocated to the cross roads where the current village of Black Springs is now situated.



The first school in the Black Springs area was Mimosa Dell. A successful application to open the school, was lodged in July 1876, by John Kessey, John Grady, Thomas Foley and Daniel McFee and the school opened in 1881. From June 1883, Mimosa Dell school shared a teacher with Walbrook school. Mimosa Dell closed in 1948.


The second school opened at Swatchfield in 1881, after an application from Alfred Stevenson, James Hanrahan and John Foley was successful. Swatchfield closed in the late 1950’s


The third school, Daisy Bank, opened after an application was lodged on 4th September 1892.  The families attending this school were Charles Moran, George Arrow, J M Behan, Patrick Behan, P Hanrahan, and E W Hotham. Daisy Bank closed in 1968. The current Black Springs School opened in 1959 and became the local primary school for all in the district.



The Black Springs area is renowned for its fertile basalt soils and high rainfall, ideal for farming and grazing.


The residents of the district sourced  viable means to make a living, such as gold mining; milling of natural timber; distilling of eucalyptus oil, together with pea and potato growing.


The production of fat lamb and beef cattle remain one of the most viable industries amongst local farmers.

In 1929 an area of land was dedicated as Vulcan State Forest, however it wasn’t until the 1950’s that the forestry industry commenced and more land was secured for planting pine. The forestry development supplied many locals with employment and the production of timber is still a major industry in the region today.

John Foley - Bushranger

John Foley born in 1833 and died 26th Feb 1891 aged 58

Information condensed from story written by Mrs Narelle Kissell

John Foley has left an indelible mark in that Part of Australia’s Colonial History known as “The Bushranger Era”

John Foley’s story is unusual in that having paid the penalty for his crime, he settled down, married and became the father of a large family and a well-respected member of the community.

John and his brother Patrick were the sons of Lawrence and Mary Margaret Foley.

John and Patrick married two sisters the daughters of Peter and Margaret Behan of Claremont Black Springs.

John married Bridget Margaret Behan and Patrick married Ann Elizabeth Behan.

Prior to his marriage to Bridget on 13th November 1877, in the Catholic Church at O’Connell, John lived a life outside the law.

John developed a friendship with Thomas Fredrick Lowry.  Lowry had formed a relationship with Ben Hall and Frank Gardiner, the friendship between John and Thomas lead to unlawful exploits, the most brazen being the Robbery of the Mudgee Mail on 13th July 1863.

The story written by Narelle Kissell portrays a reckless and vehement time involving revolvers with shoot outs. Fred Lowey was shot at Limerick on the Cooksvale. 

John was finally apprehended and sentenced to 15 years gaol. He served 10 years and on returning home settled down to married life with Bridget.

John and Bridget lived on their small farm purchased by John in 14th June 1877. (now known as Avaleigh Elms on the Abercrombie Rd)

John and Bridget had 3 daughters and 3 sons.

John contributed to the building of the Avoca Church and one window in the church is in memory of his parents Lawrence and Margaret Foley. John also has a window in his memory.

 John died suddenly on 26th Feb 1891 aged 58 whilst riding home from the Avoca Church, he had suffered a heart attack.

Bridget was left to raise their children and lived in the area all her live. Bridget never remarried and spent the next 43 years devoted to her family and her faith.

John is buried in the Old Black Springs Cemetery


Historic facts submitted by local historian, Alan Hoolihan, from documented resources, assisted by Christine Healey and Karel Hogan, with special mention to Thora Hogan and Paddy Grady Wozencraft.



Charles Throsby's expendition 1819.jpg

Map of Charles Throsby’s expedition 1819 (The Royal Australian Historical Society Journal and Proceedings Vol VII part V)

Mary Hogan's Headstone Black Springs

Mary Hogan's Headstone Black Springs

Philip Hogan Headstone

Philip Hogan Headstone

Patrick Hanrahan

Patrick Hanrahan

Thomas Fardy and his wife Catherine.

Thomas Fardy and his wife Catherine.



Michael Hanrahan and his Julia outside the Old Black Springs Post Office

Julia Hanrahan Post Mistress 1910- 1937.

Julia Hanrahan Post Mistress 1910- 1937.

Edward Hotham and Elizabeth Hotham

Edward Hotham and Elizabeth Hotham

John Foley - Bushranger

John Foley - Bushranger

Droving sheep on the Rockley Road

Droving sheep on the Rockley Road

Daisy Bank School

Daisy Bank School

Eric Hanrahan

Eric Hanrahan

Billy Stapleton with his bullock team

Billy Stapleton with his bullock team

Porters Retreat Post Office

Porters Retreat Post Office