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September 06, 2019

A (very) short history of early Orange

It was in 1829 when the surveyor J. B. Richards drafted a plan that would set aside an area for a village reserve, in the local parish of Orange. Open land stretched as far as the eye could see. It was New South Wales 'Go West' moment as the government of the day was keen to continue to push out west to help feed the growing colony.

Later that year, the first of many British graziers started to arrive into the area, along with their livestock, wives and children. (Remember, it was back in the early 19th century!)

By 1844, word had got out the graziers and started to encroach on lands that JB Richard has set aside for future villages - not good!

So it wasn't long before another surveyor called Davidson made the trip 'out west'. His superiors had instructed him to check out that lay of the lands, and advise on a suitable location for a new township. He came up with three choices: Blackman's Swamp, Frederick's Valley or Pretty Plains.

Davison must have been a pretty dour sort of guy as he passed on Pretty Plains pretty quickly.  Fredericks Valley was given no consideration. Rumour has it his wife had been sleeping with an officer called Frederick at the Barracks at Hyde Park, Sydney*

(*writers creative licence to tell a good story)

Henceforth it was announced that Blackman's Swamp was to be the site of the new township. And luckily for us all that in 1846 Sir Thomas Mitchell named the village Orange, after his war-time mate, Prince William of Orange. The two men had fought side-by-side in the Peninsular War, a 'good old fashion' conflict between Napoleon's empire and Bourbon Spain in 1807.

A few short years later the town had started to get itself together, and in  1860, the municipality of Orange was proclaimed.  After the first council election, John Peisley was elected Chairman of Orange. However, he was stripped of the title after the council itself fell into legal controversy. Suspended by order of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, a new election was held, and by 1868 a new group of councillors were elected. Law and order had been rightfully restored in Orange!