It is great to see buildings at the bend in Gaskill Street being renovated in time for the Bushrangers' Jubilee celebrating 150 years since the Ben Hall gang's famous raids of Canowindra.
In 1863 Canowindra was only a small wayside village with a cluster of mostly wooden buildings near today's bend in the street. Some, including a butcher's and a blacksmith's, led to the first ford of the river at the site of today's Swinging Bridge. Others were along the track above the flood plain that is now the middle section of Gaskill Street. One exception was a substantial shop built about 1860 by James Collits. It was the first brick building in Canowindra and Pierce's store in 1863. The former Rural Bank now occupies its site. The Canowindra Inn and Pierce's Store were the focus of Canowindra's bushranger raids.
Collits also owned the Canowindra Inn opposite the store, licensed to William Robinson in 1863 and known mostly as Robinson's Inn. This was when public houses were required by law to display prominently the name of the licensee and so were usually known by the licensee's name. They also had to have a light burning all night outside as a beacon for travellers. Canowindra's bushranger story has often been confused about sites and actual buildings of the raids. The Royal Hotel, built in 1910 to replace the old north side hotel, rightly claims to be the site of bushranger raids but cannot claim to be the actual building, which occupied the site of today's Canowindra Pharmacy and some of the adjoining building, all on Collits' land. The hotel raided was the Canowindra Inn until 1887 when, with change of publican and renovations, it became the Miners Arms, to reflect another period of Canowindra's history.
South of the river, where the town was originally planned, was another inn, The Travellers' Rest, built of mud, dating back to 1846. It was owned and licensed to Robinson at various periods before and after 1863 but in that crucial year was Daly's pub, licensed to Nicholas Daly who was also the postmaster. A monument to mark this hotel was erected by Boree Shire in 1951 but wrongly claims it was the hotel raided by bushrangers. On the night of the second raid, however, Ben Hall and John Vane rode on one horse across the rising river to the south side pub on the first evening, no doubt to check if there was anyone there who might report them to the police in Cowra. Thanks are due to Bill Barwood, who lives near the monument, for recently prevailing on Cabonne Council to restore the monument's lettering and cleaning the Historical Society's correcting brass plaque.