The township of Woodstock sprang up when gold and copper deposits were found and mined in the area. Gold was found at Wood’s Flat as early as 1868, after which a community grew even though no large finds were ever recorded. Copper was also found in the area. Burley Jack copper mine began operating in 1877 and continued until 1911, large quantities of copper having been mined in that period. Another copper mine was operating in about 1880 on Milburn Creek. Here there was a small adjoining township comprised of several stores and three hotels. The town grew to 8,000 people with eight hotels, several stores and church halls. The three main mines that were operating at this time were the Queen, the Balmoral and the Isobel.
Bushrangers, including Ben Hall and his gang, were active in the area. At Cliefden there are still bullets holes in the stable wall to evidence an early raid. Johnny Vane, a member of the gang who died in 1904, aged 62, is buried in Woodstock Cemetery.
The coming of the railway was the factor causing the establishment of the town in its present position. Before the railway, Cobb & Co coaches passed through the district. The Sheet of Bark Hotel, situated just off the highway on the Canowindra Road, was a stopover for the coaches and owes its name to the old practice of depositing mail for collection under a sheet of bark. With the completion of the railway in 1888, businesses moved in from Wood’s Flat to be closer to transport. Before the railway the only building in Woodstock was a shepherd’s hut where the Royal Hotel now stands.
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