A small country town, dating back to the late 1820s. Many of Stroud's old buildings have been preserved and the whole town is under National Trust classification.
Where is it?: Hunter Valley. Stroud is 72 km north of Newcastle; 219 km north of Sydney by road.
This is a small, old-style, genuinely historic and very picturesque country town that time seems to have bypassed. The oldest are convict-built. As a company town which was planned rather than developed piecemeal it had, and retains, some unity of focus and character. Stroud is full of attractive old buildings nestled peacefully in pleasant and green Karuah Valley. The absence of tourist facilities such as motels and restaurants is considered by some townsfolk to be a drawback but it is also its attraction.
Events: The towns of Stroud in England, the United States, Canada and Australia hold an International Brick and Rolling Pin Throwing Competition on the same day in July. It is preceded by a procession. The Stroud Show is held in April.
Lookout: Silo Hill is named after eight subterranean silos, convict-built in 1841 to store the AAC's grain and protect it (successfully) from weevils and other pests. They are still there and can be inspected by lifting the heavy iron cover by the picnic tables and climbing down the ladder. Some 6 m deep and 5 m wide they are internally lined with locally-made bricks and are clearly bell-shaped.
The two cannons on Silo Hill were made in England in the mid-1850s, at the time of the Crimean War. They became part of the battery protecting Sydney Harbour in 1866 and, in 1882, were sent to Signal Hill (now Fort Scratchley) in Newcastle. A sign on the hill notes 'the cannons were positioned in 1909, being transported by bullock wagon from Booral'. They were intended purely as ornamentation.
Things to see and do
Many of Stroud's old buildings have been preserved and the whole town is under National Trust classification. The oldest are convict-built. As a company town which was planned rather than developed piecemeal it had, and retains, some unity of focus and character.
Guided tours of the area can be arranged for groups and coach parties, Ph. (02) 4994 5400. However, the simplest way to see it is to get a heritage walk brochure from the newsagency at the corner of Cowper St (the main through-road) and Memorial Ave. The town is small enough to cover the ground on foot. The pamphlet also deals with the heritage of the areas to the north and south of Stroud.
Booral Wharf Ruins: about 1.5 km down river, on the eastern bank of the Karuah River, are the ruins of the old wharf at Booral (c.1834). Situated at what was found to be the northernmost point of navigability it was used to facilitate an exchange of goods with the AAC settlement at Carrington.
Barrington Tops: carved out of an ancient volcano, Barrington Tops rises from near sea level to over 1500m. In the lower valleys, there are World Heritage-listed subtropical rainforests. Up on the plateau, the sub-alpine woodland regularly sees snow in winter. Most of the area is declared wilderness, and it's a well-known destination for bushwalkers, however the park is accessible even to those with limited mobility.
Dungog: a pleasant country town on the Williams River, located in the middle of dairy and timber country. Dungog is rich in natural assets. including mountain ranges, freshwater streams, clean air and magnificent rural vistas. Popular Dungog events are the Dungog Film Festival hosted at the James Theatre, the Dungog Agricultural Show, Pedalfest, the Dungog Rodeo, and the Thunderbolt Rally. Dungong marks the entrance to Barrington Tops.
Gloucester: a quiet, charming country town in the dairy and beef cattle country of the Manning district, 31 km north of Stroud via The Bucketts Way. Gloucester nestled in a valley under a range of impressive monolith hills called The Bucketts. It is the eastern gateway to Barrington Tops National Park.