A fine example of early motoring
The sleepy little town of Dungog is located in the upper reaches of the Williams River valley, nestled between the ridges that run through the town centre. A picturesque country setting for a local motor garage with an exciting history.
The town is characterised by its wide streets, a legacy from the colonial days when it was necessary to be able to turn around a bullock wagon.
An exciting and colourful collection of Colonial, Edwardian and Interwar buildings dot the town centre that makes the commercial precinct of the town.
The blacksmith was one of the key trades in Dungog as it was in most rural settlements in colonial Australia and in the homeland of rural England. Dungog’s 300 dairy farmers certainly made use of the local smithy.
The motor car appeared in the early 20th century and the local blacksmiths turned their hand to car maintenance. The smithy repaired farmer’s wagons and ploughs, then moved to look after motor cars.
Some blacksmith’s shops turned into the local garage with a petrol pump on the footpath and service workshop out the back. Dungog has several garages, and one of these is the Ford dealership and NRMA representative at Davey and Olsen.
The Davey and Olsen garage is located at 160-168 Dowling Street Dungog and is part of the 19th-century commercial precinct of traditional trades and services along Dowling Street.
The family business acquired the Ford dealership in 1925 and the garage grew to serve the growing number of car owners, which was encouraged by the construction of the Chichester Dam (op. 1926).
As the number of dairy farmers in the area declined, the pressures of development passed the town and the local garages and other buildings in the town centre have retained many of their original features.
The morphology of the Dowling Street business precinct is similar to the town of the early 20th century. The streetscape has changed little in over 80 years.
Learn more about the history of Dungog NSW
Dungog Heritage Study Review 2014
Michael Williams, A History in Three Rivers: Dungog Shire Heritage Study Thematic History. (NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, Heritage Council of NSW, Dungog Shire Council, 2014)
Updated 27 April 2023. Originally posted 1 January 2019.
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