Fords Bridge
Collage of Fords Bridge.

Fords Bridge is a nondescript hamlet lying between Green Creek and the Warrego River, barely a kink in the road between Bourke and Hungerford. These days Fords Bridge consists of nothing more than the Warrego Hotel and a handful of houses and sheds. The Warrego Hotel is worthy of a mention as it was constructed in 1913 of mud bricks and may be the sole surviving hotel in Australia that boasts this method of construction.

Originally known as Fords Crossing the pub rests on the site of the old Salmon Ford Hotel which once served as a Cobb & Co change station where the legendary stage coaches swapped out their horses for a fresh team.

It seems Michael McAuliffe held the first license here in 1873 although it's quite likely an unlicensed 'sly-grog' shop existed prior to that. McAuliffe sold the pub to Norman McPhee who was quite the entrepreneur, owning the Fords Bridge Store and running a passenger coach between Bourke and Hungerford. Richard Green had a four year spell as publican and an article from the 'Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal' points out that being the proprietor of an isolated outback hotel in 1893 wasn't all it could have been -

'About a fortnight ago 16 of the men who struck at Brewarra Station came to Ford's Bridge. Half of them received rations from Mr. Green, of the Salmon Ford Hotel, and the other half was supplied by Mr. McLellan at his store. That night they they took possession of the bar at Mr. Green's, and would not leave it until two o'clock in the morning, making a most unearthly row all the time. They never spent any money, and it was with difficulty they were prevented from helping themselves to what they wanted. They, however, did break into the kitchen and stole 7lbs. of flour, 10 loaves of bread, all the meat, and other things. Mr. Green was powerless to prevent them from doing what they liked. A police station has been marked out at Ford's Bridge for some time, but no protection in the shape of a constable has been sent. In fact, people in the back country are almost always exposed to treatment such as Mr. Green experienced, and have no remedy. It is to be hoped that police protection of some sort will be provided for this part of the district during the shearing season, if not permanently.'

Fords Bridge can claim at least one famous association. The drunken bush poet, Henry Lawson, lived and worked in the district. He once walked from Bourke to Hungerford, passing through Fords Bridge although the place left little enough of an impression for him to write much of it.

A little known or understood geological oddity occurrs in the Fords Bridge area. 11km northeast of the town is a location known as the 'Sounding Mound'. It's a 30 metre by 12 metre area which, although hard on top, sounds hollow when jumped upon. Apparently the region contains many such curiosities which may be 'mound springs' - fissures form artesian springs.

Fords Bridge is a typical north west N.S.W. waypoint. Tiny, isolated and to some degree stuck somewhere between 1870 and the present. Once a place of real purpose today it hardly seems worth slowing down for although the food at the pub is rumoured to be good and the museum is an interesting diversion.


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