While Cudgegong might now just be a locality on a map, it was once a village - the former site of which now lies beneath the waters of Windamere Dam.
The areas surrounding Cudgegong had been used for various forms of agriculture, including dairy, fruit and vegetables, wool, and cattle. In 1858 the Lands Department issued a map that showed over 50 allotments, with streets and reserve.
From the 1860s the village had a school, which at first was Anglican then later converted to a public school that celebrated its centenary in 1968. The original school building - overlooking the village - would become the Church of St James the Less.
Dairy farmers in the area made use of the milk factory, built around the turn of the century by the river. And the Cudgegong Store served locals from about the 1870s.
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The hall was built in the 1930s and provided a valuable community centre that was used for dances, meetings, and wedding receptions. Other things to do in the village included cricket, tennis, and swimming in the Crown Dam.
The pub - originally called the Royal Hotel - was opened in the late 1850s and was a changing point for Cobb & Co. A popular meeting point for locals, like many small villages in Australia it was one of the last buildings to go after 120 years.
During its final decades, the establishment benefited from laws that only permitted Sunday trading for "travellers" - so patrons would make the trip from Mudgee. Although, in the Mudgee Guardian prior to the pub's closure, Mr Dadd - who held the lease in its final year - said, "business wasn't bad in the beginning, but Cudgegong is nearly a ghost town now".
At around mid-last century, water storage in the Mudgee Region became a priority and Cudgegong's days were numbered. Construction of Windamere Dam was completed in the 1980s and the ribbon was cut by then-premier Neville Wran.
Prior to then the disused buildings were demolished before it filled up. In December 1982 the first cars drove onto the 15km Windamere Dam diversion road - forever bypassing the former village.
And even though construction of the main wall hadn't been completed yet, the Mudgee Guardian reported at the time that there was already an indication of what was to come. "A small lake has already appeared on the western side of the Limestone Creek bridge, which passes over a large man made channel."
The village of Cudgegong was sacrificed, but what the wider region gained would be unparalleled water security that supported its growth for the decades that followed.
- This article was produced from the archives of the Mudgee Historical Society and the Mudgee Guardian/The Weekly.