Old Dubbo Gaol will be closed from 15th of August until 28th of August 2016
In 2016 Old Dubbo Gaol is undertaking sensitive heritage works to the unique wood block entrance floor. Due to this work taking place in the main entrance to Old Dubbo Gaol we will be closed for two weeks while this work takes place.
The original wood blocks have suffered from white ant attack and, over time, have degraded and rotted greatly. Many of the original wood-blocks that remain have rotted to the extent that their structural integrity has been compromised, creating dangerous trip hazards as they crumble and fail.
This project will involve assessing the condition of each of the original blocks, if found in a good condition they will be saved and re-laid. Blocks in a rotted state will be saved and used for display and exhibition.
New blocks will be cut, to replace rotted blocks, using the same wood as the original blocks: mature Narrow-Leaved Ironbark. The type of wood was discovered after an original block was sent to Sydney for laboratory analysis.
Originally wood blocks were dipped in tar which is now recognised as a highly toxic substance, instead we will use a tar coloured wood-preservative oil which will look and act in the same way.
All blocks will be laid following the original 1887 Dubbo Gaol plan.
This project was made possible through the NSW Government’s Restart NSW Cobbora Transition Fund, which was established to create infrastructure that drives economic growth and productivity in the region.
History of wood block roads
The use of wood block roads in Australia dates from 1880 when King Street was the first street to be paved with wood in Sydney.
19th century streets were dusty in dry weather, muddy in the wet, unhygienic from horse excrement, and noisy as steel horse hooves and carriage wheels rattled down busy stone thoroughfares. Wood block roads made from Australian hardwood solved these issues as wood absorbed noise, and when dipped in boiling tar and hammered in place the blocks were remarkably weather-proof. Wood blocks also provided a surface that was easily cleaned, and the blocks were often washed down with disinfectants.
In 1929 the first asphalt road was laid in Sydney, and would soon after replace wood block roads that had degraded badly from the introduction of cars and heavier vehicles.
Dubbo Gaol’s wood blocks are unique, as this type of paving was little used in regional areas. It is thought that wood was used in the Gaol entrance to reduce the noise of horse hooves announcing the Gaol’s entrance gates were opening. Generally wood blocks were laid length ways and hammered close together whereas ours stand on end, and also have a bevelled edge to improve traction.