Forbes is a town in the Central West of New South Wales, Australia, located on the Newell Highway between Parkes and West Wyalong. At the 2006 census, Forbes had a population of 6,954. Forbes is probably named after Sir Francis Forbes, first Chief Justice of NSW.
It is on the banks of the Lachlan River. It is above sea-level and about west of Sydney. The district is a cropping area where wheat and similar crops are grown. Nearby towns and villages include Calarie, Parkes, Bedgerebong, Bundabarrah, Corradgery, Daroobalgie, Eugowra, Ooma North and Paytens Bridge.
The area was occupied by the Wiradjuri people prior to European settlement. John Oxley passed through in 1817 during one of the first inland expeditions. Oxley named the site Camp Hill. He was unimpressed with the clay soil, poor timber and swamps and he concluded, it is impossible to imagine a worse country. The first settlers moved into the district in 1834.
Gold was discovered by Harry Stephens, also known as "German Perry", in June 1861. Initially about 30,000 people moved to the goldfields, but by 1863 this had declined to about 3,500 because of the difficult mining conditions.
The goldfields were originally named "Black Ridge", and the name "Forbes" celebrating Sir Francis Forbes was declared from Sydney as the result of a possible government administrative error, it is said that the name was meant for the town now known as "Hill End" between Orange and Mudgee, New South Wales where gold was discovered around a similar time. Gold was initially found in the area known as Halpin's Flat. The Albion Hotel, once a Cobb and Co. stage coach stop, had tunnels situated underneath which were used during the gold rush to convey gold and money to and from the banks to minimise the chance of theft. The Albion Hotel burnt down on February 10, 2009, losing years worth of history and memorabilia.
One of Australia's most renowned bushrangers, Ben Hall, was shot dead in gun battle about to the north-west of town on 5 May 1865. Hall and his gang were famous for stealing of gold and £3,700 from the nearby town of Eugowra in 1862. He is buried in the Forbes Cemetery.
Kate Kelly, the sister of bushranger Ned Kelly, lived in the town. She drowned in Lake Forbes while saving an Aboriginal child during a flood in 1898 and was found in a lagoon of the Lachlan River, just outside Forbes. She is buried in Forbes Cemetery.