The Parkes area remained relatively unsettled until 1862 when the discovery of gold led to a hastily erected 'canvas' town known as "Currajong" which accommodated thousands of hopeful gold seekers. A further discovery of gold in 1871 at the nearby Bushman's Gold Mine helped the district to become one of the richest gold producing areas in the colony.
In 1873 the then Prime Minister of New South Wales, Sir Henry Parkes, showed his interest in the district by visiting the diggings. On December 1, 1873 the name of the settlement was changed from Bushmans to Parkes in honour of the great statesman. Sir Henry Parkes visited Parkes in 1887 and gave the town the Fontana Bust, which is displayed at Parkes Shire Council. In that same year Parkes changed the name of its main street to 'Clarinda' - lady Parkes' christian name.
As mining diminished in importance, the plough, the combine and the harvester became the new symbols of progress.
Parkes Shire contains some of the richest and most productive agricultural and grazing land in New South Wales. Wheat, barley, canola, oats, oilseeds and winter legumes are grown annually. Fields of canola can be seen flowering in magnificent blankets of yellow during late August/ September. Peak Hill was in fact the site of Australia's first public wheat silo in 1918. Sheep grazing lands are predominant in Parkes Shire, producing significant volumes for both the wool and meat markets.
For more information about Parkes' links with the gold rush era, see the links below: