Originally known as Finnigan's Camp after the prospector who discovered gold nearby in 1871, within a year the settlement had become Charleston Township, and it continued to grow despite near desertion when its inhabitants rushed to the Palmer River Goldfield in 1874 and to the Hodgkinson in 1876. After a slump in the mid-1880s, the township was again a flourishing centre by the mid-1890s, having five hotels, a school and a court of petty sessions.
By the late 1890s base metal prices were high: a number of promising copper deposits were opened up in the Etheridge district at Charleston, Einasleigh and Ortona, and several were acquired by a subsidiary of the Chillagoe Company. This led the company to commence a rail link in 1907 from Almaden to Einasleigh and the Charleston area, which was completed in January 1910. The Etheridge Railway terminated at a new settlement on the other side of the Delaney River. First known as New Charleston, it was renamed Forsayth after the railway's commissioner, James Forsayth Thallon. During the year, all the buildings in Charleston, including the police station and the school, which had previously been at Gilberton, were moved across the Delaney River to Forsayth.
New buildings and services followed the opening of the railway; these included a hospital, a new courthouse and a new school built in 1912, and a public hall built two years later. In 1914 the Chillagoe Smelters were shut down and the town's importance as an ore-loading facility and centre for miners and their families declined as mining activity in the area was scaled back. Forsayth remained the railhead for transport to the west, although plans in the 1930s to extend the railway to connect to the Croydon line did not proceed. From the 1980s, renewed mining activity in the area and increased livestock traffic revived the town. Today Forsayth is a service centre for road transport and regional tourism.
While in Forsayth...
- Visit Caschafor Park to view the Wood Carvings creatively worked into the trees by local artist
Read a classic in the Old Library
- Ride on the Savannahlander Train
- Visit the Hole in the Fence Cafe held every Flying Doctors Day for a delectable country-style morning tea
- Enjoy a game of Hoy (once a month at the CWA Hall)
- Check out the local stories on the signage at Historical Buildings around town