The Catholic Parish of St Michael’s Dunedoo, Coolah, Elong Elong and Mendooran celebrated their centenary with Mass and a community get-together. Fr Augustine welcomed everyone to the event and a parish representative from Duneddo, Coolah and Mendooran cut the centenary cake together.
Bishop O’Farell established Dunedoo Parish in 1922. It became the parish centre for the western region and the area that included Coolah, Cobbora, Tallaway, Mendooran, Elong Elong, Leadville, Turill, Neilrex and Cainbil. Fr. J.B. Howard was the first Parish Priest.
Originally, Coolah was part of Merriwa Parish. It was transferred, first to Coonabarabran, 1892-1905, then to Gulgong, 1905-1922, then to Dunedoo, 1922-1956, before becoming a Parish in its own right in 1956. With the declining number of priests, Coolah rejoined Dunedoo in the 1990s.
The small locality of Elong Elong grew up around the wheat silos on the Dubbo-Merrygoen railway. The village was not settled until about 1916. In the early days, when it belonged to Gulgong Parish, Mass was said in the home of Dan O’Leary. It was a foundation station of Dunedoo parish, with a small active Catholic community. Through their efforts, the pretty weatherboard church of St. Therese of The Child Jesus was built in 1929-1930, when Fr. Wisely was in charge.
Mendooran is the oldest settlement in the Castlereagh, dating from the 1840s. In the early years, the priest from Coonamble Parish used to visit and then it became a station of Coonabarabran. In 1922, Mendooran and Coolah became part of Dunedoo Parish. On 1 July 1914, the foundation stone of St. Mary’s was laid by Bishop Dunne. That day there was Mass in the old weatherboard hall. The church was a simple timber building with a small Sacristy attached. In 1964, Mendooran became a separate Parish, with Binnaway and Neilrex as its stations. With the dwindling population and the shortage of priests, the Parish was suppressed, and returned to Dunedoo, in 1973.
Today, Dunedoo has three Stations parishes: Coolah, Elong Elong and Mendooran.