"THE hairs on my legs stood up straight away. It was one hell of an explosion."
Graham Smith knew something big had happened when an earthquake hit Cumnock on Thursday night.
The event occurred at 8.02pm and measured 3.3 on the Richter scale.
Earthquake monitoring equipment at the federal government's Geoscience Australia facility in Canberra determined the epicentre was 20 kilometres north-west of Molong.
Tremors were felt as far away as Dubbo and Orange. There were no reports of damage.
Mr Smith, the proprietor of the Cumnock General Store, was sitting in his kitchen when he felt movement and noise.
"I went outside to make sure things were still standing," he said.
"I was expecting to see a big limb had fallen off a tree. It was all over pretty quickly."
Mr Smith said the earthquake was the talk of the town yesterday morning.
"People were coming into the store sharing their experiences," he said.
Molong police officer Senior Constable Daniel La Velle felt a shudder when he was watching television.
"I thought a train was going through town," he said.
"It was my first earthquake experience."
Rebecca Crisp of Wellington "wondered what was going on” when the table shook.
Curra Creek resident Shani Lewsam felt the earth move and her husband thought a big truck had rushed past.
Alf Cantrell from Yeoval experienced "three claps of thunder".
QUAKES COMMON IN REGION
By NADINE MORTON and HEATHER CROSBY
THE earthquake that struck near Molong on Thursday night was common, with the central west regularly recording quakes.
At 8.02pm a magnitude 3.3 earthquake shook an area 20 kilometres north-west of Molong and the tremor was felt up to 31 kilometres away.
While initially reported by Geoscience Australia as occurring 20 kilometres below the earth’s surface, it was later revised to having struck right at the surface.
“It was widely felt because it was shallow,” seismologist Dr Jonathan Bathgate said.
Molong resident Don Mahoney said the loud noise of the quake sounded like an accident.
“It almost felt like a vehicle had collided with the house,” he said.
“It was quite a loud noise.”
Mr Mahoney and his wife Carol were at their Belgravia Road property when the earthquake happened.
“A few things rattled but nothing came off,” he said.
The earthquake’s sound in Manildra also had Sharni Whiteley thinking there had been a crash.
“It sounded like an accident,” she said.
“You could hear things shaking on the shelves.”
Mr Bathgate said the earthquake was felt widely across the central west.
"In geoscientific terms, it was a relatively small event, but large enough to be felt over quite a distance,” he said.
“It would have presented as a rumbling sound or bang rather than shaking.
"Earthquakes of this type are quite common across Australia. A 2.1 magnitude quake was reported in the central west in August last year.
“In 1932 there was a 4.5 magnitude quake within 100km radius of Thursday's event."
Mr Bathgate said more than 100 quake reports had been received by Geoscience Australia by early yesterday morning.
"We were expecting notifications to flow in throughout the day and in following days. We like to receive information from the public. It helps us determine how widely earthquakes are felt,” he said.