West Wyalong
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West Wyalong, NSW

Important town on the NSW Central Western Slopes.

Most towns in rural Australia are laid out in a standard grid pattern. West Wyalong is one of the famous exceptions with its wonderfully meandering main street. The two towns of Wyalong and West Wyalong - now effectively joined - started as separate communities. Now they are part of a thriving rural centre servicing the surrounding farmland where wheat, wool, pigs, eucalyptus oil and sawmills all fuel the local economy.

 

Location

West Wyalong is located 491 km west of Sydney (via Yass and Temora), 465 km via Bathurst and Cowra, and is 262 m above sea-level. It is located at the point where the Mid Western meets the Newell Highway.

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Origin of Name

West Wyalong is part of the greater Wiradjuri country which stretches across much of central NSW. The name Wyalong is thought to be a Wiradjuri word of unknown meaning.

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Things to See and Do

Heritage Walk
The Heritage Walk, which takes around 45 minutes, looks at 33 historic buildings in the town. It is an easy way to enter into an experience of what West Wyalong must have been like around the turn of the century. You can download the Heritage Walk from http://blandshire.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/West%20Wyalong%20Heritage%20Walk.pdf

 Green Corridor Cycling-Pedestrian Track
The 4.4-km Green Corridor Walking and Cycling Track runs behind Main Street and Neeld Street heading east from Church Street to Wyalong. It is a pleasant walk or easy cycle being marked poles, painted by local Aborigines, schoolchildren and the elderly. It passes through Barnardo Park, Holland Park, Northcott Street Park and Cooinda Bushland Reserve.

Poppet Head
Located at the Cooinda Bushland Reserve on the road between West Wyalong and Wyalong, the True Blue Poppet Head is a replica of the 21-metre high poppet head at the True Blue Gold Mine. The mine was established in 1894 with a battery and treatment works which yielded 1426 oz (40.42 kg) of gold between 1894-1920. Nearby is a replica of a miner's hut and an unusual piece of sculpture - Hearts of Gold - by a local schoolgirl.

Bland District Historical Museum
The Bland District Historical Museum is located at the Court House in Wyalong and is open from 2.00pm to 5.00pm depending on volunteers. It has a wide range of exhibits relating to the industrial, domestic and Aboriginal history of the district, tel: (02) 6972 2117. Check out http://www.wyalongmuseum.com.au.

Beckett's Pioneer Farm
Beckett's Pioneer Farm, located on Railway Parade, is is a collection of historic buildings from around the district. There is an old chapel, a school, shop, post office, settler's cottage, miner's hut and barn. They have been restored and furnished as they according to the time of construction. The collection is located in Railway Rd, which runs off Bypass Rd in West Wyalong. Visits are by appointment only, tel: (02) 6972 3286.

Aboriginal Artefacts and Other Shops
Aboriginal Artefacts at 76 Main Street is a celebration of Wiradjuri culture. It sells hand-carved emu eggs, paintings, boomerangs and other indigenous artefacts. It is located at 76-78 Main St and open weekdays, tel: (02) 6972 3493.

Wyalong Courthouse and Wyalong's Public Buildings
The Wyalong Courthouse (now the museum) on Neeld Street was designed by the Government Architect, constructed of brick at a cost of £2000, completed in 1902 and was notable for its distinctive semicircular windows and a cupola and spire on top of a hipped roof. It remains in its original state with cedar furnishings. Over the road, also on Neeld Street, are Top Town Tavern (1894), the old post office (1901) , council chambers (1899), Soldiers Memorial and School of Arts building.

 

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Other Attractions in the Area

Manna Mountain
Manna Mountain is 58 km north-east of West Wyalong, just outside the village of Burcher and stands 438m above sea level. It  is an important site for the Wiradjuri people. There are good walking tracks beside rocks that have been cut into when the Wiradjuri used them to sharpen tools.

Lake Cowal
Lake Cowal, which is fed by the Bland, Barmedman, Duck and Back Creeks, is the largest natural lake in NSW covering 23, 300 ha and being about 25 km in length and 9 km across. The lake, which is shallow and can dry up during droughts, is an important waterfowl breeding ground. Bird lovers have identified 172 species around the lake.

 

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History

* The district was originally inhabited by the Wiradjuri people whose lands spread across much of central NSW.

*the explorer John Oxley was the first European in the area. He travelled through in 1817 and, somewhat infamously, is credited with observing that 'from want of timber, grass and water, it will never be inhabited by civilised man'. He was wrong.

* In 1827 the colony's Surveyor-General, Thomas Mitchell, travelled through the region and painted a much more optimistic picture of its potential. By 1833 squatters were settling the district. The named the area 'The Blands', thus Bland Shire Council.

* The district grew slowly for the next 60 years then Joseph Neeld discovered gold in September 1893. By January, 1894 there were 500 miners in the area and by May of that year 12 000 men were digging on the goldfield. The rush quickly died and there were only 4200 by December, 1894. It was not easily accessible gold. The local quartz reefs could only be reached by digging vertical shafts up to 100 m deep and then constructing horizontal branch tunnels. In totality the district yielded 445,700 oz (12,635kg) of gold from 368,203 tons (374,111 tonnes) of ore between 1894 and 1921 when the mines closed.

* The government laid out the town of Wyalong in 1894 but they were too late. The miners had created a settlement to the west which they called 'Main Camp'. It was the district's lifeblood because it had  'White Tank', the only reliable water supply. They were not going to move and so White Tank prospered while Wyalong quietly died. Not surprisingly local businesses moved to White Tank and so, in 1895, West Wyalong was laid out. The meandering nature of the main street follows the route of the original bullock track between the two camps.

* Wyalong became a municipality in 1899 when the council chambers were erected. Around the same time a courthouse, police station, post office and school of arts were added. There was fierce competition between the two towns which led to the amusing compromise of the railway line, which arrived from Temora in 1903, being located in the middle of mallee scrub between Wyalong and West Wyalong. The area became known as Wyalong Central.

* The introduction of cyanide processing which yielded more gold saw the old goldfield tailings reworked in the 1930s.

* Concurrent with the goldrush the large pastoral holdings in the district were broken up and mixed farming developed. This resulted in West Wyalong becoming the largest cereal-growing centre in NSW.

* Eucalyptus oil production began in 1907 and West Wyalong became a major exporter.

* Since the 1970s the two towns have effectively become one. Wyalong has grown towards West Wyalong. In 1994 a bicycle-pedestrian track was completed which linked the two towns.

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Visitor Information

The West Wyalong Visitor Information Centre is located in the Bland Shire Library building in Shire Street. It is open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 9.30 a.m. - noon on Saturday, tel: (02) 6972 2266.

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Useful Websites

A detailed accommodation and eating out guide is available on http://www.visitwestwyalong.com.au which also provides a very detailed history of the local council.

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2 suggestions
  • EVENTS WEST WYALONG organises an annual town festival each October known as ‘In The West’ Festival. Each year a different country is chosen as the focus. In 2012 it was France, last year Sweden. From Friday 17 through Sunday 19 October 2014 the theme is Mexico. Garden Show, Art Exhibit, Workshops, Float Parade, Sports, food, music & dance includes the Friday night Fiesta street party with a roving mariachi band and world record attempts, e.g. most participants in the Mexican Hat Dance, or whip-cracking. Contact Events WW.

    Charles Kingston