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Barringun, NSW

Tiny, historic town on the border between New South Wales and Queensland.

Before Federation, when the borders between states were controlled by customs officers, places like Barringun, which is located on the New South Wales-Queensland border 111 km north of Bourke and 146 km south of Cunnamulla, were important stopping points with bonded warehouses, hotels and shops servicing travellers crossing from one state to the other. Once Federation occurred and the state borders were removed the towns started to die. The town that was once a stopover point for shearers, drovers, mailmen, swaggies, labourers, adventurers and Cobb & Co coaches became a sleepy village as cars roared through. Today the charm of Barringun is reduced to the hotel, a remnant of a bygone era.


Barringun is located 873 km north west of Sydney near the NSW-Queensland border. It lies 111 km north of Burke and 146 km south of Cunnamulla.


Origin of Name

It has been suggested that Barringun, in the language of the Barranbinya Aborigines, means 'fish die in water' which is plausible given the harshness of the climate in the region.


Things to See and Do

Barringun Hotel
There isn't really anything to do in Barringun because it is nothing more than a pub on the Queensland - New South Wales border. So, have a drink, talk to the few people in the bar, and hope that they have a few funny stories to tell you about life in this lonely outpost where the only visitors are those who are driving through. Mary Crawley, now in her 80s, is the licensee of the pub and has been since she got her Hoteliers License in 1977.
In the Outback magazine in 2004 the Bourke poet, Andrew Hull, wrote of the hotel: "The guest register at Tattersalls Hotel, Barringun, on the New South Wales- Queensland border, makes for good reading. If you care to take a look, you will note names that include the famous, like Russell Crowe, the semi–famous, like Simon Westaway, and a host of everyday travellers. All are linked by the uniform nature of their comments, as almost all mention hospitality, with superlatives like 'wonderful', 'marvellous', 'fantastic' and 'inspiring'. More remarkable still is the fact that the vast majority of comments mention family, and use adjectives like 'warm', 'friendly', 'welcoming' and 'intelligent'."
In 2017 it was reported that Mary Crawley, aged 93, had decided to retire and sell the pub and the 87 ha around it. The report in the Sydney Morning Herald noted: "The woman believed to be Australia’s oldest publican has announced plans to sell her hotel – the “last pub in New South Wales” – and retire after running it for 40 years. Mary Crawley, 93, has been behind the bar at the Tattersalls Hotel in Barringun, a tiny town one kilometre from the Queensland border, since 1977. The remote pub, about 130 kilometres north of Bourke, plays host to a steady stream of travellers from both sides of the border. The sale is being run by McKimm Real Estate director Adam Crawley, who is Mary’s grandson and who grew up in the hotel.
“It was a pretty unique experience growing up in a pub like that, hanging around with a lot of shearing teams and truck drivers. You get some pretty interesting yarns out of them,” Mr Crawley said.
“My grandparents bought it in 1977 and raised the last of their kids there. A myriad of the grandkids have lived there over the years. It was a family home as well as a hotel.”



* Prior to European settlement people from the Barranbinya Aboriginal language group moved through the area.

* The first European to travel through the area was Charles Sturt who, in 1828 accompanied by Hamilton Hume, reached the Darling River about 70 km south of Barringun.

* In 1835 Sir Thomas Mitchell travelled down the Darling although he did not get as far north as Barringun.

* As a result of these early explorers pastoralists moved into the area and slowly it began to take up land.

* In 1859 Captain W. R. Randall sailed the Gemini up the Darling River from South Australia to Bourke. Immediately Bourke became the transport centre for the whole of south west Queensland and western New South Wales and towns like Barringun became conduits for the wool from western Queensland which was taken by bullock teams to the Bourke Port.

* In 1878 the Tattersalls Hotel was built.

* By 1883 the town had reached a size where a Court of Petty Session was created. It was closed down in 1933.

* In 1889 the poet Will Ogilvie travelled to Barringun in a Cobb & Co coach. He used to drink at the Tattersall Hotel with Breaker Morant.

* By 1894, only six years before Federation, the Australian Handbook could report that Barringun was: "A border township with post, telegraph, money order station and Government Savings Bank ... Mode of conveyance per coach to Bourke. 90 miles thence per rail. There are two hotels and a customs station on the Queensland side of the border. The buildings on the New South Wales side comprise a bonded warehouse, post and telegraph offices, two hotels (Royal Mail and Queensland), a branch of the Commercial Bank, a brewery, two butcher's shops, a few private cottages, a court house and gaol and a public school. Average attendance - 30. Population about 180."

* In 1895 the Royal Mail Hotel burnt down.

* Today the town has one pub and a population of less than ten. The Tattersalls Hotel, the correct name for the Barringun Pub, stands on the western side of the highway.


Visitor Information

The Barringun Pub can help. Otherwise check out the Bourke Visitor Information Centre, Kidman Way, Bourke, tel: (02) 6872 1321.



There is no accommodation in Barringun.


Useful Websites

There is no website providing information about the town.

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30 suggestions
  • Loved reading about your special town. Doing family research and wanted to check up on Edwin Jackson who was (?) the Licensee about 1900. His granddaughter still living – in Canberra. Would love to find out any info. for her ASAP. She is currently handwriting the family story. Edwin & Janet Jackson went on to the Royal Exchange Hotel in Cunnamulla after they left Barringun. Would you be kind enough to respond with any info. from that era.

    Glenda Lister
    • Dear Glenda,
      Thanks for the post. I did have quite a lot of information about Barringun but I gave it to the local Library and a couple of years ago they destroyed it. Not surprisingly I am not talking to the Librarian. It was outrageous. The entry was written from notes I had taken some years ago but the detail is no longer available. I would be inclined to see what the people at the Bourke Public Library have. Check out http://www.bourkelibrary.com.au/. Best wishes, Bruce Elder

      Bruce Elder
  • Research led me here after learning that my GGF (John Thomas Lambert) was NSW Postmaster at Barringun between 24 March 1884 and 22 May 1888. He took over from Alexander Murchison Duncan and was relieved from this post by David Broadfoot. This was his first appointment as a postmaster. After this he became postmaster at Moulamein. Is there any related information about this building still available? Thanks

    Brad Cook
    • Hi Brad, There is very little information about Barringun. It really is so tiny. My suggestion is that you check out the Historical Society in Bourke. They might have something. I will be writing up Bourke in the next few weeks.I would also what the people at the Bourke Public Library have. Check out http://www.bourkelibrary.com.au/. Best wishes, Bruce Elder

      Bruce Elder
    • G’day Bruce,
      I have a letter written on the 5.2.1944 by J.T. Lambert to the Postmaster Postmistress at Barringun. The letter states that he had been Postmaster at Barringun about 50 years previous and was asking for information about the town and people from the time.
      Graham Nott.

      Graham Nott
    • Hi Brad,

      My ancestors owned the Rose Hill property in Barringun, during the time your GFF was in the town, and I have some early photos of Barringun, including the Post Office which I would be happy to share with you. Not sure how I would be able to communicate with you though outside this chat site to get the info to you. I already have a transcript your GFF’s letters and map sent to Annie. My family was also related to Annie Lack by a marriage to one of her aunts (so a distant connection), but by Annie & Jim’s time in Barringun we had moved away. Bill H

      Bill Hocking
  • My grandfather, Edward Wood, ran the Mungunyah property between Cunnamulla and Bourke until 1897. My mother told many tales of their experiences in the region including at Barringun, floods on the Darling and of droughts and issues with the Aboriginals during the 1894 ticket of leave program initiated in the depression.

    JM Lancaster
  • I wish I had read this before we passed through Barringun on Nov 15. I love reading about the history of little outback towns like Barringun but most of the time any historic information is not available. I am most impressed.

    Thanks for your kind words, Celia.

    Celia Ceckitt
  • Ken and Elvie Douglass have called in a couple of times to have a chat to Mary . We called on August 19th 2016 and were so happy to see Mary fit and well at 92. what a wonderful lady.

    Ken and Elvina Douglass Portland Victoria
  • My grandmother, Honora Allen, was born at Barringun in 1884. Her father, Thomas Allen, a good friend of the poet Will Ogilvie, became the licensee of the Belalie Hotel further south towards Bourke. I have no idea why or how he ended up in Barringun as he was born in Moonee Ponds in Melbourne. I can’t imagine where the family lived since there doesn’t seem to have been much there at the time. Just another one of life’s mysteries I suppose.

    As it was a border crossing at the time (there was no Federation and NSW and Queensland were separate states) I suspect there was an active community to deal with people crossing the border. Fascinating stuff. Thanks Ann.

    Ann Wyatt
    • Hi Ann,

      Will Ogilvie was good friends with Breaker Morant and they used go riding together (somewhat recklessly) in the vicinity of Barringun.

      Will wrote a delightful poem about Barringun, as he experienced it at that period. The poem is named “Barringun”. He wrote another about his friend “Breaker Morant” and their time together there. I have a transcript of both poems. Bill H

      Bill Hocking
  • I too loved reading about Barringun. I have been writing up Family History also. My great grandparents were married in Bourke 1873. Great grandfather worked along the Darling. He was, Wiliam Jonathan Gawthorn, the Bailiff from Bourke. He was robbed of £92 in a place called Yellow Waterholes in 1878. Do you have any idea where this place is? His daughter and her husband Charles Cawdell Smith had Randwick Downs in the 1930’s. They were great ‘socialites’ and loved the races. I would love to find any reference to this family. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
    Rosemary Owens near Oakey in Queensland.

    Rosemary Owens
  • Just passed Barringun and stayed at the caravan park which offers powered and unpowered sites as well as overnight cabins – maybe not 5 star accommodation but the food was good as was the company by hosts Jan and Darrel.

    Matteo Chessa
  • Sadly, it’s no longer there. What a loss.

    Margaret and Ross Walker
  • You forgot to mention the Bush Tucker Inn, which is a Roadhouse offering fuel, good tucker and affordable powered caravan sites. Although the word “Inn” is used, I don’t think that they sell alcohol. The Roadhouse is situated on the east side of the highway between Bourke and Cunnamulla, heading north.

    Dennis Greenwell
  • Do you know the names of the first few publicans at the Tattersalls Hotel? I think a gt gt grandfather of mine may have been one.

    Judith Slaughter
  • I was there in 1964, the owner then was Jim Lack, the pub was the original homestead of the Belalee property which in those days ran from its current location to the Queensland border.
    Jimmy was a real character. If you asked him if he had a cold beer he would send you on to Enngonia or Bourke, as he considered it an insult as he had spent a fortune on getting refrigeration to keep the beer cold. I had quite a few “cold beers” there with some locals in 1964. Jim Lack was one of them. I think he may have spelt his surname, Lach.

    Jim Toner
  • Researching the Watkins family who came from the area back in the late 1900’s.
    Planning a visit so wonder if you had any helpful information.
    One of them did have a pub at one time.

    Noele Watkins
    • Hi Noele,

      Just picked up on your post. You referred to a Watkins family in the late “1990s”, or did you mean the Watkins family who owned a pub there in the late 1800s. If so, I believe they may have had a daughter named Daisy, who would have been in her 20s in 1908? Bill H

      Bill Hocking
  • May I please refer to the second and third points in the ‘History’ section above. Upon consulting the 5th edition of the UBD/Gregorys NSW Road Atlas I find that the distance from Barringun is stated at 162 km (in a northerly direction). As the Darling River upstream from Bourke is in a generally east-north-easterly direction from Bourke, the 70 km distance stated would seem to be somewhat misleading. The third point could possibly be misunderstood as it could imply that, (when reading the overall context of the article), that the Darling River’s course may be towards Barringun

    Lachlan Turner
  • Hello, My great uncle John Joseph “Joey” Campbell was a police constable, and was transferred there late 1924. Any info anyone could provide on him and his time there would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards, Scott.Kingman

    Glen Innes Examiner, Thursday 30 October 1924
    Constable J. J. Campbell, who has just returned from his annual leave, received word of his transfer to Barringun, near Bourke, and will take up his new duties there in about two weeks time.

    Scott Kingman
  • Thomas Dierke (licensee) situation of the house was Barringun. Name of hotel was the Royal Mail Hotel in Barringun. He had paid the fee 20th May 1895 till 19th May 1896 in advance. As per ‘The Argus’ (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1957) on Friday 2nd Aug 1895…..
    Large Fire at Barrigun states Dierke’s Royal Mail Hotel & Hymann & Co’s Commercial Store were destroyed with the lossestimated between £5,000 to £6,000.

    Barbara Billington
  • I do believe there use to be a race course here

    Lee Loftus
  • I read the comment from Bill H re. Rose Hill property, Barringun. I visited Rosehill in 1972 with my friend for some shooting. I met Ted Staggs and his son, (name?) and had some chats. They were very nice to us. Ted didn’t like long hair on men and his son told us he had had a gun accident, an interesting story, so fond memories of those two gents. I cannot remember if we went to the pub though. D McLean

    david mclean
  • Hi Bill Hocking
    Annie Lack was my aunt (Bridget her mother) so I believe we share ancestry through the King sisters.

    Rob Miller
  • We just had the best time at the caravan park, yes powered sites and hot water showers, flushing toilets. We mwt with Darryl and his mate Graham and had a tipple or two. Stories galore. Pet animals of all kinds. Ihad the Barringun Burger, full of protien and no salad. A speciality. Of the stopover. Lol. I would stop there again.

    Bronwyn Longhurst
  • Chasing accommodation for 27th one night pet friendly for 4 adults please contact me on 0477549044 preferably 3 rooms

    Carol Gribble