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Boggabri, NSW

Quiet rural service town between Narrabri and Gunnedah

Boggabri is a quiet rural service centre located by the Namoi River. It is slowly in decline because of its proximity, only 39 km, to the larger centre of Gunnedah. The surrounding district produces wheat, wool and cotton. Consequently the town is defined by its large grain-holding facilities. The main attractions are a short historic walk through the centre of town; the remarkable rocky outcrop to the north known as Gin's Leap; and the small, but interesting, local museum.

Location

Boggabri, which is 251 m above sea level, is 463 km north-west of Sydney via Scone and 39 km north-west of Gunnedah.

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Origin of Name

It is claimed that the town's name is an Anglicised version of a local Kamilaroi Aboriginal word meaning "the place of many creeks".

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Things to See and Do

Boggabri Heritage Walk
There is a Boggabri Heritage Walk which lists a total of 42 places of interest (many of them are only sites rather than actual buildings) in the centre of Boggabri. It can be downloaded at http://www.visitnarrabri.cfm.predelegation.com/files/uploaded/file/Information%20Leaflets/BOGGABRI%20HERITAGE%20WALK.pdf. The places of greatest interest include:

1a - Museum - 25 Brent Street
The Boggabri Museum is located in Brent Street, two blocks west of the Royal Hotel. It is open Saturday mornings from 9.00 am - 12.30 pm or by appointment, tel: Phillip Haire on (02) 6743 4761. He lives around the corner from the Museum. The present building was completed around 1950 and for many years housed a Wool & Hide dealer.
5 - First Catholic Church
This small wooden building was constructed in 1886 and was the first Catholic Church in the town. It was used as a church and school until 1918. It is located at the north-eastern corner of Laidlaw and Caxton Street.
6 - Post Office
Located at 81 Rees Avenue this site has been the town's post office since 1867. In 1881 the present Post Office was built. It operated as the town's telephone exchange until 1985 when the service was automated.
7 - Court House
The first Court House on this site was built in 1877. This modern Court House was built in 1934 and continued to be used for that purpose until 1974. It is located at 32 Brent Street.
8 - Royal Hotel
Located on the corner of Brent and Laidlaw Street the Royal Hotel was completed in 1909 and remains largely the same as when it was built. Conway's Centennial Hall was erected on the northern side of the hotel and was, for many years, the town's main venue for dances and functions.
12 - Bank of New South Wales
Around 1896, when it was "metalled", the town's main street shifted from Laidlaw to Merton Street which was why, in 1921, the Bank of New South Wales was built on the corner of Merton and Dalton Streets. It continued to serve as a bank until 1958 when it became a newsagency.
17 - Commercial Bank Building
One of the most impressive buildings in Boggabri, 135 Merton Street was built by the Commercial Bank of Sydney in 1926. The bank continued in the building until 1984 when it became the National Bank of Australia.
20 - 134 Merton Street
Built in the 1880s, by 1895 this building was housing the offices of Jacob & Anderson, one of the town's first Stock and Station agents. It still operates as a real estate office.
23a - World War I Monument
Unveiled in 1929 by Lord Stonehaven the Governor General at the time, this granite monument records the 29 men from the area who were killed in the war. It now includes World War II, Korea and Vietnam. It is located on the corner of Merton and Brent Street,
23b - Horse Trough
A reminder of times past, the horse trough on Merton Street was used to water the horses which brought children to the local Primary School.
24 - Isaac Perlman's Store
Located on the corner of Brent and Wee Waa Streets this building has been classified by the National Trust. The interior of the building has changed little since1908 when the drapery and mercery sections were located on the east side.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Gin's Leap
Gin's Leap is a rocky escarpment, 4 km north of the town on the left-hand side of the Narrabri Road. There is a picnic area and an interpretative sign at the site where the Rock Inn once stood. Used as a coaching stopover the Rock Inn was built in the early 1850s before Boggabri existed. There is a very detailed sign which explains: "History of Gin's Leap - As is the case with much of Australia's early history, the flickering details of the Gin's Leap story, have been passed down over the years by word of mouth, and have, of course, varied much in their content.

"The best known story is that a young Aboriginal girl, promised to an elder of her tribe, the Kamilaroi, ran away with a young aboriginal man from another tribe. Hotly pursued by Kamilaroi tribesmen, the lovers jumped to their death from somewhere along the top of the rock.

"The historic Rock Inn, built by Mr. Baldy Adams, was originally to have served the hospital. However in 1854 he changed his plans and it opened as the Rock Inn, Namoi River, an important stopover point for the bullock teamsters and Cobb and Co coaches. The inn was then situated on the northern side of Main Road 72, between the Namoi River and the road and traded until 1875.

"The best remembered operators of the inn were Mr. David Grover (whose descendants still live in the Boggabri district), his wife Maria and family. It is reported that adjoining the Inn also operated a store which was well stocked with all descriptions of drapery, hosiery and grocery of every article for domestic use at the lowest price. The Grover family had a home on the southern side of the now main road, very close to where this sign stands. Parts of an old outside lamp from the Inn are housed in the Historical Museum in Brent Street, Boggabri. The four people buried in the vault on this site are Mrs Russell, her 2 year old son, John James and Mr. David and Mrs. Maria Grover. Mrs. Russell, the 21 year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Grover, and her husband James, conducted an inn at Mungindi. An unfortunate accident occurred involving the handling of bulk spirits in the cellar one evening with them igniting from an open slush lamp of that period. Mrs Russell and her son received fatal burns in the inferno which resulted. The child died on the day of the fire, October, 3rd, 1866. Mrs Russell died 2 days later on October 5th, 1866."

Manilla Road
Located between Gin's Leap and Boggabri, the Manilla Road heads eastwards across the Namoi River via the Iron Bridge (1883). To the left is Barber's Pinnacle and to the right is Barber's Lagoon. A plaque at Barber's Lagoon notes the approximate spot of the hut and stockyards established by escaped convict, George 'The Barber' Clarke, who inhabited this area from 1826-1831, living with the Kamilaroi peoples who, according to rumour, regarded him as an Aborigine returned from the dead. He acquired two Aboriginal wives, underwent body initiation rites and adopted the language, dress and customs of the group.

Large stocks of cattle were taken to the Liverpool Plains for pasturage from 1827 and Clarke turned to cattle rustling. When times were hard he surrendered to the authorities but again fled to be with the Aborigines. He then turned to bushranging, was captured in 1831, escaped, was recaptured, escaped again and was finally recaptured, after which he was marched 210 km to Sydney and transported to Norfolk Island. He was hung in Tasmania for further offences in 1835. Clarke's account of the Namoi River and his tales of an enormous inland sea prompted the acting governor to send Thomas Mitchell on an expedition into the district, thereby opening the area up to settlement. 8 km along the Manilla Road is a road which passes through Leards Forest where the Tarrawonga Mine and the Boggabri Mine operate. There is a public fossicking area where thunder eggs and agate can be found. Before travelling to the area check at the Boggabri Museum, tel: Phillip Haire on (02) 6743 4761.

Dripping Rock
Located 35 km from Boggabri (take the turn onto Manilla Road south of Gin's Leap and turn into Blair Athol Road after 13 km), Dripping Rock is surrounded by melaleucas and is a semi-circular cliff above a small pool. Water falls 50 metres and drips through the sedimentary rock. If there is enough water the pool is ideal for swimming and the area around the pool is perfect for bush picnics and particularly rewarding for birdwatchers.

Pilliga Scrub
The Pilliga Forest, also known as Pilliga Scrub, is a remnant of semi-arid woodland area which covers more than 500,000 ha to the west of Boggabri. Although the area is now dominated by cypress pine (reputedly the largest cypress pine forest in the Southern Hemisphere) it also has over 900 plant species which, inevitably, means it is spectacular in spring and summer and has a rich collection of fauna and flora including colonies of koalas, over 50 varieties of reptiles, squirrel gliders, bettongs and Pilliga mice. It is believed that before the arrival of Europeans the area was lightly timbered. Today the forest is criss-crossed by 2,700 km of roads, many are old Forestry roads. It is an ideal location for bushwalking and birdwatching. Information can also be obtained from the Narrabri Shire Visitor Information Centre, Newell Highway, Narrabri, tel: (02) 6799 6760 - and there is the excellent Pilliga Forest Discovery Centre at Baradine. Check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/pilliga-national-park for the range of activities in the park which include the Sandstone Caves Walking Track and Sculptures in the Scrub.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area was occupied by the Kamilaroi Aboriginal people.

* The explorer John Oxley became the first European to reach the area. In 1818 he noted the 'majestic' Nandewar Ranges from about 70 km to the south.

* The explorer Allan Cunningham explored the Boggabri Plains in 1825.

*  It is known that escaped convict George 'The Barber' Clarke roamed through the area from 1826-1831 and was accepted by the Kamilaroi people. Clarke was living in a bark hut by the Namoi River when Allan Cunningham encountered him during a voyage of exploration in 1827.

* Allan Cunningham's positive account of the Namoi River prompted the authorities in Sydney to send Thomas Mitchell on an expedition into the district in 1831-1832.

* The first squatter in the district was Edward Cox who arrived in 1835. He called his place the Namoi Hut after the building he erected on what is now the hospital hill. His name is on the creek which passes through the town.

* The location became a popular place for teamsters and bullockies and consequently both a store and blacksmith's were established.

* The townsite was officially surveyed in 1859. The surveyor, C. Flide, drew up the street plan at this time.

* Boggabri was formally gazetted in 1860.

* The first land sales in the town occurred at the Police Office in Gunnedah on 31 December, 1861.

* By 1866 the population of Boggabri was about 50.

* A bridge over Cox's Creek was built around 1867.

* A local post office was established in 1870.

* A police station and school were operating by 1873.

* The town's first church building was completed in 1877.

* The railway reached the district in 1882. It was officially opened by Sir John Robertson on 18 July, 1882.

* In 1896 a mob of 3,000 sheep was driven down Laidlaw Street which, at the time, was the main street.

* By the early 1900s the district was a major producer of wool and wheat and had a number of productive timber mills.

* By the early 1900s the district was known as a premier beef, lamb, wheat, barley, corn and cotton producer.

* St Joseph's Church was built in 1939.

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Visitor Information

There is no information centre in Boggabri  but the Narrabri Shire Visitor Information Centre, Newell Highway, Narrabri is open from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm weekdays, and  9.00 am to 2.00 pm on weekends and public holidays, tel: (02) 6799 6760.

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Useful Websites

There is a local website. Check out http://www.boggabri.com.au/Boggabri.

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Got something to add?

Have we missed something or got a top tip for this town? Have your say below.

7 suggestions
  • Trying to find out when Boggabri first had a hospital. I was born in the cottage hospital in 1950, delivered by a Doctor Hearne/ Herne before the days of Doc Prior, but would like to know when it was built.

    Maree Haggerty ( nee Donnelly )
  • For approx. 10 or 15 yrs I have been trying to find the grave of my G.G. John Humphreys..often spelt as Humphries. Records show a John Humphries is buried in Boggabri but there are no dates. He worked with sheep on the Darling Downs Qld. and our last record of him was 1874 when he married in Surat. Can you help ??????

    gary petie
    • Gary
      There are seven (7) Humphries buried in the Boggabri Cemetery.
      The information that I have is:
      Surname: Humphries
      Given Name(s): John
      Birthday: 1850?
      Death/Burial: 11 January 1932
      Age: 81
      Remarks: Father
      Portion: Anglican
      Row: G
      I hope this helps.
      Cheers
      Dave Greatrix
      Boggabri.
      PS. My mother was a Humphries but I don’t think she is related to this linage as she
      came to Australia in 1950.

      Dave Greatrix
  • A Very informative site about Boggabri. Arthur BRADLEY died 2 August 1889 aged 67 years at Binnitri Cottage near Boggabri. Do you know where BINNITRI COTTAGE is please? His wife Margaret BRADLEY died 28 December 1889 at Newington Asylum Sydney and left a will to give money to the Catholic church in Boggabri and to have a railing put around her husband’s grave at Boggabri Catholic Cemetery. Many thanks.

    Marguerita Carey
  • My twin sister (now deceased) and I were born at the cottage hospital in 1949 with the help of ‘Matie Bath’. Our father was Vicar of Boggabri at the time. I just love looking at the pictures of Boggabri and surroundings. I have not been able to return to Boggabri although did visit many years ago when we were young girls. I have lived in the UK since 1969, the only survivor now of my family. In my passport place of birth states Boggabri, I sometimes get asked where is that as if it is a country. I love the knowledge I started in Boggabri..

    Christine Hicklin nee Richards
  • William Dillin marriage to Margaret Ann Patten at Boggabri 1892-1895
    Margaret Ann 1874-1899.
    At that time where would marriages have been recorded and records held?

    Anne Devlin
  • I am undertaking the Watson Family tree and want to locate “T. Watson” Bootmaker in Boggabri in 1800’s. I presume this is Thomas Watson and I am directly related to both John Watson Senior born 1819 and passed 1904 and his son John Watson born 1865 and passed 1923 – both Watsons are buried in Boggabri Cemetery. Hopefully someone may be able to shed a light on “T. Watson” Bootmaker whose shop is mentioned on the Boggabri’s Historic Walk.

    Carrolyn Watson