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Bombala, NSW

Small town in south-eastern NSW which describes the region as Platypus Country.

Bombala is a small rural service centre in the south east corner of New South Wales on the Monaro Highway between Cooma and Cann River. It is a quiet and peaceful town on the banks of the Bombala River and it is known for its icy conditions in winter. The agricultural area around the town is a mixture of sheep (fine wool), beef cattle and timber. The local rivers are recognised as some of the state's best trout fishing destinations and are home to substantial communities of platypus


Bombala, which is 747 m above sea level, is located 487 km south-west of Sydney and 88 km south of Cooma.


Origin of Name

It is probable that 'bombala', a word from the Ngarigu Aborigines who lived in the area prior to European settlement, can be translated as 'a place where the waters meet'.


Things to See and Do

A Walk Back in Time in Bombala
The best way to explore Bombala's historic buildings is to visit the Platypus Visitor Information Centre and get "A Walk Back in Time in Bombala" which contains information about 43 places of historic interest around the town and a map which provides directions to the local Court House; the Bombala and District Historic Machinery Shed; the School of Arts; the Railway Station; the National Australia Bank (1871), located on the corner of Caveat Street and the Monaro Highway, which was the former CBC Bank and was designed by J. F. Hilly; and the Literary Institute on Caveat Street, which dates from 1865 - today it is still elegant but, sadly, in a state of disrepair. Further along Caveat Street from the Literary Institute there are number of houses which date from the 1860s.

Olympia Cinema Facade
Entering the town from Cooma the visitor crosses the bridge and is immediately struck by the distinctive Olympia Cinema which dates from 1918. It is a modest and distinctive example of the ornate style of rural cinema which was popular at that time. Note particularly the pressed metal facade. Behind the facade the building is made of timber. It was originally known as the Cinema Theatre.

Rix Wright's Sculpture The Shearer
Near the Olympic Cinema, in the park beside the bridge, is a sculpture of a shearer. It is the work of Rix Wright, a man from Delegate whose most famous sculpture is the Hand of Fate at the National Timber Workers Memorial. Wright was the son of Hilda Rix Nicholas, a well known painter who married Edgar Wright and settled in the area. Rix attended Geelong Grammar and went on to become a poet, pastoralist and surveyor.

Town Lookout
The attractiveness of the Bombala Valley can be observed by travelling south along Caveat Street to the Endeavour Reserve. In the reserve there is a lookout which provides panoramic views across the town.


Other Attractions in the Area

Platypus Viewing Platform and Platypus Reserve
The town claims that the local rivers have the highest density of platypus in Australia. Still the creatures are very shy and are usually only spotted at dawn and dusk and, just to add to the challenge of seeing one, they are capable of staying under water for 14 minutes. Such is the confidence of the local community that they have established a viewing platform at the Platypus Reserve which is located 4.5 km out of town on the Delegate Road. Follow Maybe Street through town.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was inhabited by the Ngarigo Aborigines.

* The first Europeans had arrived in the Bombala district by the early 1830s.

* In 1833 Captain Ronald Campbell established a large run in the district.

* By 1848 Captain Campbell owned nearly 6,500 hectares which he named 'Bombalo'.

* By 1849 Bombala had its own post office.

* In 1850 a regular mail service was running between Bombala and Eden.

* It was around this time that a street plan was drawn up and Bombala quickly gained the reputation as one of the prettiest towns in the Monaro.

* By 1856 Bombala's population was nearly twice that of Cooma and a number of substantial public and commercial buildings had been constructed.

* The town continued to grow and by the early 1890s two bridges had been constructed over the Bombala River.

* In 1891 Bombala was created as a borough

* In 1903 Bombala was proposed by King O'Malley as a possible site for the new Federal Capital. It was seen as being halfway between Melbourne and Sydney.

* The local citizens agitated for many years for the construction of a railway line. It eventually arrived in 1921.

* In 1986 the railway was closed.

* Today the town is a small rural centre.

* In 2020 serious bushfires surrounded the town and closed the Monaro HIghway between the town and Cann River.


Visitor Information

Platypus Visitor Information Centre, Railway Park, tel: (02) 6458 4620


Useful Websites

Check out https://highcountryonline.com.au/bombala-delegate-nimmitabel/ for useful additional information.

Got something to add?

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

7 suggestions
  • That the sealed entrance to the Endeavour Lookout is via Burton Street. The Caveat Street entrance is unsealed. The road is not suitable for caravans.

  • I visit my daughter and her partner in Bibbenluke quite often. Her partner Steven Fleming grew up in Bibbenluke with parents Jim and June Fleming. I enjoy visiting the country. Views are beautiful and love to enjoy a cup of coffee from the local bakery in Bombala. Please don’t let this beautiful town get lost .

    Rose Bouzas
  • I plan to spend one month in Bombala next summer. Is there any places to swim in one of your rivers?

    Kenneth Thiele
  • I recently visited Bombala just about a week before the States lockdown. I took a number of photos of old buildings in Maybe st but can’t find any historical information about the buildings. IS there somewhere where historical information on the buildings in bombala is kept?

    Glen Knight
  • What is the origin behind street names Maybe and Caveat?

  • I lived in Caveat Street as a child in what is known as the White House. It is still there to this day. It would be one of the oldest if not the oldest house in Bombala. It was owned by my mother’s family the Whites. I have great memories living there. My mother’s name was Betty Webster and my fathers name was George. Yhey were very well known in the area. I hope that the house stays part off the history of Bombala. It’s a great little town.

    Bradley webster