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Boorowa, NSW

Quiet rural service centre.

Boorowa is possibly the most overtly Catholic town in Australia. Not only was its handsome St Patrick's the first Roman Catholic Church built west of the Great Dividing Range but the church boasts a particularly beautiful stained glass window, added in 1881, which includes an image of Daniel O'Connel, Liberator of Ireland, below an image of St Patrick. Today, with tree-lined streets and much recent and impressive beautification, it is a model of a small and charming country town.

Location

Boorowa is located south-west of Sydney and can be reached either via Goulburn and Yass (a distance of 329 km via the Hume Highway) or via Bathurst and Cowra (a distance of 381 km). It is south of Cowra and north of Yass.

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Origin of Name

In the 1860s the town's name was Burrowa. No one is sure what this meant although some believe it to be a Wiradjuri word meaning 'turkey'. Over time the spelling changed to Boorowa.

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Things to See and Do

The Town History
The best starting point is the brochure - "Follow the Shamrock Trails around Historic Boorowa" - which is available at the Visitor Information Centre. It lists a staggering 42 places of interest on three trails around the town. Not only is each building described but they also have informative brass plaques.

Court House
The local Court House, now the Visitor Information Centre, is located on the corner of Marsden and Queen Streets. It was designed by the Colonial Architect and completed in 1884. The first case was heard by Judge Forbes in 1886 and it continued to operate as a Court House until 1988. Visitors should note the distinctive double-height court room and gracious Roman arches. It is Boorowa's most impressive building.

St Patricks Catholic Church
This is a remarkable rural church. It was the first Roman Catholic Church west of the Great Dividing Range, was completed in 1875 and officially opened in 1877. The church features outstanding stained glass windows depicting Saints Patrick, Brigid and Columba which were imported from Ireland and installed in 1881. The church also has a high altar made from imported Italian marble.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Young
Visitors eager to explore the gold prospecting and mining history of the region should visit Young, known at the time as Lambing Flats, which was one of the most important gold mining towns in the 1860s.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the district was inhabited by the Wiradjuri people.

* as early as 1827 the area was settled by squatters. Most notable among the early Europeans were cousins Roger Corcoran and Ned Ryan from Clonoulty in Tipperary. They had been sentenced to transportation after burning down a hospital housing a garrison of British troops. The cousins arrived in the Boorowa area as 'ticket of leave' men and played an important part in encouraging friends and relatives to move to the area. Ned Ryan was partly responsible for the building of St Patrick's. Today Clonoulty and Boorowa are twinned towns.

* The municipality formally came into existence in 1850.

* A famous local story, highlighting the town's deep Irish connections, comes from the late 19th century when a Catholic nun was asked if she had ever been to Ireland and she replied "No. But I've been to Boorowa."

* In the 1860s when gold was found in the area Boorowa became infamous as part of the area where the bushrangers - Frank Christie known as 'Darkie' Gardiner, Ben Hall, Johnny Gilbert, John Dunn and John O'Malley - used the local roads and rampaged across an area from Young (Lambing Flats) to Jugiong, Collector, Marulan and Gundagai. There is a story of how Ben Hall's gang held up Webb & Crego's Store in Boorowa and stole some clothes so they could update their outfits.

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Visitor Information

The local Visitor Information Centre is located in the beautiful Old Courthouse Building on Marsden Street, tel: 02 6385 3885

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Eating

The Bakery, named "Superb Bakery" after the Superb Parrot which lives in the area, in the main street is popular with the local community for both breakfast and lunch.

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Useful Websites

The local council has a website - http://www.boorowa.nsw.gov.au - which does provide information about both the Shamrock Trails and other local attractions including the Irish Woolfest. An excellent additional source of information is https://www.visithilltopsregion.com.au which covers Young, Jugiong, Boorowa and Harden Murrumburrah.

 

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Got something to add?

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

22 suggestions
  • Do you have a list of the early Irish landholders? We are looking to see if there were any surnames ‘Welby’ in the area before 1850. It would be wonderful if there was a link to the local historical society or names associated with the area (besides the ones already mentioned)…

    Susan Roberts
    • Hi Susan,
      I think the obvious starting point would be the excellent Visitor Information Centre. It is associated with the local historical society. I feel confident they will have information about the early residents. You can write to them at the Boorowa Visitor Information Centre, Marsden Street, Boorowa or ring (02) 6385 3885. Hope that helps.

      Bruce Elder
  • Hi
    Just letting you know that the first St Patrick’s church was erected in 1855 (the remains of which can be seen in Court Street), and the first resident priest was Father Thomas O’Neill appointed 1865. We have had ancestors who were married in the old St Patricks R/C between 1850’s-1870’s The new St Patrick’s Church of today is located in Queen St and was first open for worship in 1877. It is a beautiful church and worth a visit.

    Marg
  • I think the bakery is named after the ‘Superb Parrot’ commonly found in the Boorowa area.
    The bakery is still ‘superb’ though.

    Russell Grainger
  • The name Superb is not really amusing as it refers to the rare Superb Parrot that can be found, if you have the luck of the Irish, in the surrounding region. There are brochures for any bird watchers at the Visitor Information Centre. There is also a very nice mosaic of Superb Parrots on the footpath near the entrance to the Visitor Information Centre

    Faye
    • I am suitably chastened. This is the second message to point out that the Superb Bakery – which did sound to me as though it had tickets on itself – is actually named after the Superb Parrot. So my phrase “amusingly named Superb Bakery” is now replaced with “named Superb Bakery after the Superb Parrot which lives in the area”. That’s much better.

      Bruce Elder
  • Hi, I am doing some family history. I found ‘Aboriginals from Burrowa’ mentioned a daughter named Julia Welby (my g.g.grandmother) who was born in 1840 and baptised 1851. I also found this info below and was wondering if there is any connection..
    Family Notices 1843 MARRIAGE.
    On the 13th instant, at Yass, by the Rev.W. Lisle, Arthur E. Welby, Esq., third son of Sir William E. Welby, Bart., of Denton Hall, Lincolnshire, to Julia Catherine, fifth daughter of George Macdonald, Esq., J.P.,

    Daphne Placho
    • The short answer is: I don’t know. The longer answer is that the people in Boorowa at the local Visitor Information Centre in the Old Courthouse Building on Marsden Street, tel: 02 6385 3885 should be able to point you in the direction of someone who does know … or at least knows how to check the information. Good luck.

      Bruce Elder
  • Hi there,
    I am trying to put some information with my photos. Would you be able to send or put the in an email the Shamrock brochure with this information please.
    Thankyou
    Deidre Bell

    Deidre Bell
  • I am looking for any information on the Thorn family who were in the area in the late 1800’s. My Great grandmother, Elizabeth Delilah Jones married William C Thorn here in 1891. Her father Barthy Jones also has some connections with the area.
    Thanks
    Paula

    If anyone can help, please contact Paula Duggan at paulaaduggan@yahoo.com.au

    Paula Duggan
  • My great-great-grandfather, William Peter Twist, formed a business partnership with Peter Ryan and in May 1878 had commenced manufacturing cordial in a stone building on the corner of Campbell and Farm Sts, Boorowa. These streets would have been new as apparently streets were not formed until 1874. This building, i believe, has also been used as a bakery. He returned to Yackandandah, Vic
    My grandfather, William Joseph Twist was born in Boorowa in 1880. He left Boorowa and travelled to Milparinka where he met and married my grandmother, Sarah Alice Sullivan, in 1905.

    dorothy duke
  • I am looking for information on the descendent of Denis and Bridget Burns who lived in Boorowa between 1870 and 1930 approx. They had six children William, John Thomas, Walter, Annie, Amy and Henri. The family moved to Hamilton, Newcastle during the 1920s.
    Please contact Louise at louise4715@hotmail.com

    Louise Waterhouse
  • I am doing my family history and it seems that my great grandfather &great grandmother were married and lived in the town. They were William Coen and Margaret Hammersley. If you have any information please contact me.

    Debbie
  • The Irish “Boorowa Hotel” has a Shamrock Cafe and a Restaurant with a comprehensive menu and wine list that is very well priced. The cafe` is open from 8am until 3pm and the restaurant is open for lunch from 12pm – 3pm and 6pm until 9pm Seven days a week!
    In the evening there is a ‘Finer Dining’ menu that thrills most guests, there are also ‘Take Away’ meals are also available.
    Accommodation is available for you to enjoy the quintessential Australian hotel experience, there are 13 rooms and can sleep approximately 40 guests!
    The extensive veranda is a joy to relax in the early evening with amazing westerly sunsets!
    The Boorowa Hotel is known as a very friendly ‘family’ orientated hotel and does not have gambling machines, a pleasant change!
    For the accommodation you can book online or phone direct on (02) 6385-3000
    boorowa.pub@gmail.com

    Michael Ward
  • My great great grandfather John Silk and his wife Mary (Conners) lived in Boorowa in the later part of their lives and are were buried there in the late 1800s. They are not listed in the local cemetery I can find online. It seems there were many other Silks there at the time. Anyone have any clues or knowledge of the Silks in Boorowa?

    Fran Silk
  • Where’s the Irish wool festival?

    cassie
    • Hi guys,
      I was given a book on the history of Boorowa about 10 years ago, I lent to a relative who passed away. needless to say I didn’t get it back. It had a lot of information about the Rolfe family in it. Does anyone know any of their history in Boorowa please or maybe you might know of the book.

      lee Rolfe
  • There is a plaque in the park commemorating children that have died. My question is how come so many and what caused there denise at so young age?

    jeffery mcdonald