Historic town on the old Hume Highway.
Today Breadalbane has been bypassed and consequently is little more than a few houses scattered along the old Hume Highway. There was a time, when the Hume Highway wound its way across the Cullerin Range, when trucks would roar through Breadalbane on their way between the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne. But it had not been an important stopover point for nearly a centry and as such was a tiny centre with nothing more than a pub, a couple of churches and few buildings.
Breadalbane is a tiny village of the Hume Freeway 221 km south-west of Sydney.^ TOP
Origin of Name
Breadalbane takes its name from a region of the Scottish Highlands. It is a name associated with the Clan Campbell.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
Thomas Byrne's Grave - Was He Really A Friend of Ben Hall?
An Interesting study in the complexities of history.
When I first wrote this entry I recorded - because the information was widely available - the story of Thomas Byrne who it was widely believed was either a bushranger or a friend of the infamous bushranger Ben Hall.
This is what I wrote:
"The grave of the bushranger, Thomas Byrne, can be found in the grounds of the St Brigid's Roman Catholic Church which lies to the south of the town. Historically it was surrounded by large pines but in recent times they have all been cut down. Byrne's grave is located just behind the church. It declares that he was a native of Dublin, Ireland and, untypical for a bushranger, lived to the ripe old age of 69. Although there is some doubt about Byrne's status as a bushranger. He was more of a sympathiser than a helper.
"The local newspaper report, complete with a detailed description of the battle, records the following relating to Byrne:
"AN ENCOUNTER BETWEEN THE BUSHRANGERS AND THE POLICE. From the Goulburn Argus, February 25, 1865
INTELLIGENCE reached town yesterday, about ten o'clock a.m., of an encounter having taken place early that morning between Hall, Gilbert, and Dunn, and a party of police, at the place of a man named Thomas Byrne, at Mutbilly. All sorts of rumours prevailed respecting the affair, but the following particulars may be regarded as perfectly reliable. It appears that a strong party of the police, accompanied by a magistrate, got traces of the bushrangers, on Wednesday, at Currawong; they tracked them to the Yass road, on the second Breadalbane Plain, obtaining fresh traces all along the road. The police made their appearance at Lodge's at 9.30 p.m. on Thursday, and arrested several suspicious persons whom they found there, including two well known bush telegraphs, and they prevented any one quitting the premises. They also stopped all persons proceeding along the road, so as to prevent any chance of information of their movements being conveyed to the bushrangers. From what they subsequently learnt, they had every reason to believe that the bushrangers would be found, during the night, at the residence of the Thomas Byrne alluded to, whose house is at the Deep Creek, about five or six miles from Lodge's, and arrangements were accordingly made to rush the place. In pursuance of this plan, five of the police, and the magistrate referred to, Mr Huthwaite, surrounded the house and barn, about fifty yards off, at about four o'clock in the morning of yesterday … The family of Byrne, including himself, his wife, two sons, and two grown-up daughters, was arrested."
It is almost certainly wrong. Over the years two people, with deep knowledge of the story, have corrected the record.
In 2019 Linda Lenton wrote: "If you follow forward the case of the Byrnes and the charge of harbouring bushrangers, you will find that it is reported in the Goulburn Herald and Chronicle of 12 July 1865, page 3, (and elsewhere) that they were found not guilty by the jury of the Central Criminal Court, Sydney, the judge stating that he “could not discover any legal evidence sufficient to convict the prisoners”. Apart from this one episode, I could find no other accounts linking the Byrnes to bushranging. So it appears, no story of substance here. I therefore think that unless you have additional evidence, the above comments about Thomas Byrnes should be deleted and let him RIP."
And in 2021 James McDonald, who had written "Breadalbane, Ben Hall and the spurious case against Thomas Lodge" in the Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society, wrote: "I think the Breadalbane entry is inaccurate. I agree with the comments of Linda Lenton. My suggestion concerns the misrepresentation of the Byrnes and Lodge families in the newspaper account. I am not sure what is meant by the Goulburn Argus, as I don’t think there was a newspaper by that name (until the Southern Argus in the 1880s) and I think the only one in Goulburn at that time was the Goulburn Herald and Chronicle that was established in 1865 out of a merger of two predecessors. Maybe the Argus you have cited is the Melbourne Argus or one of the regional Arguses reprinting a version from a Goulburn correspondent?
In any case, juries of their peers acquitted both the Byrnes family and Thomas Lodge and we should accept the verdicts of the time, after they had both managed to survive judicial processes weighted heavily against them. The case against Lodge in particular was absolute rubbish and had the effect of financially ruining him. At least the Byrnes family were able to survive the controversy and remained in the district. I think sectarian politics were at play and I have written about this at length in the latest edition of the Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society. You can view it via Trove at: https://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-2940503681/view It’s at pp. 23-44. I know that there are many descendants of the Byrnes family in the district (and in Canberra) and out of respect for them I think that a balanced account needs to be provided. Byrne certainly wasn’t a bushranger and I think the entry needs to be corrected and/or the article removed."
I was tempted to remove the entire story - it really does seem to be so full of conflicting information - but have left it here so that those who are interested in the early history of Breadalbane can reflect on the nature of so much of Australian history - too much mythmaking and hearsay. We should always seek for precision and accuracy. It is worth reading James McDonald's article. It offers a case so persuasive that I am convinced my initial accusation that Thomas Byrne was a bushranger's friend is almost certainly incorrect.
Other Attractions in the Area
Located on the old Hume Highway is a substantial two-storey brick and stone rubble building known as Wollogorang which was built in the 1850s by Captain Henry Edenborough. It is notable for its French windows and its impressive outbuildings. It is not open to the public. The name Wollogorang, a Wiradjuri word, was taken to the Gulf of Carpentaria where today there is a huge property east of Borroloola.
* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area around Breadalbane was inhabited by the Wiradjuri people who often camped along the banks of the Lachlan River.
* In 1829 the New South Wales Surveyor-General Major Thomas Mitchell reported that the road from Bong Bong near Bowral to Breadalbane was well established and that a regular coach service should be created. As a result Breadalbane became a popular spot for people heading south from Sydney. This fact encouraged bushrangers.
* On 23 February 1865 near the present town site there was a battle between Ben Hall's gang and troopers from Goulburn. This was one of over 100 robberies that Hall and his gang perpetrated in 1864-65.
* In 1875 a railway station was established at Breadalbane. It closed in 1974.
* The town was bypassed by the Hume Highway in the 1990s resulting in the local services being closed down.^ TOP
There is no visitor information centre. The nearest is the Goulburn Visitor Information Centre, 201 Sloane Street, Goulburn, tel: (02) 4823 4492.^ TOP
There are no websites with information about Breadalbane.^ TOP