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Byrock, NSW

Quiet town noted for the Byrock Rockholes.

Byrock is a "blink and you will miss it" settlement on the long straight road from Nyngan to Bourke. Once an important watering hole for travellers today it is nothing more than a hotel, a general store, a deserted railway station, an old butcher's shop, an historic cemetery and a few unoccupied homes. The hotel is a popular watering hole which also offers camping facilities and bushwalks through the scrub.


Byrock is located 685 km north-west of Sydney and 78 km on the Mitchell Highway south-east from Bourke.


Origin of Name

It is accepted that the root of the town name comes from the Ngemba word "bai" meaning the semen of men and animals. This evolved to became the Bye Rockhole. In the 1880s when the railway arrived the settlement was known as 'Bye Rock'. There is an accepted explanation for the name changing to 'Byrock'. When the post office arrived the postmaster requested a rubber stamp from Sydney and it came back with the incorrect spelling 'Byrock'. The Railway Station Master, eager for a simple solution, cut out the 'e' from the railway sign and it became 'Byrock' as well.


Things to See and Do

Byrock Water Hole
The water hole, which lies 500 metres to the west of the town just beyond the hotel, has a detailed explanation of its meaning to Aboriginal people.

Creation Story of the Byrock Rockholes.
"The Ngemba (Kurulkiyalu - stone country people) name of this granite rock outcrop is Bai - a word signifying the semen of men and animals. Towards the northern edge of the rock is a small hole in which water collects in rainy weather and during every thunderstorm. There it remains for a considerable time.
The little rockhole called 'Wuggarbuggarnea" was a great camping place for Ngemba, both before and after this part of the country became occupied by European settlers. Still residing in the neighbouring towns of Brewarrina and Bourke and spread through the towns in New South Wales, are the descendants of the Ngemba people.
Baiame - the great creator in Ngemba mythology - had his home at this place in the dreamtime. He dug the rockhole with his
stone axe. Every time it became blunt during the operation, he whet it on the surface near him.
"At other places there are hollows in the rock where the great creator pounded nuts and and ground grass-seed for the purpose of making bread.
"There is a long straight crack in the rock, varying from a metre to half metre in width and about half metre deep, commencing at the rock-hole.
"This is the trail along which the great creator dragged his firewood and larger game. It also served the purpose then as now, of channelling storm water into the rockhole.
"The great creator started his journey from Cobar chasing after a wild bee. on his feet he put bird feathers.
"He followed the insect all the way to a large rock at Wuttagoona where he successfully secured the honeycomb.
"There is still a bees' nest in the rock, but ordinary mortals cannot reach far enough into the crack to get at the honey."
When non-Aborigines arrived in the area they started using the rockhole because it was the only reliable source of water. It does dry up during periods of drought and therefore is not available all the time. At various times Afghan camel drivers, railway fettlers and Cobb & Co coaches have used the water. There is more information at http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aboriginalplaces/ByrockRockHoles.htm.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area was occupied by the Ngemba people who belonged to the Wongaipuwan language group. Kurulkiyala, or stone country people, was another identification name as was Gunda-Ah-Myro meaning men who stay out back and never visit rivers.

* Byrock came into existence as a stopping point for Cobb & Co coaches which used the Byrock rock holes to water their horses.

* By 1879 the Mulga Creek Hotel was being used as a Cobb & Co change station.

* On 2 September, 1884 the Great Western Railway from Sydney reached Byrock which was 455 miles and 42 chains (747.39 km) from Sydney and 497 feet (152 metres) above sea-level. The railway was an attempt by the New South Wales government to win back the trade which, at the time, was all going down the Darling River to South Australia.

* By 1885 the New South Wales government was offering blocks of land for sale in the town.

* With the arrival of the train, Cobb & Co started offering a service to Bourke four times weekly. The trip took 12 hours.

* By 1886 there were about 500 people living in the area. There were 10 stores, 5 hotels, as well as a butcher's shop and a baker's shop.

* In 1974 the railway branch line to Brewarrina was closed as a result of flood damage.

* In 1984 a new Mulga Creek Hotel was built at Byrock.

* The train service from Nyngan to Bourke was closed in May, 1989 due to flood damage.

* In 2006 the school was closed due to a lack of students.


Visitor Information

Mulga Creek Hotel, Mitchell Highway, Byrock, tel: (02) 6874 7311



Mulga Creek Hotel, Mitchell Highway, Byrock, tel: (02) 6874 7311



Mulga Creek Hotel, Mitchell Highway, Byrock, tel: (02) 6874 7311


Useful Websites

There is no website for Byrock.

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43 suggestions
  • The Cemetery at Byrock, some distance out of town, holds the graves of two babies, second cousins of mine. Both babies died at the station, two years apart, waiting for a train which might take them to Bathurst. They were sick, about 1900, mother wanted to take them to her parents in Bathurst, but they died at the Station, waiting for a train. They are buried at Byrock. SO sad. The poor mother.
    When I was there, for a day, a group of workers was busy clearing up the Cemetery, where the babies are buried, and it was VERY beautiful — trees murmuring to each other way up high. And, there was a large panel in which were listed the names of the people buried there. And the graves were identified as well as possible.
    Thank you SO much to the workers who did it!

    mary sculthorp
  • Does the Winter family still own the hotel in Byrock? My last visit was in 1969. At that time the Winter family ran the pub as well as the garage.

  • Very informative. I was the officer in charge of Byrock Railway from about late 1964 until about 1965. I then transferred to Girilambone where we stayed until mid-1968. These days were very precious, as our son was born at Nyngan Hospital in 1967. Later on we moved to Tamworth NSW. However this is another story.

    Bill Barber
    • Bill Barber, I was just a young boy, 12-13 yrs old, during the time you were in Byrock but remember you well. Where are you now?

      David Bligh
  • My Grandfather (Jesse) Andrew Roper was overseer on Byrock Station for decades. I have electoral rolls listing him and my Grandmother Alice Mary (nee Arnold) as living there during the 1930s and 40s. However, I think they were there for much longer

    Christine Barker
    • Hi Christine, my grandmothers maid name was Roper, Alice Maud she married Jack Hazelton probably in the late 1920’s , they have 7 kids, 4 girls and 3 boys, My grandfather was a fettler on the railways, they moved into Bourke in the late 1960,,,,julie cullen

      Julie cullen
  • Is there any information on Waddell’s Tank? My great grandfather Michael Joseph O’Grady was the caretaker there in 1892 but I cannot find anything about it’s purpose or closure.

    Sue MacGibbon
  • Do you have any information about a mine at or near Byrock around 1907-1909? I believe the mining company went bankrupt about 1909/1910. Unfortunately I have no details as to what kind of ore was mined – it may have been gold, tin or lead – or the name of the company operating the mine.
    My great grandfather Robert Doyle was apparently employed as a mine manager there around the years mentioned. The family rented a house at Byrock or Bourke and my grandfather travelled about 60 miles to the mine in a sulky and came home at weekends. There would also have been a Mr Hetherington who worked there during the same period, probably as a mine foreman. If you have any details, or could direct me to where I might find this information, I would be very grateful.
    Maxine Jones

    Maxine Jones
  • My grandfather, George Ernest Dorman was the licensee for the Commercial Hotel Byrock (later re-named the Gateway Hotel) for a short period between June & September 1926. This was after holding the license for the Federal Hotel in Miandetta (1919-1925) and then the Coolabah Hotel and immediately before taking up the license of the Barwon Hotel in Brewarrina in September 1926. There are photos of the Commercial Hotel in Byrock from Tooth & Co at the Noel Butlin Archives at ANU dated September 1927 if anyone is interested. There are 2 glass plate negatives of Byrock Railway Station from the Goldthorpe Collection of the University of Newcastle which are very evocative of Byrock. Find them at https://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/byrock

    Kaye Schofield
    • Elias Denis Jarrett was my great great grandfather. We knew that he moved with the family to Byrock in the 1890s & leased a bore, my great great grandmother Rosa Jarrett died in childbirth while there. But we don’t know much else about that part of the family’s life. Do you have any further information – very interested. Thanks.

      Grant Scott
  • From the 1890s until around 2015 Byrock had at least one council maintained water bore. My great grandfather, Elias Jarrett was the manager of the bore during the early 1890s. This information was often related by my grandmother who was born at Byrock in 1892.

    Kevin Richardson
    • Elias Dennis Jarrett was my great great grandfather. I knew that he moved to Byrock with his family, in the 1890’s & leased a bore. My great great grandmother Rosa Jarrett (née Levey) died in childbirth while there. I don’t know much more about that part of the family’s life. Do you have any further information – I’m very interested. Thanks, Grant Scott

      Grant Scott
      • Grant, I have a fair amount of information about Elias Denis Jarret and his family. Valerie Scott is/was my godmother. If you are interested please let me know 0244803462.

        Kevin Richardson
  • Grandfather Jack Willoughby grew up in Byrock possibly 1920’s and eventually settled in Bathurst passing away in 1982. in the I am trying to trace some family history/heritage.

  • My son Andrew Kettle has recently returned from a week working in Byrock for CSIRO. Lots of information gleaned from talking with the proprietor of the Hotel. Interesting history, explanations of local landmarks and why all the trees are the same height. Temperature in the 40 degrees seemed to be the norm. Meeting locals in the bar at night provided lots of story telling.

  • My grandad used to live around Byrock. His name was Thomas Kelly – wondered if anyone had come across his memory in their yarns or travels??

    Lance Kelly
  • You didn’t mention the Parking Meters out the front of the hotel…..or are they gone ?
    Money raised for local Medical services I believe. Thought it a great idea

    Mary McCabe
    • Thomas Kelly was an ancestor of mine and he spent a lot of time around Byrock NSW.
      He apparently had family around Byrock as well, and there was some mischievious information about a mother and a daughter at the time?
      Don’t suppose there are any snippets of information anyone might have about a Tom Kelly in their area?
      Regards Lance Kelly by Tom Aitken Kelly by Ruby Tomasina Aitken by Kelly Thomas Kelly by Thomas Kelly.

      Lance John Kelly
  • What is the road like to Byrock? Is it tarred?

    Sandra Jamieson
    • Sandra the road from Nyngan to Bourke is tarred known as the Mitchell Highway and the settlement of Byrock is on that highway. The road to Brewarrina from Byrock is dirt but a tarred road to Brewarrina can be taken by turning off the Mitchell Highway at Coolabah which is a settlement towards Nyngan on the Mitchell Highway. There are only three settlements between Nyngan and Bourke being Girilambone, Coolabah and Byrock. The distance between Nyngan and Bourke on the Mitchell Highway is 203km and there are no petrol station in any of the three settlements.

      Roy Sage
  • I knew a young man, John Littlehales who came from Byrock to work as a stable hand / trainee jockey
    in Dubbo in the late 70’s. He was in Dubbo for a period and then returned to Byrock. Was wondering if anyone knows of John and does he still live in the Byrock area. Would like to catch up with him one day.

    Steve Kilfoyle
    • Hi Steve
      I can confirm that John is still in the area and his Mum is still living on brookside station

      If you want to contact him send me your email or phone number

      Eric Littlehales
  • I passed through Byrock last week and was interested to see the twin masts of (presumably) the ABC’s transmitters. I am intrigued why the facility isn’t mentioned in your notes. Those transmitters have been in use for many years and play a very important part in the lives of people living in NW NSW.

    Douglas Grant
  • My mother lyla Hollibone ne lyla Bow was Postmistress o the Byrock Post Office, my father Bill Hollibone was a fettle based at Byrock in 1934. Any imformation wud b appreciated.

    Kenneth Hollibone
  • My family lived here for about 8 years from the mid 50’s. The Rock Hole was a favored play area. My mate used to buy cigarettes from my parents store ‘for his brother’ and we’d sneak to the Rock Hole to smoke them – kept them under a tree sealed in a Sunshine Milk tin. Brother’s brand was Kool Menthol – Ugh; turned me off smoking for life. Many happy memories out there in the heat and dust.

    Rex Doughty
    • Hello Rex, I’m Margaret (nee Harvey) . My parents owned the hotel from about 1959 for several years. I went to school with you and your sisters, Anne and Kay. I now live in Adelaide. My mother and sister left Byrock under extreme circumstances leaving my father. I remember your parents well.
      Their store burned down and your family then left town. Small world. Love to know how you are all going.

      Margaret Stevens
  • Hi my name is Douglas Gordon, I’m told that my father is from Byrock, his name is GEORGE Gordon.
    It would be much appreciated if anyone has any information could you please get in contact with me.

    Doug Gordon
  • Why do you not mention the ABC transmitters at Byrock? They have been the source of information and entertainment to the people of NW NSW for many years.

    Douglas Grant
    • Hi Douglas, Simple reason. This is primarily about the things visitors can see and experience in a town. I don’t think the ABC transmitters are something people driving to and from Bourke would stop to inspect. I may be wrong.

      Bruce Elder
  • Hi, I am coming to Byrock soon. Am hoping someone can give me some information on the Clements (Benjamin) family and the Wrights (William Thomas) and Frank Augustus Wright. Early settlers in the area and owners of Byrock Station. Love to hear any stories. Frank 0417687579

    frank johnson
  • Regarding the cemetery. is there a baby boy listed who died in 1906 . Harold Geoffrey Wilson.. Was about 15 months old.

    Judy gemmell
  • My maternal grandfather, David Alexander Wilson, was a mounted police constable later becoming a 1st class sergeant stationed mostly in north west NSW.
    His 3rd son was born at Byrock in 1908 so I am assuming that he was stationed and living there with family for some time. Can anyone confirm that there was police station at Byrock and for what period of time ?

    Malcolm Gemmell
    • Hi my great grandparents were married at a place called Thyuna or Thyrina station in 1887 near Byrock, anyone ever heard of it.

      Dorothy haynes
    • A Constable D A Wilson was based in Byrock in 1908. A relatives death certificate lists informant as D A Wilson. Police Constable Byrock 1908. From research he was also writing to RH Mathews and some of his letters to RH Mathews are kept in the National Library of Australia

  • My grandparents had a pub at Byrock in the early 1920’s – my mother was born in 1922 in Bourke, when they lived at Byrock. Our family have very little info about that period of their lives, and would welcome any info people may have. They would have used the surname of Watt or Scott at that time.

  • Dear Bruce,
    Yes – you are wrong. The ABC transmitters at Byrock have been a fundamental component of the lives of people in the region for years and that role should be recognised. The transmitters operate unattended and therefore are not a visitable tourist attraction – BUT – they are a fundamental visible feature of the district .Byrock should recognise the role they have played and at least give them a mention in tourist information – and be proud of their role over the years.


    Doug Grant

    Doug Grant
    • Can anyone recall the name of “Porky” who was a POW on a Japanese Hospital ship that was bombed by the Americans. He was one of only about 7 who were rescued and was interviewd by the ABC on his return to Sydney.
      I went to school in Byrock. 13 kids. We lived near Mrs Lowe’s shop. Had ballet lessons at the bar of the pub from Peggy Johnston, the licencee. I was 6-7 when we left. Relatives lived on Lyndhurst, Tara and Kenilworth stations.

      Carole Colette nee Guteridge
      • Hi Carole, do you know any more about ‘Mrs Lowe’ and her shop? What was her name and who was she related to? Also does anyone know about Bahloo Station and the presence there of any of the Stone family? Thank you!

      • Hello Carole, I am your first cousin and lived near Girilambone

        Cherie Nixon
  • My great great grandfather James Coleman and wife Catherine Comfort Coleman were couriers and stopped at Byrock in the late 1800s early 1900s. They had a large family and relatives that lived and owned a shop I believe in Byrock. There was also a photo of a ww1 soldier called Henry Coleman hanging at the pub. If I remember correctly a young Coleman child is buried at the cemetery. Anyone know the Colemans and their descendants?

    Ian Robert McWhinnie