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Carrathool, NSW

Small town, once on the Murrumbidgee, now between Narrandera and Hay.

Carrathool is a small village is situated on the Riverina plain five kilometres north of the Murrumbidgee River. The settlement was originally located on the river and was known as a bustling river port which served the district to the north that extended as far as Cobar. It was located at Boree Point where the Murrumbidgee River could be safely crossed. When the railway arrived the town moved 5 km north to where it is today. The main attractions in the town are the remarkable bascule bridge across the Murrumbidgee (one of only three left in New South Wales) and Pinkers Beach which is a popular holiday destination on the river.


Carrathool is located 675 km west of Sydney via the Hume and Sturt Highways.


Origin of Name

It is believed that "Carrathool" is a Wiradjuri word meaning "brolga" or "native companion".


Things to See and Do

The Carrathool Bridge
The historic Carrathool Bridge is one of the last lifting bridges in Australia. It was built to replace the punt across the Murrumbidgee River and was completed in 1922. It is a bascule span bridge. There are a total of three bascule bridges - the others are at Narooma and Coraki. A bascule span bridge is a moveable bridge with a counterweight that continuously balances a span, or "leaf," throughout its upward swing to provide clearance for boat traffic. The Carrathool bridge is the only one still in existence which was built from timber trusses. The Narooma Bridge is the only one still working and it opens about five times a year. The Carrathool bridge has not opened to river traffic since the 1930s. For directions to the bridge see http://www.carrathool.local-e.nsw.gov.au/images/documents/carrathool/Maps/1581-CarrathoolA4.pdf.


Other Attractions in the Area

Pinkers Beach
Pinkers Beach is an attractive sandy beach located on the Murrumbidgee River some 3 km south-east of town on the Hillston Road. It is a popular family destination which is ideal for picnics, barbecues, swimming and fishing. The area is known for its tall Red River Gums which line the Murrumbidgee and its extensive birdlife.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area had been occupied by people from the Wiradjuri Aboriginal people for at least 20,000 years.

* The explorer Charles Sturt was the first European to pass through the area during an exploration of the inland river system in 1829. He noted the pine ridges and the richness of the soil.

* Carrathool began its life in October, 1852 when 1,200 ha were established as a way station serving travelling between Narrandera and Hay. They were located on the northern bank of the Murrumbidgee.

* River steamers started plying the Murrumbidgee in 1858 and stopping at the popular crossing at Boree Point. This was where the village would later develop. It was one of the first river towns along the Murrumbidgee.

* The Robertson Land Act of 1861 opened the land up to selectors who moved into the area.

* Town plots went on sale in 1865 and the first hotel was opened on the south side of the river in 1868.

* The railway arrived on the northern side of the river in 1882 and Carrathool West came into being, which is the site of the present township. That same year a Post Office was opened in the town.

* Carrathool, now served by both steamers and the railway, became an important Riverina port and railhead serving Hillston, Cobar, the copper mine at Mt Hope, and the sheep, timber, wool, cattle and wheat producers of the surrounding area.

* A bridge was built adjacent the punt in 1883, some pillars of which remain.

* St David's Presbyterian Church (1884) is still standing today.

* The village was formally proclaimed on 20 March, 1885.

* A punt was established to cross the river. It was located where the bridge was subsequently built.

* The current 119 metre bascule bridge was built 1921-24. It is the last surviving example of a timber bascule lift span bridge and is heritage listed.

* The depression of the 1930s led to a decline in the productivity of the area.

* The bascule bridge last opened for river traffic in the 1930s.

* In 1934 the Carrathool shire headquarters were moved to Goolgowi.


Visitor Information

There is no Visitor Information in the town but the Carrathool Shire Council, 190 High Street, Hillston, tel: (02) 6967 2555 does have a brochure on the town.



Carrathool Hotel, 15 Wade Street, Carrathool, tel: (02) 6993 5117



Carrathool Hotel, 15 Wade Street, Carrathool, tel: (02) 6993 5117


Useful Websites

The local shire website has useful information. Check out http://www.carrathool.nsw.gov.au/visiting-our-area-carrathool/carrathool-carrathool and the Hillston site - http://www.visithillston.com/carrathool.htm.

Got something to add?

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

23 suggestions
  • November 2015
    Hi Carrathool District Visitor Information
    Under the subtitle ‘History’ it would be great to note the early known family names of the people who lived and worked in this lovely, small, picturesque village, so that ancestors can immediately (first) link in to identify with their names and roles, early history/culture of Carrathool. (As opposed to having to go through councils and other agencies firstly.)
    Or, for family who have travelled afar, and, for curious visitors alike, it would be a pleasure to see a history plaque (landmarks) around places within the village to communicate with visitors describing some of the township’s daily life and times noting/linking/recording some of the local early family names -the pioneers of Carrathool.
    What do you think?
    My ancestors (Murray’s) were food producers in this quaint village down by the Murrumbidgee River. I loved meeting some of the locals about 10 years ago, and learned about their -and my amazing family history, (1860’s +) the old stories, and seeing where the chooks, ducks, geese, fruit and vegetables were grown down by the bend of the river near the hotel by my early ancestors. A branch of the family later moved to the banks on the mighty Murrumbidgee River at Hay where market gardens and hospitality flourished. Sadly, my elderly cousin (who died in July this year at 93 years of age), who was the last living family member born and raised in Hay, was able to recall many memories and family history from the 1860’s linking the life and times Hay and Carrathool.
    Will make to the Carrathool Race Day in February, one day!
    Best regards to all at lovely Carrathool, From, Annie Hughes, Bendigo, Victoria

    Annie Hughes
  • I am looking for people named Hiscock. Can anyone help, please?

    • I was raised in Carrathool from 1938 until I left the area in 1962. I remember well Stan and Alice Hiscock and for a short time worked for Stan in his general store. Happy to share my memories and research with you Sid. Contact me at donnabhan@live.com.au
      Bartholomew O’Donovan

      Bartholomew O'Donovan
    • I am a Nephew of Alice & Stan Hiscock who ran the General Store at Carrathool. If I can help you please let me know.

      John Ledger
  • Looking for info on railway employees approx. 1915-1922 particularly Sylvester Harold Bayliss. Is their a railway record in the town? Will be visiting on our way to Hay late October this year

    Jennifer Saxby
    • Re my post last July. We tried to get into Carrathool both on our way to Adelaide and on our way back home. It the access in was flooded. We are going to make the journey again this September. Does anyone have I formatin on the railway employees in the 1920’s. Specifically Sylvester Harold Bayliss

      Jennifer Saxby
  • I am looking for info on my ancestor Richard Griffiths who, I am told, ran the punt across the river.

    Margaret schultz
  • Looking for records of 1908 Bringadee Station. Wondering if the station kept records back then. My father drove Clydesdales here in 1908.

    bruce little
  • I’d be interested to know the exact location of the original settlement on the northern bank, and the hotel on the south side. That might have made for some interesting swimming on occasions :). Is there any trace of those early buildings?

    Steve McClure
  • I lived in Carrathool from 1954 to 1959 as my father was the teacher there. I remember the names of people mentioned. Mum played for the dances in the church hall.Dad built a shelter shed for we kids. We danced the maypole. No electricity!! Lots of snakes! Dad taught from kindergarten to the Intermediate certificate. We enjoyed our time there. I remember going to some of the sheep stations and knowing the owners. The Merrylees loaned Ian and I two horses
    – Nanky Poo and Toodles!!

    • Would you be Wendy daughter of Stan? If so I would be happy to talk about Carrathool as I grew up there and remember you and your brother and parents..

      Bartholomew O'DONOVAN
  • I’m looking for any histories on Carrathool Station, in particular any references to Emily Beulah Showery who worked there in 1893-1894. I can be reached at oggy@oggy.com.au

    John Ogden
    • I would be interested in the old family names. My grandmother was raised in Carrathool and we were told her family has something to do with the old general store or hotel. Her name was Catherine Melrose back then. She married a local man with the surname De Villa (later changed to Dehaverland I think) and had a chid who was not raised by my grandmother. The childs name was Joan. Catherine appeared in the local Hay newspaper when her husband and she divorced. There were lots of secrets for some reason. unfortunately most involved have passed away.

      Adam Borchard
      • Andy, I have the memory of a Mrs Melrose who lived in Carrathool when I grew up there here in the late 1930’s to the 1950’s.
        Contact me at donnabhan@live.com.au Bartholomew.

        Bartholomew O'DONOVAN
        • We lived 20 miles south of Carrathool till August 1964, Stan Hiscock’s shop was on the corner of the building across the road west of the pub, a tiny shop with a cellar you could look down into from the street if I remember rightly, and Mrs Melrose’s cafe was in the same building, next door just west of the corner shop. The railway station was across the road from it.

          Stephen Arnold
          • Mrs Melrose might have been permitted to fill prescriptions, when I was about 6 I tripped in her doorway and broke a bottle of medicine just dispensed, and were able to get another from her.

            Stephen Arnold
      • Re mrs Melrose, I remember her well. She was famous for having made scones for Queen Elizabeth on her visit to Australia in 1954. I lived in a station 30 miles out of Carrathool and would love to buy lollies from her shop.

        Doffy white
  • Hi Does anyone have photos of the Carrathool Grasshoppers Football Team. Year 1960. please Lyn Frederickson

    Lyn Frederickson
    • I have seen one Lyn. I don’t know if it was as early 1960, but definitely the 60’s. Bede Lewis, the Hendersons to name a couple are in it. If I ever come across it again, I will come back & post.

      Steve McClure
  • There are a number of historical places in Carrathool that had the pleasure of Edmund Barton visiting regularly before and during federation of Australia.

    A well known architect designed many of the houses and businesses in the district, appointed by Queen Victoria to design the houses for the hot arid climate. The old Carrathool hall was previously the old Court House that Edmund Barton was presiding judge of for many years before becoming first Prime Minister. The name of the Architect James Watt is still written on the wall beneath the old mantle piece along with his wife’s name and the names of his children.
    There is still much history floating around Carrathool that is yet to be written and mother nature still hides many secrets to this day. Very little is known of the ancestral residents and property owners due to a mouse plague destroying all documentary land titles around 1916.
    There is only one known historical title with the names of the property and land owners left in existence. There fire finding any information is difficult.

    Kerrie Blydenstein.
  • I am a descendent of the Ledwidge family who left Carrathool to move to Hay or Jerilderie. My grandfather was Alfred Thomas Ledwidge married to Annie Hurst and my father was Arthur Ledwidge. There was a Michael John Ledwidge died in Carrathool 1885-1952 married to May who was my great uncle. I believe there are many Ledwidge links at Carrathool.

    Sara Morton (nee Ledwidge)
  • There are a few more bascule span bridges in NSW than you allude to. There are two other Bélidor Bascule bridges. They are on the North Coast at Maclean and Coraki.

    The other bascule bridges in NSW are at Narooma, Swansea (a pair,) Spit Bridge, Broad Water and Grafton. The Menindee rail bridge was a bascule bridge but its lifting mechanism has been removed.

    There are many more that have been replaced over the years. There is a good article on these bridges at https://roads-waterways.transport.nsw.gov.au/documents/about/environment/protecting-heritage/moveable-span-bridge-study-volume-2-bascule-and-swing-span-bridges-part-1.pdf

    Peter D