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Gulargambone, NSW

Small rural town famous for its corrugated galahs.

Gulargambone is a tiny rural service centre located on the Castlereagh River and just off the Castlereagh Highway midway between Gilgandra and Coonamble. The surrounding area is given over to farming and grazing. The strength of the town lies in its strong sense of community which has seen it establish the first community-owned post office (Rural Transaction Centre) in Australia and an excellent volunteer-run local cafe, 2828, which sells local crafts, fine coffee and good, light meals.

Location

Gulargambone lies 490 km north-west of Sydney via Mudgee. It is 51 km north of Gilgandra, 46 km south of Coonamble and 225 m above sea-level.

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Origin of Name

The town's name, first used by George Tailby around 1840 when he named his property "Galargambone", is almost certainly derived from the Ngiyambaa term "gilagambuwan" which meant "with young galahs" or "Gillahgambone" which was translated as "place of Galah parrots".

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Things to See and Do

The Corrugated Iron Galahs
Who would ever have thought there was so much mileage in corrugated iron galahs? It does make very clever sense because “gulargambone” is an Anglicised corruption of a Ngiyambaa word “gilagambuwam” meaning “with young galahs” or “place of galah parrots”. That, surely, entitles the town to put galahs wherever they like. The concept was created by artist, Sam Newstead. The plan involved the entire community and utilised corrugated iron found around the town. It was decided that each sculpture should be "2 metres square, raised 2-3 metres from the ground and attached to metal poles". There are a total of 40 galah sculptures around the town.

two eight two eight Cafe
In 2002 the community purchased the old Majestic Theatre and turned it into a Visitor Information Centre, cafe, gallery and craft shop. It is a great compliment to the tireless efforts of local volunteers that it has won awards, has been responsible for training local indigenous people in hospitality, and has become the focus of the town's social life. It is an ideal starting point for visitors wanting to explore the town.

Rural Transaction Centre
Gulargambone achieved an historic first when, in 2000, concerned that the local Post Office would close, the townsfolk decided to form the GRTC (Gulargambone Rural Transaction Centre) and take over the running of the post office. It was inspired. The building now offers Giropost, Centrelink, Medicare, internet access and a branch of the Reliance Credit Union. It is symbolic of the way small rural communities may be able to survive during this era of rural downturn.

The Bourbah Street Murals
The artist Sam Newstead designed the murals and they were officially launched in 2002. "The theme of the mural is a day in Gulargambone. Starting in the twilight, through the dawn, morning and heat of the day, moving on to evening, nightfall and a new dawn. The Castlereagh River runs through the entire mural." Check out http://www.each2each.com.au/gulargambone.htm for details of each of the murals which combine to depict an image of the town spread across ten paintings.

Gulargambone River Walk
Located on the banks of the Castlereagh, off Bourbah Street, the Gulargambone River Walk is an opportunity to experience the special magic which attracted the Weilwan Aboriginal people to the area. As the sign at the beginning of the very short walk (it is only five minutes) explains the walk traverses "The tapestry of early life [which] included intricate ceremonies - 'Boras' - often involving the neighbouring tribes, the Wiradjuri and the Kamilaroi. 'Scarred' trees, middens, and other artifacts can be found around Gulargambone, testament to the era."

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Other Attractions in the Area

John Oxley Memorial
Located 12 km north of Gulargambone on the Castlereagh Highway, the John Oxley Memorial Rest Area is a simple picnic table with a plaque from the New South Wales Bicentennial Committee advising that the memorial is "To commemorate the exploration party, led by John Oxley  - Surveyor General, of 16 men and 19 horses which crossed in this vicinity 2nd August 1818. Joint project funded by the N.S..W Bicentennial Council, Shire of Coonamble and Gulargambone Historical Society."

Siding Spring Observatory
Located 68 km east of the town, Siding Spring Observatory was opened in 1964 and is now home to nine telescopes with more being commissioned.

What is the appeal of Siding Springs location? This is classic dry, inland Australia and it happens to be an ideal place for stargazing with a combination of relatively high altitude, low humidity, a non-turbulent atmosphere, clean air and an average of 70% clear night skies. Never have the stars looked so bright in the night sky.

Siding Spring Observatory is a complex of international importance which has the largest optical research telescope (the Anglo Australian Telescope opened by Prince Charles in 1974) in Australia (3.9 m). The huge telescope can been seen from on the top of the Warrumbungles from the surrounding countryside. The main attraction is the Visitor Centre which includes an interactive exhibition, a theatrette with a short film, a science gift shop and the Exploratory Cafe. The Siding Spring Exploratory exhibition is open from 9.30 am to 4.00 pm Monday to Friday. For more information, tel: (02) 6842 6211 or check out http://rsaa.anu.edu.au/observatories/siding-spring-observatory. It is important to register "SSO is a working research facility and as such it has no public star-gazing facilities. The Observatory and its surrounds are closed to the general public from 4pm each day."

Warrumbungle National Park
Warrumbungle National Park, which is 50 km east of Gulargambone, was savaged by bushfires in January, 2013 and is still recovering. It is a 21,534 ha, has 43 km of walking tracks and is ideal for photography, rock climbing, picnics and bird watching.

The Warrumbungle Range (of which the National Park is part) is a 130 km spur of the Great Dividing Range. It was created by volcanic action and its most striking formations are plugs made of trachyte, a fast-drying lava which fills in volcanic craters and, because it is harder, remains after the surrounding cones have eroded. The result is dramatic ridges, spires and domes the best-known of which is the Breadknife which is 90 m high and one metre thick. The park is rich with wildflowers in spring and summer and is home to a wide variety of creatures including 180 species of birds as well as koalas and kangaroos.

There are a number of walks in the Park ranging from short walks to longer walks ranging from 3.6 kilometres return (approximately 2 hours) to 18 kilometres return or approximately 5 - 7 hours. One of the most popular walks in the Breadknife, Grand High Tops trail which is 12.5 kilometres return and takes between 4 - 5 hours.

Details of the walks are available from the visitors' centre in the park or at the Coonabarabran Visitors Centre. Check out http://www.warrumbungleregion.com.au/thingsToSeeDo.cfm?newsId=29 for more details. The Warrumbungle Visitors Centre is open from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm daily, tel: (02) 6825 4364.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the district was occupied by the Weilwan, who were neighbours of the huge Wiradjuri nation.

* The first Europeans into the area were an exploration party led by John Oxley, the New South Wales Surveyor General. The party comprised 16 men and 19 horses. They crossed the district north of the present town site on 2 August, 1818.

* Around 1840 a property named 'Galargambone' was taken up by George Tailby. The 1841 census revealed two men living on the property.

* Between 1840 and 1860 graziers, including William Skulthorpe who took up 50 acres where the Castlereagh River meets Gulargambone Creek, settled in the area.

* In 1866 the town site was surveyed and subdivided.

* Gulargambone was officially gazetted as a village in 1883.

* In 1903 the railway bypassed the town and a small siding, Gular Rail, was established.

* In 1909 both the Commercial Bank (CBC) and the Bank of NSW opened agencies in the town.

* The Majestic Hall, later to become the Majestic Picture Theatre, opened its doors in 1918.

* In 1994 the Westpac Bank, the last bank in town, closed its doors.

* In 2000, worried that the local post office would close, the community formed the GRTC (Gulargambone Rural Transaction Centre) and took over the post office.

* In 2002 Sam Newstead was employed to design murals for the main street.

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Visitor Information

There is a section of the two eight two eight Cafe, Bourbah Street, which has brochures on the town and the district.  tel: (02) 6825 1828.

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Useful Websites

The local shire website - http://www.coonambleshire.nsw.gov.au/VisitingCoonamble/gulargambone.html - has information about the town and a downloadable Gulargambone brochure.

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Got something to add?

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

10 suggestions
  • Maybe add some factors which make this a community?

    Charmaine Shellocks
  • We recently photographed and then did a painting of an abandoned railway station between Nyngan and Bourke. Someone gave us the info that it had to do with your town Gulargambone and the mining of copper. Your website ‘history’ doesn’t mention copper so I wondered if we have got it wrong. We like to write about the paintings we do. Can you give me any ideas about the railway station?

    Barbara Cole
    • Not much help here. The town was never associated with copper. The area was settled by graziers and the town came into existence with the arrival of the railway. Hope that helps. Maybe another reader can add to this.

      Bruce Elder
  • The caravan park situated here is an exceĺlent place to “stay awhile”.

    M. O'Donnell
  • Maybe you should give the population information as kids would want it for information reports.

    One of the challenges of a site like this is to avoid information which is likely to change. There will be over 1330 entries by the time it is finished. That means weeks and weeks of work every time a new census is held. Consequently we do not list population. It can also be found at other sites.

    Jonah Mobbs
  • In the history section, you did not mention what year the Post and Telegraph Office was opened in Gulargambone.

    Carl P Parkinson
  • You should write the population of the town. 🙂

    We try to never write something that is going to change. Obvious reason: with 1333 towns that would mean 1333 changes every time there was a census. There are other places on the internet where populations can be found.

    Emily
  • 2018 “Ghosts of Bullocks Past ” on the Highway

    Diane Patrick
  • One of the nicest and most interesting towns I visited on a recent trip. Blackfella and whitefella history. Friendly. Great coffee in lovely old building etc.etc.Solidarity forever!

    Bob Mancor
  • Gulargambone Hotel
    Coldest Beer in Town
    Gourmet Pizzas & Pub Grub.
    Single Accommodation
    Come & meet the locals over a drink & a laugh
    6825 1237

    jennie