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Gunning, NSW

Town bypassed by the Hume Highway and now a quiet retreat.

Gunning is a small rural town which was, for decades, a victim of the Hume Highway which ran down the main street. Every truck, indeed every vehicle, travelling between Sydney and Melbourne roared and rumbled through the town. Today it is a delightful, chic small town bypassed by the highway which means that the historic buildings in the main street - the court house, post office, Caxton House - can all be admired as visitors promenade down a wide street with little traffic.

Location

Gunning is located 244 km south-west of Sydney and 47 km west of Goulburn. It is situated just off the Hume Highway and is 580 m above sea-level.

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Origin of Name

It has been claimed that Gunning is a word, either in the Gundungurra and Ngunawal language, meaning 'swamp mahogany'.

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Things to See and Do

The Picture House Gallery & Bookshop
The brainchild of artist Margarita Georgiadis and award-winning actor/artist Max Cullen, the Picture House Gallery & Bookshop was originally The Coronation Theatre (circa 1937). Cullen and Georgiadis renamed the venue “The Picture House Gallery & Bookshop”and set up a performing arts bookshop in the original cinema foyer and extended the shop to include a gallery with high cathedral ceilings; the interior of the old cinema. Beyond the gallery are Cullen and Georgiadis’s studios which also includes a raked proscenium stage, perfect for intimate performances and events. See http://thepicturehousegallery.webs.com/aboutus.htm for more details.

Historic Gunning
There are a number of interesting historic buildings in Gunning. While many can only be viewed from the outside they still offer a pleasant and informative walk around the town.

(1) Frankfield Guest House
Frankfield Guest House  at 1-3 Warrataw Street was built in 1870 as the Frankfield Hotel. Previously a guest house, it is now a private residence.

(2) Pye Cottage
Located in Yass Street (the main street in town) is Pye Cottage (c.1860), a slab hut which was originally erected at Dalton (11 km to the north-west) and moved to Gunning in 1979. It is now a museum and can be opened by arrangement. There are three telephone numbers on the door for enquiries.

(3) The Post Office
Further along Yass Street is the post office (1880-81) and a nearby cenotaph dates from 1923.

(4) The Court House
Located prominently in Yass Street is the court house (1879). To the rear is a gaol keeper's residence (1872). A little further down the town's main street is the Telegraph Hotel built in the 1880s with the second storey added in 1916.

(5) Caxton House
Further along Yass Street are Caxton House and Caxton Cottage (1850). They were originally the one building.

(6) London House
London House (1881) is a fine brick building with arched coach entrance which has served as both general store and hotel.

(7) Cemetery
At the end of Wombat Street is the cemetery which contains the vault (near the entrance) of John Kennedy Hume who was shot and killed by the Whitton gang while attempting to help those being bailed up at the local store in 1840. The tomb was erected by his brother, the explorer Hamilton Hume.

(8) Police Barracks
On the corner of Wombat Street and Biala Street is the town's oldest surviving building, the former police barracks (now a private residence), erected c.1842, which have two cells at ground level.

(9) St Edmund's Anglican Church
St Edmund's Anglican Church (1866) and the Anglican rectory are just a short distance along Biala Street. The church has some particularly fine stained glass windows.

This is not a definitive list of buildings but is a pleasant walk around the town which will take probably no more than 45 minutes and give the visitor a feel for this town's early history.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area around Gunning was inhabited by groups of Aborigines from the Gundungurra and Ngunawal language groups. It has been suggested that the Pajong 'Fish River Tribe' also lived in the area as well.

* The first Europeans onto the Goulburn Plains were Hamilton Hume and James Meehan who crossed the plains in 1818.

* Prior to 1820 the area around Gunning was the "limit of settlement" and settlers were banned from the district.

*  Hume (after whom the Hume Highway is named) established a sheep property near Gunning as early as 1821.

* In 1824 Hume departed from his property Yass with William Hovell on the hugely important expedition which explored the land between Yass and Port Phillip Bay. A column by the roadside at Fish River, 5 km east of Gunning, marks their starting point.

* Plans for a town were officially approved in 1838. Land sales in the area began that year.

* In 1840 Hamilton Hume's brother, John Kennedy Hume, who also owned a property at Fish River, was shot dead by members of the Whitton gang while he was trying to help people who had been bailed up at Cooper's Store.

* By 1848 the town had 95 residents, the store and an hotel.

* The railway arrived in 1875 and Gunning was a rail terminus for over fifty years.

* In 1901 Gunning was described as "a prosperous town supplying the needs of travellers, villagers and the surrounding rural community." It had five pubs at the time.

* In 1959 there was a major flood in Meadow Creek.

* In 1993 the Hume Highway bypassed the town creating a new and more interesting historic settlement.

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Visitor Information

There is no tourist information centre in Gunning but the Goulburn Visitors' Centre, 201 Sloan Street, Goulburn tel: (02) 4823 4492 and the Crookwell Visitor Information Centre, 106 Goulburn Street, Crookwell, tel: (02) 4832 1988.

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Eating

Merino Cafe, 62 Yass Street is widely regarded as the best cafe/restaurant in town, tel: (02) 4845 1250.

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Useful Websites

There is no dedicated website for Gunning.

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Got something to add?

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

11 suggestions
  • Where are the boulders? Scattered across the hills? From where to where? Look like meteorites?

    Helmut Gensen
    • Hi Helmut,
      I notice we don’t mention the boulders but, as I have driven through Gunning hundreds of times, I would suggest that you are referring to the granite outcrops along the road between Gunning and Goulburn. Certainly they are very distinctive and are noted by drivers.

      Bruce Elder
  • This is my home town. To use an Australian-ism, it was ‘not too bad at all’ to grow up in Gunning, traffic and all.

    T. O'Neill
  • Gunning is a great town for all families to enjoy. The pool is very nice and the community is even nicer.

    Breeza
  • My father was Postmaster in Gunning during the 50s and 60s. I went to school there, and then worked on the Telephone Exchange for six years. I always remember Gunning very fondly.

    margaret norman
  • Hi, I was born and raised in Gunning. My Christmas was destroyed last night, the 23rd dec, when I was informed that my nan, pop, and great aunt’s house in Gunning was burnt down in Biala Street. IF THIS WAS ARSON I WANT WHOEVER DID IT to be tied to a stake in the middle of where my family’s house USED TO STAND, and I will gladly light the stake. This has ruined our Christmas and it has affected so many families.

    kim watkins (Sheldrick)
  • Does anyone know the history of Caxton House? It always is mentioned with anything to do with Gunning, yet I can’t find why it is so significant.

    Mitch Spooner
    • My grandmother was born at Caxton House bought by her grandparents in 1868.
      Land Titles records relevant to Caxton House are just as interesting as the family Folklore. Basically, Caxton House started out as an inn approximately 1838 but in 1865 underwent major redevelopment. It operated as a pub for some years then reverted to a family home for my great grandparents and later my great uncle. It remained in his family until 1974 and has since been used for commercial enterprise before becoming a private home again.

      Beverley Harcourt
      • My Great Grandfather James Newman and his wife Mary Jane Newman (Wilson) lived at Caxton house and the survivor Mary Jane passed the property down to her son Arthur James Newman, my grandfather, and Caxton House was in the family until the death of my Grandmother George-Hetti Newman, née Frey.I lived at Caxton House as a young child during the early years of WW11 and know the building and environs well.

        Brian Andrews
        • hi Brian my name is Julie Shoobert i was just wondering if you could tell me some information about some people that lived in gunning around 1893 their names were Ernest Duncan and Margaret Luxton they where my great grand parents they had a daughter by the name of Emily Sarah Duncan i have been trying to find something on them and some back ground for our family history. i know Emily was born in gunning on December 1872 but do not know anything about her parents

          Julie Shoobert