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Guyra, NSW

Rural service town famed for its potatoes and fat lambs.

Located at 1330 metres above sea-level, Guyra is the highest town of the New England Tablelands and as such has a reputation for coldness and snow in the winter months. It is the coldest, northernmost town in the country. The town is primarily a service centre for the surrounding wool, beef, potato and fat lamb-producing properties and it celebrates this economic base with a sculpture which combines a sheep with potatoes - it is located on the New England Highway - and an annual Guyra Lamb and Potato Festival. The town sits on the watershed of the Great Dividing Range with rivers and creeks to the east flowing down to the Pacific Ocean and rivers to the west heading towards the Murray-Darling basin and South Australia.

Location

Guyra is located 509 km north of Sydney via Stroud and Walcha, 551 km via Muswellbrook and Tamworth, and 425 km south-west of Brisbane via Warwick and Glen Innes.

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Origin of Name

It is accepted that "Guyra" was the name given to an early property in the district and that the word came from the local Anaiwan Aborigines and meant either "fishing place" or "white cockatoo".

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Things to See and Do

Guyra Historical Museum
The Guyra Historical Museum is located in the old Shire Council building in Bradley Street and is open by appointment, tel: (02) 6779 2132. It is a typical rural museum with local artifacts and a photographic collection relating to the district.

Antique Farm Machinery Museum
Located in the town's old railway station, the Antique Farm Machinery Museum boasts a wide range of historic farm equipment from horse and tractor drawn implements as well as chaff cutters, water pumps, sheep shearing equipment and other pieces of historic equipment. It can be opened by appointment, tel: (02) 6779 1621.

Mother of Ducks Lagoon Nature Reserve
Located to the south-west of Guyra (drive along Bradley Street and turn west on McKie Drive) the Mother of Ducks Lagoon is a freshwater swamp at the western edge of town. It is, in fact, part of a volcanic crater with a circumference of 14 km. The lagoon is a breeding and feeding habitat for waterbirds such as the common greenshanks, white-throated needletails, eastern swamp hen, black swan, Japanese snipe (which travels between the lagoon and Japan), black duck, straw-necked ibis and grass whistling duck. There is an excellent birdwatching platform at the eastern edge of the lagoon. For more information check out http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Mother-of-Ducks-Lagoon-Nature-Reserve/Visitor-Info.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Baxter's Farm Museum
Located 34 km west of Guyra (Head west on the Tingha - Inverell Road and  after 18 km turn on to the Tenterden Road then, after 10 km turn right on to the Moredun Dams Road (gravel) and it is another 5 km) Baxter's Farm Museum has a large and diverse array of historic items. There are domestic items, farm machinery, a bottle collection, arts and crafts all set in charming gardens. It is by appointment only, tel: (02) 6779 4535.

Little Llangothlin Nature Reserve
Located 10 km north of Guyra is a tiny village of Llangothlin. 5 km further north is Tubbamurra Road which leads to Little Llangothlin Nature Reserve, a 257 ha reserve which includes Little Llangothlin lagoon and Billy Bung lagoon. Both are high altitude wetlands which have been listed with the Ramsar Convention because they are ideal for birdwatchers and nature lovers. There is an easy 5 km walking circuit around the main lake which is home to waterbirds and bush birds, particularly rosellas. There is a downloadable sheet at http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Little-Llangothlin-Nature-Reserve/Visitor-Info#Maps-and-downloads. It includes a useful map and a comprehensive list of the birds that can be found on the lagoons.

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History

* Prior to European settlement the area was occupied by the Anaiwan Aborigines.

* In 1835 Alexander Campbell established Guyra Station.

* Peter McIntyre is said to have occupied the land around the townsite in 1836.

* Ollera', north-west of town, was selected in 1838 by George and John Everett.

* By 1848 Guyra had extended to 15,000 acres and was leased by Charles Marsh.

* Tin was discovered at Tingha in 1872 and at its height the town had 7,000 residents.

* The first church in Guyra was consecrated in 1876.

* Guyra Post Office was opened in 1877.

* The town did not start growing until the Great Northern Railway arrived in 1883.

* The village was gazetted and proclaimed on 20 March, 1885.

* There was extensive mining in the area by the end of the 19th century.

* Dairying had become a major economic activity by the end of the 19th century but potatoes proved a more enduring staple as they thrived on the rich, red soils.

* In 1960 the town achieved national attention when a local boy, Steven Walls, was lost for four days. This led to the largest search in Australian history and a hugely successful song "Little Boy Lost" by Johnny Ashcroft.

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Visitor Information

Guyra Visitor Information Centre, Rafters Restaurant and Cafe, New England Highway, tel: (02) 6779 1876.

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Useful Websites

The town's Tourism and Commerce Association has a useful website. Check out http://www.guyraonline.com.au.

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Got something to add?

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3 suggestions
  • Hi. My name is Jason I am an American and I visited Guyra on a trip to Australia back in 1986 when I was in High School. I had a pen-pal named Tracey Clark at the time. She had a brother named Michael. Her Dad was named John, and he was a mechanic in town. I am trying to get in touch with members of their family. Can you help me? My email address is: Jason.winoker@gmail.com.

    I’d appreciate your help.

    Sincerely,

    Jason

    Jason Winoker
  • I am a Canadian that was rock drilling for the DMR out of Glen Innes in the early ’70’s. I was able to go to a Slim Dusty Concert in Guyra. I am back in Canada now but most of my inner life is back in Australia and I often cry over my memories. Thank you Guyra for the chance to see Slim.
    Ian

    Ian Bond
  • Guyra is one of the most inhospitable towns in Australia. Very unfriendly and unwelcoming to non locals or potential new businesses.

    To be local one must have lived in Guyra for 25 years plus and have three generations live here beforehand.

    Therese James