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Henty, NSW

Small rural service centre between Wagga and Albury known as the 'home of the Headlie Taylor Header'.

Henty is a typical Australian rural service centre where the local economy is driven by the surrounding grain and sheep agriculture. Today Henty describes itself as the 'Home of the Header' because, in 1914, a local farmer named Headlie Taylor invented the header harvester which revolutionised the grain industry world wide.


Henty is located 518 km south-west of Sydney via the Hume, Sturt and Olympic Highways.


Origin of Name

The town was originally known as Dudal Cooma after the first pastoral holding in the area but it was seen as a confusion with the town of Cooma in the Monaro. So in 1891 it was changed to Henty - the name of a family of merchants and pastoralists who had been involved in the development of Victoria and Launceston. Edward Henty had leased Round Hill station south of Henty in the early 1860s.


Things to See and Do

Headlie Taylor Header & Blacksmith Shop
The Headlie Taylor Header and Blacksmith Shop is located in the Bicentennial Park on the Olympic Highway. The sign in the window explains the importance of the harvester perfectly: "This cereal harvesting machine was invented by Headlie Shipard Taylor (1883-1957) on his property 2 miles north of Henty and displayed at the Henty Show in 1914. In 1916 patent rights were purchased by H.V. McKay and mass produced in the Sunshine manufacturing works. This machine was reconstructed by members of the United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association using salvaged remains of the oldest machines available. The restoration took several months to complete with the help of many of people under the direction of Mr F. Howard of Mulbrulong. The Taylor Header is regarded as the greatest single contributing factor to the development of the world cereal industry. Modern combine harvesters are still constructed on the same principle."
In a lengthy article Headlie Taylor explained the genesis of his invention. He explained that he believed that he could build a harvesting machine that "would handle the grain crop more economically than a harvesting machine". He recognised that the hugely popular Sunshine Stripper Harvester was good but that it was not terribly efffective in "its efforts to rescue the grain from down and tangled crops were attended by considerable waste of grain." He built a workshop on his farm, purchased the necessary equipment, and started constructing his Header. His two brothers ran the farm while he experimented. By the harvest season of 1912-1913 he had a machine which he tested on 200 acres. It worked and he took out patents in October, 1913. He exhibited his machine at the Henty Show in 1914 and it was so successful that a number of local farmers offered him £50,000 to develop it commercially. He built three machines and they were all sold and then H.V. McKay stepped in, inspected the machine, was so impressed he purchased the patent, and immediately built six machines at his Sunshine Harvester factory. They were used to harvest the 1916-1917 crop. As Taylor writes in his conclusion: "The factory worked day and night and November and December of that year (1920) saw over a thousand of these machines driven into storm flattened crops, each machine equipped with a specially designed ‘Headlie’ croplifter (A set of wooden fingers that lift the crop up onto the comb). There was no doubt of the result. Astonished farmers found themselves securing over thirty bushels of wheat to the acre from crops which they had believed were completely ruined. Never before had down and tangled crops been harvested without heavy loss. Australian farmers were richer by millions of bushels of rescued grain, and the Sunshine Header had won its position as the greatest of all harvesting machines. My dreams were an accomplished fact."
If you want to read the entire story check out http://www.henty.nsw.au/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=w8Fx2Z0PUPc%3d&tabid=203 which was writtten by Headlie Taylor and provides an explanation of why his wheat header was so revolutionary.

Henty Cellar Museum
Located under the town's IGA and open only by appointment, the Henty Cellar Museum is a reminder of a time before refrigeration when, in the heat of the Riverina, perishables were stored in the cellar. It has been turned into a museum and contains such town treasures as the town's manual telephone exchange, Henty's first ambulance (a 2 wheel stretcher jinker) an early model organ plus a variety of other musical instruments, radios, cash registers, tea tins, irons, toasters and other trash and treasure. To inspect it contact (02) 6929 3302.

Henty Printing Museum
A printery was established in Henty in 1906 but it was destroyed by fire in 1933 and a brick building replaced it. When the local paper started being printed in Temora the building evolved into a printing museum. Today, for those interested in printing, it contains "two Linotype machines, several Platen machines, a royal 1907 Wharfedale printing press, a Miehle automatic printing press, a perforation machine, an early hand operated guillotine and many cabinets of draws containing a variety of sizes of metal type fonts". To inspect the museum contact (02) 6929 3302.


Other Attractions in the Area

Searching for Mad Dog Morgan
Henty is an important chapter in the career of the infamous career of bushranger Dan 'Mad Dog' Morgan who terrorised the district from 1862-65. The son of convict parents Morgan was probably a man named Jack Fuller who had been born in Appin around 1830. He was sentenced to twelve years hard labour for highway robbery in 1854. At the time he called himself John Smith, gave his occupation as jockey, and served six years before being released on a ticket-of-leave. It is claimed that he emerged from gaol a bitter, resentful, brooding and vengeful man. A skilled horse thief he moved on to highway robbery and acts of violence, committing the first of four murders in 1863. At the time he went by the name of "Billy the Native". Morgan earned some sympathy from the poor for his attention to their welfare and his focus on the property of the landed gentry.
A description of his physical appearance has been left by one of his pursuers, a Detective Manwaring: "He was distinguished by his immense black beard flowing to his breast. His hair hung over his shoulders in gipsy ringlets. His height was nearly six feet. He was stout and muscular but weak in the knees and walked awkwardly. When mounted on horseback he was unsurpassed as a rider. His head had no crown. The forehead was small and angular. The nose was .. massive and straight but terminating in a peculiar hook which curved over the upper lip. This, with small clear blue eyes gave him the appearance of a ferocious bird of prey."
In June, 1864 newspapers around the country publicised Morgan's violent behaviour at Round Hill station near Culcairn. Morgan rounded everybody at the station up, forced them to drink alcohol (except himself), was about to depart and, according to one account, fell into a rage when the manager, Sam Watson, claimed that his (Morgan's) stirrups were stolen. Another version suggests that Morgan, thinking he'd been fired upon, shot and wounded Watson, when his own gun accidentally went off. Morgan shot and wounded Watson, ran around firing indiscriminately, shot John Heriott, the son of a neighbouring grazier, chased another individual and then returned to Heriott, placing a gun to his temple. When Watson said "For God's sake, Morgan, don't kill anyone", he became compassionate, swore he would kill everyone who did not come to Heriott's assistance, carried him to a bed and agreed that overseer John McLean should go to Walla Walla to fetch a doctor. He insisted that McLean could go if he promised not to head in the opposite direction towards Ten Mile Creek and the police. When Heriott's condition improved Morgan headed for Ten Mile Creek, found McLean and shot him and then returned to Round Hill. He left just before the police arrived. McLean died three days later. The reward money for Morgan quickly escalated. When he bailed up Henry Baylis near Urana the money was £200. After killing McLean and Sergeant David Maginnity near Tumbarumba it rose to £1000. By September, 1863 he had also killed a Sergeant Smyth. The Australian Dictionary of Biography points out that "Between January and March 1865 Morgan seemed ubiquitous. He was credited with no less than six major robberies of coaches and pastoral stations and the attempted murder of a stock-keeper at Wallandbool. In March the government of New South Wales introduced the Felons Apprehension Act, which made him an outlaw. Next month Morgan crossed the Murray to settle his old score with Evans and Bond. Reaching Whitfield on 7 April, he bailed up the head station. Evan Evans was not there. Morgan headed north and held up traffic on the Sydney Road between Benalla and Glenrowan. On the evening of 8 April he bailed up the Macpherson homestead at Peechelba, north of Wangaratta, unaware that the station's co-owner George Rutherford lived less than a quarter of a mile (0.4 km) away. Alice Keenan, the Macphersons' nurse, carried news to Rutherford, who rounded up his workforce, selected and armed five trustworthy men and sent them to watch at Peechelba homestead. Police and armed vigilantes augmented the party. Next morning, as the bushranger walked towards the stockyards to select a horse to continue his flight, he was shot from behind by John Wendlan. Morgan died at about 1.45 p.m. on 9 April 1865. Locks were cut from his hair, his body was publicly displayed at Wangaratta, his beard was flayed from his face as a souvenir and his head severed, to be forwarded to the professor of anatomy at the University of Melbourne. He was buried on 14 April in Wangaratta cemetery."

Mad Dog Morgan and the Death of Sergeant Smyth
Located 2 km west of Henty on Pleasant Hills Road is a memorial stone on the site where Morgan shot Sergeant Thomas Smyth in September 1864. The plaque was erected by the NSW Police Service and reads: "A memorial to Senior Sergeant Thomas Smyth, aged 29. A member of the NSW Police Force shot by bushranger Dan Morgan in the surrounding hills on 4 September 1864. Senior Sergeant Smyth received a gunshot wound to his left shoulder and convalesced at the Imperial Hotel, Albury until 29 September, 1864 where he haemorraged as a result of the gunshot wound and died. He is buried in an unmarked grave in the Albury cemetery. Dan Morgan was a murderer with a £1000 price on his head. Senior Sergeant Smyth gave his life while in the pursuit of Morgan who although a tourist attraction these days put fear in the people of the district in the 1860s."

Government Dam
Located 750 metres off the Olympic Highway via Pleasant Hills Road the Henty Government Dam Nature Reserve can boast up to 140 different bird species and two walking tracks which allow visitors to enjoy the native vegetation and regional wildlife which form a part of a Wildlife Corridor between Henty and Pleasant Hills. There is a pleasant picnic ground.

The Henty Man
Located between the towns of Henty and Culcairn on the Olympic Highway just south of Henty, is the Henty Man. This man was originally shaped by an itinerant worker in the early 1930s from a tree burnt out by a swagman's fire. The sign at the site explains: "This man was originally shaped by an itinerant worker in the 1930s from a tree burnt out by a swagman's fire. It became a District landmark until it was destroyed by natural elements about 20 years later. Prior to the Henty Centenary in 1986 it was decided by local identities to restore "The Man" for that occasion and this was done with the help of the Culcairn Shire Council. At the Centenary celebrations it was dedicated by Cr. Hugh McKay to the "men of the road" who through no fault of their own had to walk the length and breadth of Australia during the Great Depression seeking work, many being forced to beg for food. Many then regained their dignity by defending Australia during World War II, some never to return, others enjoying the better days of the 1950s and the 1960s." For more information check out https://www.warmemorialsregister.nsw.gov.au/content/henty-man.

Pleasant Hills
Located 25 km west of Henty is the small village of Pleasant Hills which was officially proclaimed in 1892. The small township is notable for the Pleasant Hills Community Hotel, the first community owned hotel in New South Wales which was erected in 1917-18. The hotel licence was sold in 1999 and the hotel closed.  However the community rallied and established the first Community Licence in NSW. The hotel reopened on 23 March, 2000. Today it is the focal point for all the community being both the hotel, the post office and a general store.
The township was settled by German immigrants in the late 19th century and consequently it has a strong German ambience. The Lutheran Cemetery has headstones in German; there is a wattle-and-daub Lutheran Church built in 1888 and still in use today; and the street names include Terlich, Eulenstein, Schiller, Quast, Pertzel, Lieschke, Knobel, Haberecht, Zucker, Pumpa and Scheuner - families who migrated to the town. The flora on the Esplanade in the centre of the village is particularly attractive and the Public Hall (1912) is made of local pine and features a mural and local memorabilia. Check out http://visitlockhartshire.com.au/our-towns/pleasant-hills.aspx for greater details and for a downloadable map of the small township.



* Prior to European settlement the area was occupied by the Wiradjuri Aboriginal people.

* The first European to explore the area was Major Thomas Mitchell who passed through in 1835.

* The bushranger Dan 'Mad Dog' Morgan shot Senior Sergeant Thomas Smyth on 4 September, 1864. Smyth died on 29 September 1864.

* The first pastoral holding in the area was known as 'Dudal Cooma' and taken up in 1866 by the Reighlan brothers.

* In 1868 German families from South Australia reached the area. They were looking for land to settle.

* When the railway arrived in 1880 the stop was called Dudal Cooma.

* The town's first store opened in 1885.

* The town name was changed to Henty in 1891. It was named after Edward Henty who had leased Round Hill station south of Henty in the early 1860s.

* A printery was established in the town in 1906.

* In 1914 the Headlie Taylor Header was demonstrated at the Henty Show.

* In 1998 Henty became the first town in New South Wales to open a branch of the Bendigo Bank.


Visitor Information

Henty does not have a Visitor Information Office. The closest is the Wagga Wagga Visitor Information Centre, 183 Tarcutta Street, tel: 1300 100 122. It is open from 9.00am-5.00pm seven days a week.


Useful Websites

There is a modest, community run website - http://www.henty.nsw.au - which offers useful information about the shire and the town.

Got something to add?

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

3 suggestions
  • Hi, I’m a descendant of George Rutherford. My name is Tammy Johnston (nee Rutherford) and my father’s name is Phillip Rutherford. We are trying to piece this family together. We are interested to find out how George had anything to do with Peechelba Station as Gideon Rutherford seems to be the main name when researching, which is George’s brother. George married Spence, his son Gideon married Willding. Dad’s father is Andrew de vere Rutherford. Any information or guidance to find out this information would be much appreciated. Thanks for your time

  • I would love to visit Henty one day. Also I would love to play some cricket matches at Henty as well. Thanks! Kind Regards Kush Kumar Singh

    Kush Kumar Singh
  • To whom it may concern
    My family history research has led me to Henty, my grandmother Flora Bowles, brother of Alfred who owned the shoe shop in Henty attended Henty school in possibly 1917, is there any school records of student enrolments?

    warren pearce