Historic and important railway town on the South West Slopes of New South Wales
Junee is a railway town. Its premier attraction is the huge Junee Railway Roundhouse & Museum and the railway station dominates the centre of town. Today the railway is still important but not in the way it was when the railway was essential to the town's economy. Junee has a charming old-fashioned ambience produced by its wide verandas, lamp posts, veranda posts, hitching rings, old-style buildings and elegant streets. Today the decline of the railway has left it as a remnant of the 1870s although the surrounding South West Slopes are a rich and productive agricultural heartland producing canola, wheat, oats, barley, wool, fat lambs with boutique vineyards, olive groves and deer farms being important.
Junee is located 440 km south-west of Sydney via the Hume Motorway and Gundagai; 478 km via Bathurst and Cowra; and 41 km north-east of Wagga Wagga. It is 320 metres above sea-level.^ TOP
Origin of Name
It is widely accepted that Junee is a Wiradjuri Aboriginal word meaning "speak to me". It was originally spelt Jewnee which was the name of a pastoral run established in the district in the 1840s.^ TOP
Things to See and Do
There are two very comprehensive Heritage Walks around the town. One is the Eastern Walk and the other is the Western Walk.
The East Side
The East Side brochure lists a total of 22 places of interest. It points out that Junee was the only town built on a greenfield site during the construction of the Great Southern Railway. In 1878 the NSW Government seized 40 acres on the eastern side of the railway and planned an official town. In 1883 a town, named Loftus, was proclaimed, surveyed and auctioned. By 1885 the name had been changed to Junee.
An amusing footnote to the early history of the town is that Christopher William Crawley, anticipating the arrival of the railway, purchased 320 acres on the east of the future railway line and 520 acres on the west. He is known as the father of the town but his role would have been greater if he had subdivided and sold his land. Instead he leased his property at inflated rates and as a result two other developers, George Dobbyns and Thomas Hammond, purchased adjoining land and sold it. The result, even today, is that Junee is still divided into East and West.
Of particular interest are:
Railway Station and Refreshment Rooms
The first railway station was a modest timber building which was destroyed by fire in 1882. A new railway station was designed in the fashionable French Renaissance style and built between 1883-1885 under the supervision of John Whitton, Chief Engineer of the NSW government railways. It features a cast-iron entrance veranda and the Refreshment Room was lit by gaslights and featured imported furniture. The East Side brochure explains: "Upstairs were three sitting rooms, 'furnished with great taste and with some handsome and expensive pictures’, to quote a contemporary report. It also had a number of bedrooms, bathrooms and flushing water closets - the bedrooms fitted with ‘handsome suites’ ... To support the new sanitary arrangements and to provide for drinking water, it was necessary to harvest as much water as possible and store it. Two large underground tanks were built, plus twenty iron tanks in the roof of the Refreshment Rooms, to supply water to the upstairs rooms." It really was the essence of sophistication and, at the time, Junee was nothing more than a small railway town in the bush.
2. The Railway Square Shops
These shops date from 1923-25 and were originally the site for the Railway Gasworks which provided the station, refreshment rooms and hotel with gas for lighting. Railway carriages, until the 1930s, also had gas lighting.
3. Post Office
The post office, at 119 Lorne Street, was constructed in 1888 and was considered an unusual design for a postal building. A painted brick, two-storey building, it features a veranda (the original building did not have a veranda - the current one was added in 1898) perched upon eight pairs of iron columns which were cast at the local Cohoe & Walster's Pioneer Foundry.
5. Commonwealth Saving Bank
Completed in 1914 in a neo-Georgian style and only a single storey, this building (now privately owned as a house) had the second storey added in 1938. It is located on the corner of Belmore and Lorne Street.
6. Court House
Located on Belmore Street, the town's Court House was designed by the Colonial Architect, James Barnet, and built in 1890. Architecturally is has a high ceiling, verandas around the sides, a gabled roof, arched windows and quoins and the cast iron brackets on the veranda have VRI dating them to the reign of Queen Victoria.
11. Belmore Manor
This elegant building has a remarkably chequered career. Located at 30 Belmore Street, it was built as two terrace houses in 1886 but was badly damaged by fire in 1930. It was then, after extensive alterations, turned into a private hospital before becoming a private hotel. Today, after more renovations, it has been turned into an attractive Bed and Breakfast place. Check out http://www.belmoremanor.com.au for details.
20. Commercial Hotel
Located on the corner of Lorne and Waratah Streets, is the Commercial Hotel which was built in 1882 and then rebuilt in 1898 with a large veranda and balcony. A fire in 1914 partially destroyed it and the current Federation structure was built of bricks in 1915 and features an elegant cast iron balustrade and a stuccoed panelled decorated roof parapet.
21. Loftus Hotel
Located across from the railway station at the corner of Main Street and Humphrys Street, the Loftus Hotel is a monument to the opulence of the early town. Today it is Junee's oldest and grandest establishment which occupies an entire block. The East Side brochure explains its interior: "Trade flourished for J J Edmonds, the proprietor, and in 1896 he commissioned Albury architects Gordon & Gordon to design the present building. It is an impressive and complex building, drawing on the more Italianate elements of the Beaux Arts style popular at the time. The interior was equally lavish and boasted bathrooms and flushing toilets, not common then. Several sitting rooms and two dining rooms added to the comfort of guests. The original hotel was demolished c. 1906 and the hotel extended on the Main Street side to reach its present form. The extensive and lofty veranda over the footpath, with a balcony to the first floor trimmed with a cast iron balustrade from the Pioneer Foundry, adds to the visual pleasures given by this late Victorian masterpiece."
The West Side
The West Side brochure offers a superb explanation for Junee's strange division between the East and the West. "In 1876 Christopher Crawley selected land on both sides of the new railway line, the western part directly in front of the new Railway Station. In 1878 he opened his Railway Hotel and rapidly made a small fortune. As the settlement grew, many wished to buy land, but he was reluctant to part with any, selling only a few blocks at hugely inflated prices. He then sold his hotel and with the proceeds, plus the sale of land, was able to retire, build his grand ‘Monte Cristo’ homestead and lead the life of a gentleman farmer. His refusal to sell land led the town to develop in a most illogical way. George Dobbyns was a different type of person, energetic and civic minded. He started a store in 1876 on Crawley’s land, which was an immediate success. He quickly added a bakery, post office and bank. However in 1880 he saw a chance to purchase land for development and bought 40 acres to the south of the official village. By 1881 he had it surveyed and put up for sale. The same year he sold his store and concentrated his business interest on the eastern side. Unlike Crawley, he was heavily involved in civic matters and was Mayor of the town on several occasions."
The brochure lists 11 buildings on the eastern side of the railway line although it does not include Monte Cristo and the Railway Roundhouse. Of the buildings the most interesting are:
2. Solicitors Office
Standing rather incongruously beside the huge Hotel Junee, this small two storied building with its unusual cantilevered balcony was built in 1885. It was the Union Bank for twenty years and then became a solicitor's office. Clever additions are the arched door and window openings on the ground floor.
4. Hotel Junee
Hotel Junee, formerly known as the Railway Hotel, was the town's first hotel when it opened in 1878. It was part of Christopher Crawley's plans for the town and in the early years made the grazier a lot of money. Crawley sold the hotel in 1884 and by 1911 the new owner was building the current Art Nouveau style building. The current structure includes a two-storey veranda and there are two false parapet gables.
7. War Memorial and Broadway Street
This is a wonderfully wide street with a central median strip which includes this handsome and dominant War Memorial which was paid for by public subscription, designed in a Neo-Georgian style, and erected in the 1920s to recall the sacrifice of townsfolk who fought and died in World War I.
11. Broadway Museum
Located on Broadway Street and housed in the old Broadway Hotel, the museum offers an extensive display of photographs and memorabilia associated with the history of the town and the surrounding district. It is open from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and from 9.30 am - 4.30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. tel: (02) 6924 1832 or check out http://www.visitjunee.com.au/visit/attractions/broadway-museum.aspx. The West Side brochure notes: "Originally called the Royal Hotel, established in 1885, it was a single storied structure with a veranda. In 1914 the present building was constructed, the style having echoes of the Indian Raj with the striped facade and the false dome shape in the centre of the parapet. The decorative cast iron work was made at the local Pioneer Foundry."
The Roundhouse Rail and Transport Museum
Junee is a railway town and the The Roundhouse Rail and Transport Museum, at the southern end of town, is a powerful reminder of the town's relationship with the railway. The museum has been constructed around the huge 100 foot (32 metre) train turntable and is the only full circle brick building in the state. When the roundhouse was built in 1947 it was the largest circular railway roundhouse in the Southern Hemisphere. The maintenance crews worked on every class of steam and diesel locomotive. It still is used for commercial reconditioning. The museum has extensive exhibits including a wooden mail van, a number of locomotives, trikes and quadracycles, a steam crane which is still in working order, a breakdown van and the original workshop which was so large it had a 42-repair bay. There is also a large model train. The Museum is open Monday to Friday from noon to 4.30 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9.30 am to 4.3o pm. Guided tours are available, tel: (02) 6924 2909 or check out http://www.roundhousemuseum.com.au. There is also a downloadable brochure - http://www.roundhousemuseum.com.au/images/Junee.pdf.
Monte Cristo Homestead - The Haunted House
Monte Cristo Historical Homestead is an impressive two-storey Victorian-era mansion which was built in 1884 by grazier and developer, Christopher William Crawley. In 1876 Crawley purchased land (520 acres on one side and 320 acres on the other side) around the Great Southern Railway Line hoping to exploit the arrival of the railway which opened in 1878. He built the Railway Hotel and very quickly made his fortune. Monte Cristo was Crawley's statement about his importance within the town. It sat on the hill overlooking the town and was the finest house in the district. He was able to retire and live the life of a gentleman. In the 1960s the home was purchased by Reginald and Olive Ryan and carefully restored in High Victorian style. It features wide balconies balanced on slender iron columns and decorated with cast-iron lacework. There are fine views across the town from the upper veranda. The mansion, stables and outbuildings are a combination of a museum with antique furniture, glassware and collectables and an elegant bed and breakfast accommodation option. The stables and outbuildings contain a collection of horse-drawn carriages.
Today its greatest claim to fame is that it is "Australia's Most Haunted House". It has attracted television and radio programs and such arcane organisations as the Sydney Spirit Stalkers and the South Coast Ghosts both of whom have spent a night hoping to commune with the dead. The list of paranormal phenomena associated with the house include bright lights in the house when no one is home; feelings of sadness in some rooms; difficulty in breathing in certain rooms; seeing figures; hearing voices; mists appearing in photographs; people being touched in the dark; and animals being mutilated. Reginald Ryan died in 2014. His wife still runs the Ghost Tours and provides accommodation. The building is located at 1 Homestead Lane and is open for inspection from Friday to Monday between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm. tel: (02) 6924 1637 or check out http://www.montecristo.com.au.
Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory
Located at 45-61 Lord Street, the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory occupies the restored Junee Flour Mill and specialises in a range of organic confectionaries including licorice and chocolate. The factory is operated by Green Grove Organics which, in turn, operate the “Green Grove” farm, an 1100 ha organic operation situated near Ardlethan.
The Junee Flour Mill was built in 1934-35 and was soon producing 5.6 million bushels of flour per year. The mill has been restored and a modern stone mill has been installed. The current mill converts grain grown on the Green Grove farm into produce for inclusion in licorice, flour and bread mixes. As they proudly point out on their website: "Organic licorice attempts to adhere to the traditional methods of growing and making licorice that combines the taste and the health benefits of this ancient herb."
The operation is open seven days from 9.00 am - 4.00 pm and guided tours runs every hour, on the hour, from 10.00 am - 3.00 pm. For more information check out https://www.greengroveorganics.com.au/the-junee-licorice-and-chocolate-factory.
* Prior to European occupation the area was occupied by the Wiradjuri Aborigines.
* By the 1840s Europeans had moved in and the 'Jewnee' pastoral run had been established.
* The district's first post office opened in 1862 at Jewnee, 8 km from June.
* A village named 'Jewnee' was gazetted in 1863. It was located on the wool road to Sydney.
* In 1863 Ben Hall's bushranging gang raided the village and held up the Jewnee Hotel and Hammond's Jewnee run homestead.
* In 1866 the population of Jewnee village was recorded as twelve.
* In 1867 members of Blue Cap's bushranging gang held up the Jewnee Hotel.
* By the mid-1860s there were a number of alluvial gold mining sites in the district including Junee Reefs and Eurongilly. They continued to be mined until the 1880s.
* In 1876 the grazier and businessman Christopher Crawley selected 320 acres to the east and 520 acres to the west - upon which the railway would pass. He built the Railway Hotel in 1877.
* On 6 July, 1878 the Great Southern Railway reached the district although it passed 8 km east of the established village.
* In 1879 a Methodist Church and the first school were opened at Jewnee.
* A railway station was built in 1881 at Junee Junction. It burnt down in 1882.
* A branch of the Union Bank of Australia Ltd was opened in 1882.
* The new settlement was known as Junee Junction but was formally named 'Loftus' in 1883. Loftus was the name of the Governor of New South Wales.
* In 1884 the local Catholic Church was consecrated.
* The town was gazetted in 1885 and the name was changed to Junee. That year a branch of the Bank of New South Wales was opened.
* Local government was established in the town in 1886.
* In 1888 the town held its first Junee Show. That same year the local Post Office was built.
* An impressive Court House was built in 1890. It was designed by James Barnet.
* In 1906 the Shire of Illabo was proclaimed.
* In 1936 a flour mill commenced production.
* The town's Olympic Swimming pool was opened in 1938.
* In 1952 the largest wheat terminal in the Southern Hemisphere was built near the town.^ TOP
Junee Visitor Information Centre, Broadway Museum, 84-86 Broadway Street, tel: (02) 6924 3246.^ TOP
There is a very comprehensive and useful local website - http://www.youmeandjunee.com.au - which provides details including accommodation and eating information.^ TOP