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Koorawatha, NSW

Township famous for a gun battle between police and the bushranger Ben Hall.

The appeal of the tiny settlement of Koorawatha lies in the remnants of old buildings and the cairn marking the site of a notable shootout between bushrangers and the police. It is a great compliment to Edgar F. Penzig, a tireless chronicler of the deeds of bushrangers, that the cairn provides so much valuable information and allows visitors to imagine the mayhem of the fight at the old Bang Bang Hotel.

Location

Koorawatha on the Olympic Highway between Cowra and Young, is located 333 km west of Sydney via Bathurst and Cowra and 390 km via Yass and Boorowa.

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Origin of Name

It is claimed that 'koorawatha' is a Wiradjuri word for 'pine trees'.

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Things to See and Do

The Site of the Gun Battle
There is a well-preserved cairn where the old Bang Bang Hotel used to be. To reach the cairn turn off the Olympic Highway toward Koorawatha Falls and continue until you reach Cowra Street. The cairn is on the left and the sign reads:

"The Bang Bang Hotel. This sign marks the site of the old Bang Bang Hotel. On Friday 20th May, 1864 Ben Hall, John Gilbert & James Gordon tried to steal some racehorses stabled at the rear of the hotel. The bushrangers were driven off after a fierce battle with Constables Scott & McNamara. 25 to 30 shots were fired by the bushrangers and 9 by the police." Erected by Edgar F. Penzig, Pres. Wild Colonial Boys Society, 1964.

Koorawatha Falls
Often they are nothing more than a trickle but there is evidence that when the Bang Bang Creek floods the falls are definitely worth a visit. Follow the signs in town (it is clearly signposted) and, apart from the falls, there is an abundance of birdlife. One enthusiast noted the presence of the chestnut-rumped heathwren, brown-headed honeyeater, yellow thornbill and was rather hoping to see turquoise parrots. There is a list of the birds sighted near the falls at http://www.eremaea.com/Lists.aspx?List=128176

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History

There is only one reason for visiting Koorawatha: to reflect on one of Ben Hall's most infamous battles with the police. On 20 May, 1864 Hall and his colleagues James Gordon and Hall's notorious psychopath mate, Johnny Gilbert, attempted to hold up the Bang Bang Hotel (it was demolished in the 1940s) but were foiled by two policemen named Scott and McNamara who were with their horses in the stables at the back of the hotel when the holdup occurred. A gun battle ensued and Hall and his gang were forced to retreat. A rather romantic account records that the policemen fired on Hall as he rode away and knocked his hat off his head.

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Visitor Information

The best place for information about Koorawatha is the Young Visitor Information Centre which is located in Young's old railway station. Tel: (02) 6382 3394. It is open 9.00am-5.00pm Monday to Friday and 9.30am-4.00pm on weekends.

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Accommodation

Koorawatha Hotel, Olympic Highway, Koorawatha.

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Eating

Koorawatha Hotel, Olympic Highway, Koorawatha.

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Useful Websites

Go to http://www.visityoung.com.au/ and search for Koorawatha.

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Got something to add?

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

17 suggestions
  • Where is the waterfall that we can swim under?

    Ask for directions at the pub or the General Store.

    Nat
  • Is it possible to fish at the waterfall?

    Fred
  • I’m looking for information of John William Byrne and wife Ada Katherine, my grandparents. My father Hedley Byrne was born in Koorawatha in 1925. Thank you.

    catherine byrne
    • My family on my mother’s side and the Bang Bang Hotel. Family legend has it that when they found out Ben Hall’s gang was coming, it was a mad dash to hide belongings. One of Hall’s men caught my G..G..G..G grandmother hiding jewels in the latrine area. He started slapping her around. Ben Hall saw this, smacked the guy and allowed my GGGG grandmother to hide the jewels and promised not to take them. Very cool history and never visited but want to in next couple years.

      Ronnie Berg
  • My mother Ida Morcom was born in Koorawatha on 26/12/1908. Parents: R J Morcom and Amelia Whitaker. You missed that!

    Daphne Ashby
  • Looking for information on Lavinia Esther Talbot born 1899 -1900-1901 not sure. 13 in the family I believe there may be some siblings buried in Koorawatha cemetery. Please give me any information you may have. No one other than myself in this family is alive. My grandmother was Lavinia. Thank you in advance. Kind regards

    Sheena Endicott
  • My Mother, Lucy (Dolly) Hill was also born in Koorawatha 7th October 1908. She lived all of her married life in Melbourne and married Harold Young. They had 4 Children of which I was the youngest. Her Brothers Jack and Tom lived in “Koora” all their lives and Tom ran a business there for many years.

    Norm Young
  • My Mother was born in Koorawatha on 7th October 1908. As I understand it, her Grand Mother built and operated the Bang Bang Hotel in the 1860’s and was present during the Ben Hall raid.

    Norm Young
  • My Mother, Lucy (Dolly) Hill was born in Koorawatha 7th October 1908. Her two brothers Jack and Tom lived there all their lives and Tom ran a business there. Lucy (Dolly) married Harold Young and moved to Melbourne. They had 4 childres and I am the youngest.

    Norm Young
    • Norm… I am wondering if you know the Armstrong’s?. My Grandmothers parents were Armstrong’s and born there (I believe but not certain)…later moved to Wagga Wagga then Melbourne.

      Ronnie Berg
      • I know the Armstrongs. My father was Horace Armstrong born in Koorawatha in 1916. His father was George Armstrong.

        Mick Armstrong
        • Mick…My Grandmother was his sister, Beryl. She passed last year aged 96. I remember uncle Horry….I think that is how you spell it….I remember he loved a conversation. Came around to Highett a number of times. I believe we are cousins!!!
          I live here in USA….San Diego.

          Ronnie Berg
  • The History Book written for the school centenary can be purchased from the school. Lots of photos of local buildings and information.

    Norma Clarke
  • My father Reginald Harvey started a garage in Koorawatha in the 1920s, and my brother was born there in 1928. Reg and my mother Lucy used to rescue broken down cars between Cowra and Young and tow them back to K, where he would work on them. Anyone with memories of the old garage in Koorawatha?

    Francis Harvey