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Mendooran, NSW

'Town of Murals' and the oldest town on the Castlereagh River.

Mendooran is a small rural village on the edge of the Goonoo National Park. Many of the buildings are now empty as the town competes with the nearby larger centres of Gilgandra and Dubbo. The main appeal of the town, apart from the fact that it is the oldest town on the Castlereagh River, are the murals around town (an opportunity to walk around) which depict the history of the area. 

Location

Mendooran is located 379 kilometres north-west of Sydney via the Great Western Highway and the road through Mudgee and Dunedoo. It is 271 metres above sea level.

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Origin of Name

No one is sure about the origin of the name It is probably derived by Mendooran which was the name of the first property owned by Europeans. There is an argument that the name comes from Mundoo or Mundo, a Wiradjuri leader who lived in the district. The idea that the town's name "Mundoo" and "ran" is because, on seeing Europeans, Mundoo ran away, seem fanciful. There is another interpretation which says it is a corruption of "mundowie" meaning "footprint". See the comments for a further, and darker, suggestion.

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Things to See and Do

Mendooran Murals
In the late 1990s local artist Karin Duce started painting historical, woolshed and bushland murals relating to Mendooran on the walls of buildings around the town. It was part of a determined effort to get people to stop in Mendooran which, at the time, was dying. The result is a reminder of the life led by early settlers with images of bullocks, sheep, horses and rural life.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Banjo Paterson's The Travelling Post Office 
The town is mentioned in Banjo Paterson's poem 'The Travelling Post Office': 

The roving breezes come and go, the reed beds sweep and sway, 
The sleepy river murmurs low, and loiters on its way,
It is the land of lots o' time along the Castlereagh.
The old man's son had left the farm, he found it dull and slow,
He drifted to the great north-west where all the rovers go.
"He's gone so long," the old man said, "he's dropped right out of mind,
But if you'd write a line to him I'd take it very kind
He's shearing here and fencing there, a kind of waif and stray,
He's droving now with Conroy's sheep along the Castlereagh.
The sheep are travelling for the grass, and travelling very slow:
They may be at Mundooran now, or past the Overflow.

Today Mendooran (the spelling has changed since Paterson wrote the poem) is small and sleepy. It is a convenient stopover for people heading towards the Warrumbungles.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the town was home to the Wiradjuri Aboriginal people.

* The first European to explore the area was John Evans in 1815.

* Evans was followed in 1817 by the explorer, John Oxley, who passed through the district.

* The town is reputedly the oldest settlement on the Castlereagh River being an important crossing point as early as the 1830s. 

* By the 1840s it was a popular stopping point.

* In 1850 Surveyor General Thomas Mitchell officially laid out the town.

* Land was being bought and sold by 1856. 

* By the late 1850s John Cameron had settled in the area. 

* The John Bull Inn was operating by the 1860s.

* By 1866 there were 24 people living in the district.

* A bridge across the Castlereagh River was completed in 1869.

* The town was all but destroyed by a flood in 1874.

* A school, court house and police station were all built in the early 1880s.

* The Mechanics Institute was completed in 1935.

* The town experienced a serious flood in 1955.

* The actor, John Hargreaves, worked as a school teacher at Mendooran Central School in the early 1960s.

* In the late 1990s Karin Duce started painting the distinctive murals which are now part of the town's attraction.

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Visitor Information

There is no Visitor Information in Mendooran. Check out the Gulgong Visitor Information Centre, 66 Herbert Street, Gulgong, tel: (02) 6374 2691 or 1800 816 304.

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Useful Websites

There is a brief entry on the Warrumbungle Region website. Check out http://www.warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au/2016-tourism/our-country-towns.

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Got something to add?

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

4 suggestions
  • You didn’t mention the free camping area on the banks of the Castlereagh. I have enjoyed my stopover here. May I suggest better access to the river. I would have loved to cool off with a swim but not easy to get to river. Also attended your Christmas Park party. Thank you for your hospitality. I haven’t bought tickets in the ham wheel for ages, thought they were no more. Awesome! Will be telling fellow travellers about this little known destination.

    Irene R ISON
  • I am the owner of the Mendooran Cafe. I would like to correct your statement that the shops are closed due to having to compete with nearby towns. Perhaps you should have asked the shop owners the reasons why. The little cafe is a thriving and popular place for many a weary traveller, families holidaying and the lovely locals. The only reason we have been unable to be open on a regular basis is due to serious medical reasons. It’s a shame that you didn’t ask the right people about the shops in town and your statement could be detrimental to our little town. The cafe building is one of the original buildings and has a lovely historical feel. I suggest more research in the future. Thankyou

    Mrs Sharon Hellegers
  • Ah my home town! A peaceful little place. Shops are closing because the curse of the small town has caught us too. People leave for an easier life. Services we do have are much appreciated and friendly. Post office including multiple services including internet, newsagent with “corner store” goods (food and grocery, feed and fuel), mechanic, two fuel stops, the quaint craft shop, the RSL and Bowling club and of course the pub and a pre school and central school. The free camping area is beautifully situated on the junction of the castlereagh river and merrygoen creek and is a popular stop due to it’s beautiful location. The town is scenic and mostly friendly, it’s such a shame to see it slowly dying. Its location offers so much potential being an alternative to highway driving between dubbo and coonabarabran… these little towns appreciate each and every person who stops in and keeps us going. Yearly events include the local show, usually in the last weekend of March, the races always the first weekend in September, the rodeo third weekend in October- all have that delightful.country charm and are great fun. Well worth an afternoon and start over and a beer at all three locations you can buy one.

    Proud local
  • The explanation of the origins of the name ‘Mundooran’ seems to have been watered down a little since I was younger. My father’s family were among the early settlers of the Castlereagh- Hobbs, Keens, Hedgers- and the story I had received was that MUNDO was the local tribal leader, who, after the organised massacre of the local Wiradjuri people, was given the option to run or be slain with his people. He ran- and the town became known as MUNDOORAN, retaining the name up until the First World War. I doubt if this can be verified however, given that although a blind eye was often turned to aboriginal massacres, they were not to be flaunted thereby forcing the hand of constabulary answerable to the newspapers and politicians in Sydney. This was the story that was commonly accepted among people of my generation within the town however.

    Tony Keen