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Moulamein, NSW

The oldest town in the Riverina.

Today it is hard to believe that by the middle of the 19th century Moulamein was the most important administrative centre in the Riverina. Today it is a quiet little town on the banks of the Edward River and Billabong Creek servicing the surrounding wheat and rice-growing properties.

Location

Moulamein is located 855 km south-west of Sydney via Yass, Wagga, Narrandera and Hay. It is 70 km north-east of Swan Hill and 373 km north of Melbourne. It is only 67 m above sea-level.

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Origin of Name

It is possible that Moulamein was named after the Burmese seaport of Moulmein in 1842 by a settler named Augustus Morris although there is a body of opinion that argues it is a corruption of a local Aboriginal word meaning 'the meeting of the waters'.

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Things to See and Do

Historic Buildings
There is a single A4 sheet of paper which lists the Moulamein Courthouse and wharf of historic significance and bemoans the demolition of many of the town's early buildings.

The Old Court House, which can be accessed via a footbridge which crosses Billabong Creek at the end of Old Court House Road, is a careful restoration of a building which stood and served as a court house from 1890 to 1968. It was reopened for inspection in 1988. It is worth visiting because the original court house, which was destroyed by fire in 1890 and rebuilt in that year, had been operating since at least 1848 and, as such, was the oldest court house in the Riverina. In fact prisoners were brought to Moulamein from as far away as Albury to be tried. It can be inspected and, on a poster near the front door, there are a list of people who can open the building.

At the end of Morago Street, beside the river, is a replica of the old wharf. There is a plaque beside the wharf with a photograph from 1920 of the wharf piled high with bales of wool and a paddle steamer waiting to collect the loads and ship them to Echuca on the Murray. The golden age of Moulamein was from the 1870s and by the 1880s Echuca was processing over £2.5 million worth of wool.

Moulamein Lake
For visitors one of the town's major attractions is the 12 ha Moulamein Lake which has extensive birdlife including black swans, views across to the grain silos, a good swimming pool and a boat-launching ramp. It is ideal for boating and other water activities.

The Old Bullock Drays
There are two old bullock drays, both dating from the late 19th century, in a rest area, Flottmann Park, on  Barham Road on the southern side of town. They are worth inspecting. Imagine how they were pulled by twelve bullocks and used to transport, in the case of the McKenzie dray, "material and equipment to make dams" and in the case of the Lachlan McBean dray, was driven from Moulamein to Sydney and back. A journey which must have taken months as the drays rarely achieved more than about 10-15km a day.

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History

* Europeans arrived in the Moulamein district as early as 1830 making it the oldest town in the Riverina. There was a time when this tiny town was more important than Albury. It boasted a police court (records go back to 1845) and the town's chief constable was paid £105 a year.

* By 1850 the town had an inn, the courthouse and a few houses. The official township was laid out in 1851. Records show that there was a post office by 1854.

* Moulamein's early importance was as a crossroad where wool from western NSW was brought to the local port where the paddle-steamers plying the Edward River could take the cargo downstream.

* the railway reached Echuca in 1864 which resulted in it becoming the most important port on the Murray River. This meant that Moulamein started to decline in importance as a port.

* The district was opened to free selection in the 1870s.

* Long periods of drought combined with a rabbit plague saw the town decline but the combination of the arrival of the railway in 1926 and the subdivision of the large holdings saw a brief revival before World War II. 1926 is seen as the symbolic end of the town's river transport.

* The town's grain storage sheds, originally built in 1969, are capable of storing 60,000 tonnes of grain.

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Visitor Information

There is no visitor information centre in Moulamein but Barham has a good centre. Check out the The Golden Rivers Country Visitor Information Centre at 15 Murray St, Barham tel: 1800 621 882.

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Useful Websites

Go to http://www.wakool.nsw.gov.au and search for Moulamein.

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Got something to add?

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

10 suggestions
  • Is old Marago Station accessible from Moulamien along the Edward River?

    The most accessible route to Old Marago Station is “About 15Km North of Deniliquin is the town of Pretty Pine. From here if you take the Moulamein-Dawhilly Road to the Old Morago Road then proceed to the Edward River you will find the Old Morago station. Hope that helps, Bruce Elder

    Barry
  • I have heard that there is an algae problem currently in the river. Can this be confirmed or denied please?

    Grant Livermore
  • I visited Moulamein in August 2016 and want to return in March 2017.
    I travel in a self-contained campervan and want to stay in the vicinity for a few days – but not in a caravan park; i.e., there’s no point paying for facilities I don’t need. I’d rather spend my money in the cafe, pub, etc. Is it okay to ‘free-camp’ in Moulamein for three or four nights in mid-March?

    Peter
  • Can you point me to where I might find some History of Old Marago Station?

    chris Barr
  • There are free camping facilities now, dump site included. It is in the approach from Barham /Swan Hill.

    Nettie
  • So,I’m hoping to come and stay with a friend in the next coming month or so. Could someone possibly tell me what’s up here? eg a supermarket? Bank? Could I have some more information? Thank you so very much.

    Chloe
    • Hello Chloe. Yes there is an IGA supermarket, pub, bowling club, Cafe, newsagent, post office, business centre (where you can do some banking etc) and petrol station. Pretty much everything you need. Enjoy your stay in this lovely little town.

      Julie Jenkins
  • My father was born and raised in Moulamein NSW and members of our family still reside there. Grandfather moved there about 1918 or 1919. The night my father was born in November 1921 the river was flooded and they couldn’t get Nana to Swan Hill Hospital so dad was born beside the Edwards River. My great-aunt was born at Leiwah Moulamein in approximately the mid-1850s. My paternal family are of the Muthi Muthi people who are located in the Northern Riverina and Far West regions of New South Wales. Their culture is acknowledged as being 70,000 old and and acknowledged as the world’s oldest living culture. So when you lot brag about how Europeans arrived in the Moulamein district as early as 1830 making it the oldest town in the Riverina., excuse me if I don’t go….wow. I’m sure you too understand the math between Aboriginal culture at 70,000 years old and Moulamein at 188 years old. So have you missed anything, I’d say so.

    Margaret Clarke