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Nundle, NSW

Quiet historic gold mining town now a popular "tree change" destination.

Nundle is one of those well-kept secrets. Starting life as a gold mining town surrounded by some particularly beautiful scenery and positioned between the Peel River and the slopes of the Great Dividing Range, it lies in the heart of rich sheep, cattle and wheat farmlands. In many ways it is the quintessential "tree change" town with classy restaurants, good accommodation and a rich diversity of craftspeople.

Location

Nundle is located 392 km north of Sydney via the New England Highway. It is located 35 km east of the highway and 59 km south-east of Tamworth.

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Origin of Name

Nundle is probably a corruption of a Kamilaroi Aboriginal word meaning "mouth". It was probably referring to the mouth of Nundle River as it flows into the Peel.

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Things to See and Do

Nundle Tourist Walk
There is a downloadable brochure - Nundle - Why Rush It? which lists a total of 30 places of interest on a "Tourist Walk" of the town. It is only 2 km long. It can be accessed at the Visitor Information or at http://www.nundle.com.au/assets/Downloads/Nundle-map-for-web.pdf. Of particular interest are:

1. The Gil Bennett Gem & Mineral Collection
The Gil Bennett Gem & Mineral Collection is located in the Visitor Information Centre at 103 Jenkins Street. Gilmore Bennett was an enthusiastic collector and the collection is a result of discriminating acquisition over a twenty year period. The Collection is open for inspection from 9.00 am - 4.00 pm.

8. The Peel Inn
The Peel Inn dates from the 1860s. It was built during the goldrush and is the last of the 16 pubs that once existed in the town. It was built by William McIlveen. In the late 1870s John Schofield won it, so the story goes, in a card game. Schofield's descendants are still the owners.

10. Old Bank Building
It is probably fair to say that modern, fashionable Nundle starts with this building, constructed in 1938 as a Bank of New South Wales, later becoming a National Bank and then, in 1996, becoming the very chic Jenkins Street Guest House. It was restored by Sydney developers, Peter and Judy Howarth, who established excellent accommodation and impressive cooking - out of the old bank vault which was turned into the kitchen. At the time it served such delicacies as cucumber-dressed Hanging Rock smoked trout, scored 15/20 and won a Chef's Hat from the Good Food Guide. Since the Howarths departed it has changed hands, and functions, a number of times.

14. All Saints Anglican Church
The first Church of England service held in the area was conducted from the veranda of John Gibbon's Golden Nugget Hotel at Hanging Rock by the Bishop of Newcastle. This building was constructed in 1907.

15. Courthouse Museum
The local Court House, now a museum, is a two-storey red-brick building with rendered round-headed window arches, a hipped roof and shady veranda. It was built in 1880 by local builder, George Davidson. It contains mining implements from the goldrush days, local memorabilia and a history of the plane crash of The Lutana. The museum is open Saturdays from 10.00 am - 11.30 am and Sundays 12.30 pm - 4.30 pm. There is a small charge.

16. Chinese Memorial Plaque
The excellent Chinese Memorial Garden is described on the Monument Australia website (http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/landscape/settlement/display/94034-chinese-memorial-garden) as "The small Chinese Garden with a memorial plaque acknowledges the many Chinese who died on the goldfields during the 1800’s and who were buried in unmarked graves. From the 1850’s to the 1880’s thousands of people came to what was then called the Peel River Diggings which incorporated Nundle, Happy Valley, Hanging Rock, and Bowling Alley Point. Among the rush of people were numerous Chinese; most looking for gold, plus a few came to set up stores and gardens to supply the diggers. Illness or accidents took the lives of many searching the hills, and the Bowling Alley Point and Nundle Cemeteries became their final resting-places while the majority left when gold petered out or new fields beckoned. Some stayed on and became a permanent part of Nundle and district history."

17. Views of Hanging Rock
Just up Durbin Street there are views of the Hills of Gold. When gold was first discovered at Hanging Rock in 1851 the area was known as the Hanging Rock Diggings. As gold was found in Oakenville Creek and the Peel River, the area became known as the Peel River Diggings.

22. Mount Misery Gold Mine Cafe
The local builder, George Davidson, constructed the stone portion of the Mount Misery mine buildings in the 1860s. Currently the Mount Misery Mine is a replica of an 1850s gold mine which is accessible to visitors. It sells Nundle gold, souvenirs and operates a café. It is located at 80 Gill Street and is open Wednesday-Monday from 10.00 am - 3.00 pm. The TV program, Getaway, reported on the mine: "It's dug into a hill behind the old coffin-making shop which is now a café and museum displaying artefacts and pictures from the rush days. Everything there such as equipment, old shaft and tools, have come from original goldmines now too dangerous to explore. They have been placed in the 120 m tunnel and it looks scarily real. Be on the lookout for the ghost of Yankee Jack — it's said he struck it rich but was killed in the mine before he could enjoy his wealth. Historian and gold guru Geoff Cummins told Natalie around eight tonnes of gold were taken from the real mine and he thinks there could still be plenty around." Check out http://getaway.ninemsn.com.au/fsaustraliansw/country/878829/nundle.

25. Nundle Woollen Mill
Located at 1 Oakenden Street, this is a rarity: a woollen mill which uses machinery that is more than 100 years old to make wool in a traditional way. It is possible to watch as a bale of wool is turned into yarn. The mill attracts over 30,000 visitors a year. The story of the mill is a reminder of hard work and tenacity. As the Nundle Woollen Mill website explains: “Nundle Woollen Mill was borne out of former residents’ Peter and Judy Howarth’s vision to establish a major tourist attraction and help build the visitor economy and sustainability of Nundle. They purchased 14 truckloads of spinning and weaving machinery, some built in England and Germany as early as 1914, from Carol Olde’s boutique mill Fibres and Beyond at Tamworth. Carol had purchased the machinery from JL McGregor Pty Ltd at Geelong.”
Today it is no longer owned by the Howarths but it is a genuine tourist attraction.
The website goes on to point out “Nundle Woollen Mill is a must-see destination for lovers of knitting, crochet, felting, textiles, spinning and weaving, handmade crafts, machinery and history.
“Despite its vintage appearance, the purpose-built iron, timber and rendered brick building opened its doors on Australia Day, 2001. It is hard to imagine that as recently as 2000 there was a horse paddock where the mill now stands.
“Nick and Kylie Bradford have owned Nundle Woollen Mill since 2007. Up until then the woollen mill was one of the largest customers for their wool fashion labels Sheer Bliss and Infinite Wool.
"In November 2013, Nick and Kylie moved their Sydney-based wool fashion business to Nundle Woollen Mill, and bought three-hectares with plans to build a new house. … It is one of Australia’s last working woollen mills. Even 50 years ago there were some 200 woollen mills in Australian cities and country towns. Many Nundle Woollen Mill customers have memories of growing up near a working woollen mill, or were employees of woollen mills … Nundle Woollen Mill was an early pioneer of online shopping and contributed to the resurgence in popularity of traditional wool crafts of knitting, crochet, and felting in the past decade.
“Nick and Kylie continue to build on the Howarth’s original foresight and bring their own expertise in wool manufacturing and wool fashion to the future direction of Nundle Woollen Mill.” Check out http://nundle.com/content/10-history for detailed information. The mill is open from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm seven days a week.

Nundle Riverside Walkway
For those wanting to relax and enjoy a stroll there is a pleasant sealed one kilometre walkway beside the Peel River which starts at Inness Street and continues along the river where bird watching and picnics are possible.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Fossicking
The ruins of old mine workings and equipment are scattered across the valley floor and up the mountainsides. Traces of gold, along with a variety of gemstones, can still be found and people continue to pan on the Peel River or fossick in the Hanging Rock area. The most popular place for zircons and sapphires is located 7 km out of town along the Forest Way. It is just past the Duncan's Creek turnoff.

Chaffey Dam
Located 18 km north of Nundle on the Tamworth-Nundle Road is the Chaffey Dam which holds 60 million litres of water and covers 542 ha. The embankment is 54 m high and 430 m long.  There are picnic-barbecue facilities and opportunities for camping, walking, boating, sailing, swimming and windsurfing. As well the area is rich in waterbirds including pelicans, plovers, cormorants, ibis and wild duck and anglers will find catfish, yellowbelly and trout in the dam's water. It is a popular local recreation area.

Dead Horse Mine
Located on Happy Valley Road which runs off Oakenville Road, 5 km east of Nundle, is the Two-Mile Walk where the visitor can see remnants of the goldrush era with old shafts, diggings, mullock heaps and equipment and other remnants of a goldmining settlement. This road is only accessible to walkers and 4WD vehicles. 

Hanging Rock
Leave Nundle via Oakenville Road and Forrest Way, Hanging Rock is located 8 km from town. The road winds its way steeply, past old mullock heaps, to the top of the mountain range (1100 m above sea-level) where the massive treeless rock face of Hanging Rock looms overhead. Once you have ascended the plateau there are two branch roads almost directly opposite each other. Lookout Road on the right leads to the rock itself where there is a scenic vantage point with excellent views of the chasm and the valley below. The road on the left is sign posted to Ponderosa Forest Park where there are walking trails, camping and the Zircon Gully Fossicking Area. The main road passes through the village of Hanging Rock .

Sheba Dams Reserve
Beyond Hanging Rock village, and clearly signposted along Barry Road, are the two dams (with a surface area of 3.6 ha) which were erected by hand over a three-week period in 1888 to serve the sluicing needs of the miners. The operation was carried out by the Mount Sheba Company which leased the water rights for the area the previous year. Today it is a recreation destination with picnic and barbecue facilities in a bush setting abundant with trees, birds, lizards, wallabies and pademelons. There is also a 1.2 km bush walk around the dam and the waters are stocked with rainbow trout. This is regarded as good fossicking country where zircons, sapphires and other semi-precious stones can be found.

Arc-En-Ciel Trout Farm and Cafe
Located beyond Sheba Dams along the top of the mountain range on Morrison's Gap Road, and overlooking the Barnard and Peel Valleys, is the Arc-en-Ciel (it means "rainbow" in French) Trout Farm and Cafe where light meals, tea and coffee are served and there are conducted tours of the ponds and hatchery at 11.00 am and 2.00 pm daily - but you should ring to ensure that the tours are running. Trout fishing equipment is available for hire with all catches cleaned and packed for you. You can also purchase fresh and smoked trout, and smoked trout pate. The farm is closed on Tuesdays and Saturdays and open all other days from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm. It now supplies an estimated 10% of all trout in New South Wales.  It is essential to book, tel: (02) 6769 3665 or check out http://www.rainbowtrout.com.au.

Go For Gold Chinese Easter Festival
Annually Nundle celebrates the Chinese contribution to its goldmining history with the Nundle Go For Gold Chinese Festival where, for two days, there is traditional dance, music and food, with bands performing, market stalls selling mostly Chinese food and gold panning demonstrations. The festival has attracted up to 12,000 visitors. The festival has a useful Facebook page. Check out https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nundle-Go-for-Gold-Chinese-Easter-Festival/171409402905492.

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History

* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the area around Nundle was occupied by the Kamilario Aboriginal people.

* In 1818 the explorer Surveyor John Oxley travelled through the area and named the Peel River.

* In 1832 the Australian Agricultural Company was granted 600,000 acres in the area. Nundle is located on what was the eastern boundary of the Goonoo Goonoo station.

* By 1842 the name Nundul was appearing on maps of the area.

* In 1847 the AAC was issued the deeds for the land and, at the time, it considered selling it.

* Gold was discovered at Swamp Creek and Hanging Rock in 1851. The AAC capitalised on this by forming the Peel River Land and Mineral Company.

* In 1852 the Church of England held services for miners from the veranda of the Golden Nugget Hotel at Hanging Rock.

* The Peel Inn was opened in 1861. It was to become one of 16 pubs in the district.

* By 1865 the population in the district was around 500 with some 50 businesses in operation in Nundle.

* A one room public school opened in the town in 1872.

* In 1880 a new Court House was built by local builder, George Davidson.

* Nundle was officially declared a town in 1885. That same year the local Roman Catholic Church was consecrated.

* In 1892 the local School of Arts opened.

* The present post office was opened in 1903.

* In 1907 All Saints Anglican Church was consecrated.

* The Council Offices were built and opened in 1913.

* In 1930 the Nundle Memorial Hall was opened. It honoured locals who had fought in World War I.

* On 2 September, 1948 a Lutana aircraft crashed into Square Peak killing all 13 crew and passengers.

* The Nundle Visitor Information Centre was opened in 2008.

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Visitor Information

The Nundle Visitor Information Centre, 103 Jenkins Street, tel: (02) 6769 3026.

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Useful Websites

There is an excellent local website - http://www.nundle.com.au/ - with information about eating and accommodation in the town.

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Got something to add?

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

6 suggestions
  • I am trying to research a family from Hanging Rock in the late 1800’s, I think. Some of the family moved to Scone. The family name is Ludington. Would you be kind enough to let me know how I would go about this.
    Regards Helen Cox

    Helen cox
    • Hi Helen, I would be inclined to speak directly to the people at The Gil Bennett Gem & Mineral Collection which is located in the Visitor Information Centre at 103 Jenkins Street. They are very helpful and enthusiastic. They can be contacted on (02) 6769 3026.

      Bruce Elder
  • 90 wind turbines with 200 metre blades are proposed. This windfarm is causing concern amongst the local population. It will be highly visible ..

    Cannot disclose@hotmail.com
  • Stop the wind turbines please..

    Cannot disclose@hotmail.com
  • Why would anyone wish to destroy the amenity of this great town by creating a windfarm of 200m high wind turbines at Hanging Rock?

    Kerry FItts
  • A memorial has been placed in the Museum grounds( in 2018) to the Aboriginal people-Anaiwan tribe- who have been associated with the Nundle and Hanging Rock district for eons.;people who are part of the larger New England tribe-the Anaiwan or NGANAWANA people.
    One family moved to the Hanging Rock diggings in 1870 (from Ingleba/Walcha)-nine families have been in and around Nundle ever since.
    The acknowledging of these people ,and Nundle, is even more significant since a stone tool from 3000BC was found above the Barnard River has been and identified as being from the area and made by Anaiwan people.

    Sue Pickrell- Nundle -