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Warren, NSW

Quiet town on the Macquarie River which promotes itself as the 'Wool and Cotton Capital'.

Warren is a quiet rural town on the Macquarie River. It services an area dominated by sheep and cotton. Merino sheep and the Auscott Cotton Gin dominate the town's economy with wheat, oats, sorghum and maize also being grown. The main attractions in the local area are the excellent Tiger Bay Wetlands which are a magnet for birdwatchers; the remarkable Macquarie Marshes; and the ebb and flow of the area's huge cotton industry.

Location

Warren is located on the Oxley Highway 525 km north-west of Sydney via Mudgee. It is 197 metres above sea-level.

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Origin of Name

No one is sure how Warren got its name. There is a theory that it is a Ngiyambaa word meaning either "strong" or "substantial". An alternative theory is that it is an English word which meant "game park" and it was a description of the rich pastures and fauna the first settlers found in the area. Certainly it is known that the word Warren was first used when a station with that name was established by Thomas Readford and William Lawson in 1845. The Geographical Names Board of New South Wales notes: "Possibly derived from one of two Ngiyambaa terms: 'waran' for root or 'walan' for hard; also said to have been bestowed on a property from which name was taken with the British meaning ;enclosed place where animals are kept'. (Appleton; 1992)."

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Things to See and Do

Historic Buildings
There is something charmingly old world about the central area of Warren. While there are not a lot of genuinely old buildings (there was a major fire in 1899) the town has an interesting, early 20th century feel to it which is created by some of the buildings in Dubbo Street, Burton Street and Lawson Street. Prominent buildings include the Club House Hotel (1901) and Royal Hotel (1900) which stand opposite each other in Dubbo Street and the terrace houses from 37-41 Lawson Street. The town's Anglican, Presbyterian and Catholic Churches are also in Lawson Street.

Macquarie Park, Oxley Park, Victoria Park and Ebert Park
The town's parks, quiet and cool retreats with good picnic facilities, are located on the banks of the Macquarie River. Macquarie Park has an English-style formal garden and Oxley Park has a monument which honours both John Oxley and Charles Sturt. It reads: "A commemoration of John Oxley, George Evans and party. They camped in this vicinity on the night of 23rd June, 1818. On 27th June they discovered and named Mount Harris, of which this rock was part."
"Charles Sturt, Hamilton Hume and party passed about 1 mile to the north east on or about 18th December, 1828 in their attempt to solve the problem of the supposed inland sea."

Red River Gum Walk
The Red River Gum Walk starts just off Burton Street in Macquarie Park. It follows the riverbank around to a river red gum adjacent the Warren Hole which is reputedly nearly 1,000 years old. Further downstream is the site where stock and wagons crossed on a gravel bar when the water was low. It was used until the first bridge was built in 1875. A small hut, the first European building in the area, was built in 1845 where the Bowling Club now stands. A small police station was built nearby at the same time to protect the new settlers from Aborigines but, as there were no problems, the police moved further west.

Tiger Bay Wetlands
Tiger Bay Wetlands lie to the north of Warren on either side of the Oxley Highway and are a natural overflow of the Macquarie River system. The wetlands are a wonderland of birdlife. They are home to 227 bird species including pelicans and, in season, literally thousands of galahs.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Cotton in the Area
Auscott Cotton Farm and Cotton Gin is located 7 km south-west along the Oxley Highway. It is remarkable during cotton picking time as the paddocks have thousands of huge cotton bales lined up and road trains, laden with the new supersize bales, arrive every few minutes to deposit their loads. It is possible to take a tour of a cotton gin, tel: (02) 6847 4631. During picking time the gins are strictly out of bounds to the casual visitor.

The Macquarie Marshes
The Macquarie Marshes sit between Nyngan, Coonamble, Walgett and Warren. The National Parks and Wildlife website explains their importance as "one of the largest remaining inland semi-permanent wetlands in south-eastern Australia and are of international importance. The nature reserve samples all the habitat types present in the Marshes and is a major waterbird breeding area, an important refuge for a large number of other wildlife species and has significant cultural values." while pointing out that "this nature reserve does not cater for day-visitors, or campers. Access is restricted to management and research personnel. However, when conditions are suitable, the NPWS runs guided activities around the reserve." It is advisable to check the National Parks website - http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/NationalParks/parkHome.aspx?id=N0449 - for more details or contact the Park Office on tel: (02) 6825 4364.

The marshes were first sighted by Europeans when, following the course of the Macquarie River in 1818, John Oxley and his party found that the river disappeared into an 'ocean of reeds'. It was speculated that this was the edge of the legendary inland sea of Australia, but when Charles Sturt arrived in 1828 and explored the river he found the marshes nearly dry.

The Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve was created in 1971 and currently covers 19,824 hectares.

The NSW Government explains the value of the wetlands in terms of "The Macquarie Marshes are a relatively little altered part of a major land system within NSW; the Northern Alluvial Fans. The nature reserve is one of only two moderately sized conservation areas in NSW protecting a sample of this land system.

"The Marshes are geomorphologically and geologically unusual as an active network of inland braided streams and deranged drainage patterns. The Marshes are one of the largest remaining single inland semi-permanent wetlands in south-eastern Australia, and are still in a semi-natural state.

"The Australian Heritage Commission has listed the Macquarie Marshes on the National Heritage Register and the National Trust has classified the Marshes as a Landscape Conservation Area in the National Trust Register. The Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve has been included on the List of Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar Convention).

By any definition the Macquarie Marshes are one this continent’s magical, but rarely explored, wildlife wonderlands. The waters, when they are flooding out across the plains, create a 200,000 hectare wetland which is known to be home to mobs of kangaroos and emus and an estimated 80,000 breeding pairs of colonial waterbirds. Birds seen on the marshes include brolgas, Australian white ibis, straw-necked ibis, glossy ibis, intermediate egrets and the endangered Australasian bittern, blue-billed duck, magpie goose, freckled duck and painted snipe.

To see the emus and kangaroos hopping and running through the marshes and reed beds is to feel as though you are participating in a David Attenborough-voiced wildlife documentary. With the sun sparkling off the shallow waters; the reeds and water couch dark green against the surrounding dry plains; and the red river gums edging the deeper streams this is a uniquely Australian wildlife experience.

In the next few years the wetlands are likely to become even more spectacular. The water legally set aside has been increased from 50,000 million litres to 160,000 million litres and it is expected that this will “improve the ecological health of the many thousands of native species, frogs, turtles, snakes, waterbirds, fish species, red gums, reed beds, and invertebrates that underpin the food web.”

Glimpses of the marshes can be obtained from Gibson's Way which links Quambone (54 km west) to the Macquarie Valley Way. Stop at Quambone for further directions and information.

If you want to fly over the marshes helicopter flights are available from Nyngan. Jack Carter’s Helicopter rides are organised on a private basis, take around an hour and fly over the southern end of the Macquarie Marshes. The rate $650 per hour with the helicopter capable of holding up to four people (that's $162.50 per person if there are four of you). Contact Nyngan Riverside Caravan Park, tel: 0428 322 037.

Fishing and Canoeing
The area is a popular fishing haunt with good locations along the Macquarie River at Oxley Park Wharf, at the Bob Christensen Reserve, the Warren Weir and Brian Egan Weir, and at Quinines Reserve. All these locations are within 5 km of the town. Anglers can expect to catch yellowbelly, carp, cod, black bream and catfish.

Cobb & Co Heritage Trail
The historic inland coaching company, Cobb & Co, celebrated the 150th anniversary of its first journey in 2004. The Heritage Trail now runs between Bathurst and Bourke and, if you are travelling north, you can get an excellent brochure at the Bathurst Visitor Centre and inspect a pristine Cobb & Co coach in the Visitor Centre.

Cobb & Co's origins lay in the need to transport people during goldrushes of the early 1850s. As the Heritage Trail website explains: "The company was enormously successful and had branches or franchises throughout much of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Japan. At its peak, Cobb & Co operated along a network of tracks that extended further than those of any other coach system in the world – its coaches travelled 28,000 miles (44,800 km) per week and 6,000 (out of their 30,000) horses were harnessed every day. Cobb & Co created a web of tracks from Normanton on the Gulf of Carpentaria and Port Douglas on the Coral Sea down to the furthest reaches of Victoria and South Australia – in all, a continuous line of 2,000 miles (3,200km) of track over eastern Australia from south to north, with a total of 7000 miles (11,200km) of regular routes." (see www.cobbandco.net.au). Cobb & Co sites around Warren include the Post Office and Willie's Retreat, which features old stables, buildings and the remains of a Cobb & Co Inn.

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History

* Before European settlement the area is said to have been occupied by the Ngiyambaa Aborigines and was adjacent to lands occupied by the Ngemba, Wongaibon, Wailwan and Waiabara people.

* Explorer John Oxley camped near the present townsite on 23 June, 1818 during his exploration of the Macquarie River. He noted large numbers of kangaroos and emus in the area.

* Charles Sturt, Hamilton Hume and party passed about 1 mile to the north east of the town on or about 18 December, 1828 in their attempt to solve the problem of the inland sea.

* Settlers were grazing cattle on the plains by the late 1830s.

* The first property in the area was Warren Station which was established in 1845 by Thomas Readford and William Lawson.

* In 1845 a small police station and a hut were built near the river-crossing on the main route from Dubbo. Stockmen camped here before crossing over on the gravel bar when the water was low.

* A site for a township was surveyed in 1860 and land was sold in 1861. Warren was proclaimed a town in 1861. A post office was opened that year.

* A bootmaker's shop, made of bark, was opened in 1863.

* The town's first store opened in 1866 and a school was established the following year.

* The town's Anglican Church was consecrated in 1873.

* The town's first courthouse was built in 1874.

* The first bridge across the Macquarie River was opened in 1875.

* Warren was incorporated as a municipality in 1895.

* The Warren Weir was built in 1896.

* The railway from Nevertire reached Warren in 1898.

* The great fire of 1899 destroyed two-thirds of Warren.

* By 1901 the population of the town was 1,006 of which over 130 were Chinese.

* Between 1914-1918 one third of the town's population went to fight in the Great War.

* In 1955 the town experienced its worst flood during European settlement.

* The district's water shortage was greatly eased when Burrendong Dam was opened in 1967, allowing the development of cotton growing.

* The Tiger Bay Wetlands were officially opened in 1988.

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Visitor Information

Warren Visitor Information Centre, 6 Burton Street, tel: (02) 6847 6665. Open weekdays from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm and Saturdays from 9.00 am to noon.

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Useful Websites

There is a useful local website - http://www.warren.nsw.gov.au/ - which has useful information about the natural attractions around 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.

7 suggestions
  • Where is Eumanglah? My great grandfather’s marriage certificate in 1873, says he and his bride to be, lived and were married in Eumanglah, Warren. Presume it is, or was a property, but I can find no trace. Any help much appreciated.

    My next door neighbour spent all his life in Warren. I will ask him. He’s in hospital at the moment … but will be back.

    Bob Read
  • Shame there isn’t any mention of the indigenous community at the Beemunnel or their history of the area.

    Certainly not intentional, Moira. I will attempt to correct this serious error. Bruce

    Moira
  • What about the structure of the town being divided by the river. When the Beemunnel gets added Ravenswood could also be mentioned

    David
  • I was taught at school that Warren had derived from an Aboriginal word “Warrien” meaning waterhole in reference to The Warren Hole opposite Uncle Clarrie’s service station noted for its depth and never drying up even in the worst of droughts. Making this believable is the spelling of Gunningbah which has possibly been misspelt by mapping staff on the council maybe because not being local they have spelt it as it sounded. I may be wrong and as I said it was how I was taught at school.

    Alan Cleaver
    • Hi Alan,
      Where possible we use the official place name guides for specific states. In the case of New South Wales it is called the Geographical Names Board of NSW. It says of Warren: “Possibly derived from one of two Ngiyambaa terms: ‘waran’ for root or ‘walan’ for hard; also said to have been bestowed on a property from which name was taken with the British meaning ‘enclosed place where animals are kept’. (Appleton; 1992).

      Bruce Elder
  • The Eumanglah Hole is about three kms downstream of Warren you can get to it by following Eudora Road out past the hospital and when you come to the end of Eudora Road the Eumanglah Hole is right there. Ashley Marks owns the property on the western side of Carinda Road and I think that it could be called Eumanglah. You could contact Ashley or his sons and they may be helpful to you.

    Alan Cleaver
  • My great great grandfather was born at Beerwarrina Creek at Warren as in his birth certificate & my great grandfather was born at Martha Guy Creek Warren. Can you tell me please are these an actual town area or an actual creek area? I have been to Warren & hope to return to continue with my ancestry journey.
    Thanks
    Trisha

    Hi Trish. I will check with my neighbour who grew up in Warren.

    Trisha