"Been There Before" Walgett Historical Tour
SELF DRIVE HISTORIC TOUR
The early history of Walgett is linked with the exploration of the Castlereagh and Macquarie River Areas. Records suggest the first white man into the Walgett area was Captain Charles Sturt on the 4th February 1829.
On October 1859 a notification was received by the government gazette stating that a site had been selected for a town to be called Walgett at the Junction of the Namoi and Barwon Rivers. It was a site already occupied by a squatter named Doyle. The Streets were named after Prime Ministers; Fox, Pitt and Peel. The Surveyor – Arthur, Dewhurst and Euroka, Wee Waa and Namoi streets were all named after the direction they were headed.
Key Landmarks on the Walk Include;
Walgett Visitor Information Centre
Wolseley House was built in 1976 and so named to commemorate, the inventor of the revolutionary mechanical shearing hand piece. Over the years the building has been dedicated to various government and private offices. In 2002 the Internet Centre was created and the building was refurbished into the Centre it is today.
The Library is in the southern wing of the building, with extensions carried out in 2013.
The Mural on the floor of the visitor centre was painted by local artist Johnny Dunn. The mural depicts the meeting of the Barwon and Namoi Rivers and features animals found in the local area. The floor mural was Johnny’s largest work taking nearly 100 hours and over three weeks to complete.
Walgett Shire Chambers
The new Walgett Shire Council Chambers was opened in March 1966. Councillors with much forsight decided to have the building constructed that would see the Walgett Shire Council well into the future, including air-conditioning and an elevator. The building was a bone of contention at the time but has been greatly appreciated by Council Employees.
Original Council Chambers
Walgett was declared a Shire in 1908. The very first Council Chamber building was built in 1913 and this was the official Chambers of the Walgett Shire. Plans of the building can be seen hanging in the foyer. The Chambers are currently used by the Walgett Historical Society, where there are wonderful displays of the floods, paddle steamers and most significantly Frederick York Wolseley’s mechanical sheep shearing machinery and a shearing shed set up with various items including wool presses, hand pieces and shearing stands.
Walgett Memorial Park
The project was undertaken by members of the RSL. It is a well kept area in remembrance of our service men and women. It contains a range of militaria including a field gun, and a stone obelisk. In 2015 a Walgett Indigenous Service plaque was added to commemorate the Aboriginal Servicemen and Women who have served in conflicts in which Australia has been involved.
War Memorial Monument
The Walgett Soldiers’ War Memorial was originally erected to commemorate the close of the World War One and record the names of those men who voluntarily left the district to take part in it, some of whom made the supreme sacrifice. The memorial now commemorates servicemen and women who have fought in all conflicts in which Australia has been involved. The marble soldier was imported from France and there is at least one other monument in Australia with the same soldier. In 2014 the Walgett RSL Sub Branch were successful in acquiring a grant to restore the monument and upgrade the lighting.
Best Employment Building
The Brass plate on the front of the building shows the height of the 1890 Flood – the highest recorded flood in Walgett peaking at 13.84 metres. Other flood heights can also been seen at the Visitor Information Centre.
Coolibah Tree (next to the Best Employment Building)
The first Church Service in Walgett was held under that Coolibah Tree in the Open in Fox St on the Old Post Office Corner. The tree remains today, old and slightly decayed. In June 1973 the Tree was saved from destruction thanks to the urgent protests of tree loving Councillor Charlie Mitchell. The late Harold Bull of ‘Ulumbie’ often told of a bewhiskered Jack Gray who could remember Walgett when only that Coolibah Tree stood out the front of the post office.
Walgett Post Office
The first Walgett Post Office was established on 1 July 1851, when “the part time Postmaster, Mr F Moran, received a yearly allowance of ten pounds. The new building was commenced in 1881 and was occupied by 1st May 1882. This building also housed the manual telephone exchange in latter years. The floor of the two public telephone boxes were “floating”, but when a caller went into the booth to make a phone call the floating floor was pressed down by the caller’s weight engaged the telephone service. The present Walgett Post Office was officially opened on 30 June 1969, by Mr RJ Hunt, Federal Member for Gwydir and this stands beside the previous post office now used as a commercial premises.
Walgett Police Station
The Police Station was completed in 1881, a brick building that stood beside the Court House.
The new Walgett Police Station was officially opened, marking the start of a new beginning for policing in Western NSW. The $16 million dollar facility was opened by the Governor of NSW, Excellency General the Honorable David Hurley, AC, DSC (Ret’d) NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Justice and Police Troy Grant and NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione.
The Old Gaol was built from convict bricks and was an impressive structure.
Walgett Two-mile Creek Underbridge
The Walgett Two-mile Creek Underbridge is a rare example of a timber through truss from the post-Whitton era, built by the PWD railway construction branch in the early 20th century between 1905-1907 before the first train in 1098. It is a highly visible and accessible example of early 20th century bridge technology used as an economical solution in the development of a Pioneer line.
The Two-mile Creek Underbridge is one of only three timber Howe through trusses extant in NSW.
The viaduct carried the trains across the 2mile Warrambool into the Walgett Railway Station. It has not been used since the 1970’s when the last passegner train ran.