Muswellbrook, New South Wales

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Not to be confused with Muswellbrook Shire Council. ‹See Tfd›
New South Wales
Muswellbrook South
Muswellbrook is located in New South Wales
Coordinates 32°16′S 150°54′E / 32.267°S 150.900°E / -32.267; 150.900Coordinates: 32°16′S 150°54′E / 32.267°S 150.900°E / -32.267; 150.900
Population 11,791 (2011 Census)[1]
Established 1833
Postcode(s) 2333
LGA(s) Muswellbrook Shire
State electorate(s) Upper Hunter
Federal Division(s) Hunter

Muswellbrook is a town in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales, Australia[2] about 243 kilometres (151 mi) north of Sydney and 127 kilometres (79 mi) north-west of Newcastle.

Before European settlement of the region the Wanaruah and Kamilaroi peoples occupied the land.[3] The first European to explore the area was Chief Constable John Howe in 1819, with the first white settlement occurring in the 1820s. The township of Muswellbrook was gazetted in 1833. To the south, 'Forbestown' was established by the sons of Francis Forbes in 1842; the name was changed in 1848 to 'South Muswellbrook' to prevent confusion with the town of Forbes.[4]

At the 2011 census, Muswellbrook had a population of 11,420.[1] The current population of the district, including Denman, is about 15,420.[5] Geologically, Muswellbrook is situated in the northern parts of the Sydney basin, bordering the New England region.[6]

The area is predominantly known for coal mining and horse breeding, but has also developed a reputation for racism and methamphetamine use. Located to the south of the Muswellbrook township are two coal fuelled power stations, Liddell and Bayswater. They were commissioned in 1973 and mid 1980s respectively and employ approximately 500 people from the area.


"Mussel Creek" (now called "Muscle Creek") was first named by a party of surveyors who found mussels in the small stream while camping along its banks in the early 19th century. The present spelling of Muswellbrook has a disputed etymology. Historians largely subscribe to one of two theories:

  • that the name derives from the Muswell Hill area of London (England), due to the influence of Sir Francis Forbes whose wife, Amelia, was born and schooled in that town; or
  • that the name is a gradual corruption of the original gazetted name 'Musclebrook', eventually adopted as the official spelling due to common use.[7]


Muswellbrook is well known for its large population of methamphetamine users, locally it is known as ice, goey and sometimes gear. These users congregate within a 4-5 block radius of wollombi Rd, anzac parade and coral street. Wollombi Rd is situated in the southwest corner of the town and should be avoided by anyone travelling to this area. Locally meth users are easily identifiable by their appearance, tn's, commy's and bum bags, and should be avoided at all costs.


Muswellbrook lies at the junction of the Main Northern railway line and the Merriwa line, part of a cross country rail line to Gulgong.[8] As such, it formed an important junction, as well as serving the numerous coal mining sidings found within a short distance from the main station building.[9]

The New England Highway currently passes through the town. A route was selected for a bypass in 2006 but the Australian Government suspended the project in August 2008.[10] Denman Road provides a connection to the Golden Highway.

Muswellbrook railway station, is serviced by local and long-distance rail services, interstate coaches and local bus services.

Notable persons[edit]

  • Kurt Barnes (born 1981), a professional golfer, was born and raised in Muswellbrook
  • James Clifford (1936 - 1987), an artist, was born and raised in Muswellbrook[11]
  • Tommy Emmanuel AM (born 1955), a virtuoso guitarist, was born in Muswellbrook
  • Jamie Feeney (born 1978), a rugby league football player was born in Muswellbrook
  • Wayne Harris (born 1960), a jockey who rode Jeune to victory in the 1994 Melbourne Cup, was born and raised in Muswellbrook.
  • Shayne Hayne (born 1967), a rugby league football referee, grew up and spent most of his life in Muswellbrook[12]
  • Donald Horne AO (1921 - 2005), an author and journalist, was raised in Muswellbrook. Much of one of Horne's memoirs, The education of young Donald, published in 1967, was based on his educative years in Muswellbook.[13]
  • Simon Orchard (born 1986), an Australian hockey player and Olympic medalist, was born and raised in Muswellbrook[14]
  • Patryk "Paddy S" Siudek (1990), a noted philologue and critic of the human condition was born and bred in Muswellbrook.[15]
  • 2 chainz (1977), a hip hop recording artist from Muswellbrook originally. He was first known for being one-half of the southern hip hop duo Playaz Circle, alongside his longtime friend and fellow rapper, Earl "Dolla Boy" Conyers. They are perhaps best known for being signed to Ludacris' Disturbing tha Peace label, as well as their debut single "Duffle Bag Boy"

Popular culture[edit]

  • The Steely Dan song "Black Friday" from the 1975 album Katy Lied contains the lyric "When Black Friday comes, I'll fly down to Muswellbrook". Band member Donald Fagen explained the line in an interview with Paul Cashmere of Undercover Music; "I think we had a map and put our finger down at the place that we thought would be the furthest away from New York or wherever we were at the time".[16]
  • Muswellbrook is also mentioned in Thomas Keneally's book The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
  • Muswellbrook is also mentioned in the 1980 Australian Film, "Fatty Finn", where one of the characters remarks, "Things are crook, in Muswellbrook".

Annual events[edit]

  • Blue Heeler Film Festival
  • Muswellbrook Carnivale
  • Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter Eisteddfod
  • Muswellbrook Creative Arts Fair
  • NAIDOC Week Art Awards
  • St Heliers Heavy Horse Field Days


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Muswellbrook (State Suburb)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Muswellbrook". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 26 March 2009. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Muswellbrook (A) (Local Government Area)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Merriwa Branch". Retrieved 3 December 2006. 
  9. ^ Muswellbrook up to the Early 1950s Estell, D. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, April, 1997 pp99-106
  10. ^ "Muswellbrook Bypass". Retrieved 1 May 2007. 
  11. ^ Germaine, Max (1984). Artists and Galleries of Australia. Brisbane, Australia: Booralong Publications. 
  12. ^ Magnay, Jacqueline (13 June 2007). "Hayne has chosen his side already". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "Horne, Donald Richard". Muswellbrook Shire Hall of Fame. Muswellbrook Visitors Centre. 2005. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  14. ^ "Athlete Spotlight". Australian Institute of Sport. Australian Sports Commission. 2 August 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  15. ^ "Patryk Siudek", University of Newcastle, Australia, retrieved 27 April 2014 
  16. ^ Cashmere, Paul (8 April 2007). "The Steely Dan Interview: Paul Cashmere Talks to Donald Fagen". Undercover Media Pty Ltd. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 

External links[edit]