Gilgandra, New South Wales

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New South Wales
The main street of Gilgandra
Gilgandra is located in New South Wales
Coordinates 31°42′0″S 148°40′0″E / 31.70000°S 148.66667°E / -31.70000; 148.66667Coordinates: 31°42′0″S 148°40′0″E / 31.70000°S 148.66667°E / -31.70000; 148.66667
Population 4,368 (2011 census)[1]
Established 1888
Postcode(s) 2827
Elevation 282 m (925 ft)
  • 460 km (286 mi) from Sydney
  • 66 km (41 mi) from Dubbo
LGA(s) Gilgandra Shire
State electorate(s) Barwon
Federal Division(s) Parkes
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
24.7 °C
76 °F
9.9 °C
50 °F
557.2 mm
21.9 in

Gilgandra is a country town located in the central west region of New South Wales, Australia, and services the surrounding agricultural area where wheat is grown extensively, together with other cereal crops, and sheep and beef cattle are raised.[2] Sitting at the junction of the Newell, Oxley and Castlereagh highways, the town is located in a wide bend of the Castlereagh River downstream from Mendooran and the river's source near Coonabarabran, and upstream of Gulargambone and Coonamble.[3] It is known as the town of windmills and the home of the 'Coo-ees', and is a gateway to the Warrumbungles National Park. It is 432 km north-west of Sydney (about six hours' driving time), and is located approximately halfway on the inland route from Melbourne to Brisbane. The town is the administrative seat for the Gilgandra Shire.[4]

The name Gilgandra is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning "long waterhole".[5] The Castlereagh River is frequently dry or with only a small stream in the wide riverbed, but a large permanent waterhole 100 yards long and 12 feet deep existed along the river near where the township developed, and for many years subsequently. This waterhole was the source of the town's name.[6]

At the 2016 census the population of Gilgandra township was 2,600. In the wider Gilgandra area the population was 4,300 people with 96.4% Australian-born, 13.8% identifying as Aboriginal, and 'Agriculture and Forestry' occupying 28.6% of the area's employed population, the largest single category of employment.[7]


Gilgandra was proclaimed as a town in 1888, and the first town blocks were sold in 1889. While this was an impetus to growth, the area had been settled by a European population for many years before that. Gilgandra’s Post Office had been formally established in 1867, in 1881 a local school had opened, and the first court hearing was held in the Gilgandra court house in 1884. The shire was constituted in 1906.[8]

During World War I, a recruitment march to Sydney began in Gilgandra. The march was known as the Coo-ee March, after the distinct call of "cooee" they shouted at each town along their journey to attract recruits. Twenty-six men left Gilgandra on 10 October 1915. They were feted at each town on the route and recruitment meetings were held. By the time they reached Sydney just over one month later on 12 November, the numbers had swelled to 263 recruits.[9][10]


In the hotter months, the swimming pool is open. There is a youth club, which has squash courts, basketball courts, a gym, and an indoor area.

The tourist information centre is on the south side of town, on the Newell Highway, as entering from Dubbo, on the right hand side after the silos.

Gilgandra has a privately owned observatory open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday.

There is a community radio station WARFM, which is on 98.9FM, broadcasting a wide range of programs.

Gilgandra has a technical college. There are courses such as business administration, digital photography, and others at times.

Shops and Services[edit]


Miller Street is the main street with a full offering of retail stores. The Central Stores offer a range of merchandise from fashion to homewares to books. A clothing store offers discounted fashion brands, there is a Target Country and a jewellery store. Interest is added with an antiques/bric-a-brac store, two beauty and cosmetic retailers and two hairdressers, a well-stocked pharmacy, newsagent and electrical retailer.[11]

There is a range of grocery providers with 5 Star Supermarket, a bakery and butcher in the main street, a Supa IGA grocery and liquor store in Warren Road, and a Coles Express convenience store with a petrol retailer. Farmers, and the community’s hardware needs, are met by timber retailers, farm suppliers and farm machinery suppliers, and grain and timber stores as well as a Mitre 10 hardware store in Miller St.[11] .

Professional Services[edit]

Several different financial/legal professional services firms operate in the town, from two private legal firms, to an insurance broker, three accountants and business services firms.[12] There is a combined real estate/stock & station agency.

Two medical practices serve health needs, supported by an independent pharmacist, while Gilgandra Veterinary Clinic serves the needs of farm animal production and large animals, right through to domestic pets.[citation needed]

Community & Health Services[edit]

  • Medical – There are three separate medical practices, and visiting dentist and optometrist, as well as a modern pharmacy/chemist shop in the main street.
  • Hospital – Gilgandra’s hospital is a modern, purpose-built 'Multi Purpose Health Service' with 31 beds situated in Chelmsford Avenue. It provides acute and sub-acute, emergency, and residential aged care. It also provides visiting practitioners and clinicians for allied health services. The nearest major referral hospital is only 40 minutes’ drive away at Dubbo.[13]
  • Aged Care – Retirement village and hostels. The Cooee Lodge Retirement Village situated next to the town’s hospital facility offers detached retirement units for independent living, and a 40 bed hostel with an additional 10 bed special care wing. The Jack Towney Hostel is a separate 13-place Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aged Care facility with 24 hour support staff.[14]
  • Community / Disability services – A Community Care Centre is located in the main street, run by NSW’s Home and Community Care Program. It has an Aged Care Assessment Team, and clients are the frail, frail aged, and people with a disability.[15]
  • Orana Lifestyle Directions provides support services for people with intellectual disability who live in group homes within Gilgandra, while Carlginda Enterprises provides employment for people with disability and offers training for employment.[16]


Gilgandra has many churches especially for a small town. There are Catholic, Anglican, United Churches, Lutheran, Jehovah's Witness, Church of Christ, Presbyterian, and a local Indigenous church.


There are two primary schools and a public high school, all co-educational:

  • Gilgandra Public School educates children from Kindergarten to Year 6 with around 190 pupils. It opened in October 1881, with centenary celebrations in 1981. [17]
  • St Joseph’s Primary School is a Catholic systemic school from years K-6 with approximately 200 pupils. Founded in 1909 by the Sisters of St Joseph from the Bathurst Diocese, it is now run by lay teachers. [18]
  • Gilgandra High School educates approximately 230 local teenagers from Year 7 -12. [19]

A Technical College (TAFE) campus offers vocational training in a range of trade and industry specific areas. [20] For the Under-5's, there is a professionally-run community pre-school, and a private early childcare business also offers a pre-school program in addition to long day care.

Notable people[edit]

  • Jim Curran (1927–2005), Gilgandra-born and raised local member 1980-1981 for Castlereagh electorate in NSW State parliament.[21]
  • John FARRAGHER, OAM, (B.1957), Gilgandra-born and raised rugby league player, attended Gilgandra High School and played rugby league for Gilgandra. Selected for Western Districts team 1977. Commenced playing First Grade with Penrith Panthers 1978 aged 21 and in his seventh game with the club in July 1978 became quadriplegic in a rugby league scrum collapse while playing prop for Penrith. Awarded OAM in 2016 for services to rugby league and to the Penrith community.[22]
  • Bob FORAN, Gilgandra-born and raised horse trainer, owner and race caller across the western NSW racing region, who in January 2012 called his 60th Gilgandra Cup.[23]
  • William Thomas Hitchen (1864–1916), a plumber of Gilgandra and Captain of the Gilgandra rifle club when he instituted and organised the October 1915 Cooee March, a successful WWI recruiting march from Gilgandra to Sydney. Hitchen himself enlisted for the march, and died in England in 1916.[24]
  • Arthur Clifford "Cliff" HOWARD (1893–1971), inventor of the rotary hoe, whose father John Howard moved in 1908 from Crookwell to a property named "Mountain View" at Biddon near Gilgandra. In 1912 when his father introduced a steam tractor engine to his farm Cliff Howard had the idea of applying the tractor's power to blades that would turn the soil instead of compacting it as a pulled plough did. In 1912 Howard created and tested the prototype of his invention on "Mountain View", leading to his patenting the rotary h oe in 1919.[25]
  • Johnny King (B.1942), winger from 1960 for twelve years with St George's First Grade side in the NSW Rugby League competition, whose first seven years with the club were on the winning grand final side, and who represented Australia fifteen times, King was born and raised in Gilgandra and was a Gilgandra jeweller's apprentice when he left for Sydney aged 16.[26]
  • Tony McGrane (1946–2004), Mayor of Gilgandra for 16 years, member 1999–2004 for Dubbo electorate in NSW State parliament.[27]
  • MAWBEY family members, farming family living at Breelong near Gilgandra, murdered in 1900 by indigenous Australian Jimmy Governor - Mrs Sarah Mawbey, Percival Mawbey (aged 14); Grace Mawbey (aged 16), Hilda Mawbey (aged 11) and the family's governess Miss Helen Kerz. [28]
  • Hannah MORRIS (1829–1911), pioneer of Gilgandra, resided in the area from 1852, innkeeper and landowner, and driving figure in establishing Gilgandra township.[29]
  • Don O'Connor (B.1958), Gilgandra-born and raised cricketer played for Tasmania and for South Australia in the interstate Sheffield Shield competition 1981 -1990.[30]

War heroes WWI[edit]

  • Herbert FORAN (1893-1973), Gilgandra-born and raised farmer, enlisted early in WW1, awarded the French Medaille Militare in 1918.[31]
  • Leslie GREENLEAF (1899 - 1980), recent British immigrant working on 'Dick's Camp' Collie when he enlisted in October 1915 aged only 17 as one of the original Gilgandra Coo-ee marchers for WW1. Awarded the Military Medal for action in March-April 1918 at Villiers-Bretonneux, France. He was the last survivor of the original 35 men who commenced the Coo-ee march at Gilgandra.[32]
  • Tom TURVEY (1885 - 1950), born in Dubbo, lived and worked Gilgandra and was a keen amateur boxer when he joined the Coo-ee March in October 1915 as one of the original 35 men starting out from Gilgandra. Awarded the Military Medal for action in February 1917 at Guedecourt, France. He returned to Gilgandra in the 1940s and later moved to Sydney.[33]

War heroes WWII[edit]

  • Malcolm FORAN DFC (1922-1979), son of Herbert Foran, Gilgandra-born and raised, bomber pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force serving in England in WWII, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1944.[34]
  • Alan Donald McKELLAR (1917-1975), Gilgandra-born and raised, bomber pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force serving in England in WWII, in mid 1944 received the King's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air.[35]
  • Rawdon MIDDLETON VC (1916-1942), raised at Gilgandra as a teenager, bomber pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force 1942, posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.[36]
  • Frank MORRIS VCF, raised at Balladoran near Gilgandra, bomber pilot in the Royal Australian Air Force serving in England during WWII, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1944.[37]


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Gilgandra (Statistical Local Area)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 1 February 2015.  Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ Gilgandra Shire Council website, "Community". Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  3. ^ Google maps:,148.6324847,14.04z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x6b08b2057af253ad:0x40609b490437240!8m2!3d-31.6952312!4d148.6558441. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  4. ^ Gilgandra Shire Council website: Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Gilgandra". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 24 September 2009. 
  6. ^ Gilgandra Weekly, 19 December 1946, "The Early Days of Gilgandra" p .7
  7. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics, Local Government Areas, Gilgandra. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Gilgandra " District History". Gilgandra Shire Council ( 2004. Archived from the original on 19 August 2006. Retrieved 2006-02-27. 
  9. ^ "The Coo-ee March". Gilgandra and District. Archived from the original on 17 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  10. ^ "Gilgandra". Peoples Voice. Archived from the original on 7 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  11. ^ a b "Gilgandra". Australian Business Information. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  12. ^ "Business/Financial Services". Gilgandra Shire Council. Retrieved 21 November 2017. 
  13. ^ Western NSW Local Health District, ‘Information for prospective new graduate nurses and Midwives – towns, cities and health facilities’ (as at March 2017). Accessed 21 November 2017
  14. ^ Gilgandra Shire Council, ‘Aged Care’ in Accessed 21 November 2017
  15. ^ Gilgandra Shire Council, ‘Council and Community Care’ in Accessed 21 November 2017.
  16. ^ Gilgandra Shire Council, ‘Disability services’ in Accessed 21 November 2017
  17. ^ "Gilgandra Public School - Home". 
  18. ^ "ST Josephs School Gilgandra". 
  19. ^ "Gilgandra High School - Home". 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Hagan, Jim (2006). People and Politics in Regional New South Wales: 1856 to the 1950s. Federation Press. pp. 271–272. ISBN 1-86287-570-7.
  22. ^ 'Australia Day 2016 Honours List', Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division, at Official Website of the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia, accessed 19 November 2017; Sydney Morning Herald, 4 June 1978; Penrith City Gazette, 26 January 2016,
  23. ^ Central Western Daily -
  24. ^ 'The Coo-ee March' by John Meredith, 1986, Kangaroo Press at pp.11,79
  25. ^ 'Digging Stick to Rotary Hoe: Men and Machines in Rural Australia', Ch 11 "The Rotary Hoe", p. 194, Frances Wheelhouse, published Cassell Australia 1977
  26. ^ Heads, Ian (2014). The Night the Music Died: How a Bunch of Bushies Forged Rugby League's Last Great Fairytale. Stoke Hill Press. p. 136. 
  27. ^ "Mr (Tony) Anthony Michael McGGrane(1946 - 2004)". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 16 February 2010
  28. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 23 July 1900, 'Tragedy Near Gilgandra', p7, col8; G. P. Walsh, 'Governor, Jimmy (1875–1901)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 19 November 2017.
  29. ^ 'The Life and Times of Hannah Morris', Pat Jackson, published 2010 Pat Jackson, Gilgandra NSW;
  30. ^ "Don O'Connor". Cricinfo. 
  31. ^ Commonwealth of Australia Gazette,12 Dec 1918{issue no 191], p.2348.
  32. ^ 'The Coo-ee March', John Meredith, Kangaroo Press, 1986 at p.17 'The Youngest of them All' and p.81
  33. ^ 'Coo-ee March' John Meredith, Kangaroo Press, 1986, "Fighting Tom Turvey' at p. 18 and at p.81.
  34. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 25 January 1944, 'Awards to Airmen', p. 4, col 3'; Gilgandra Weekly, 20 January 1944, 'Honour for Local Boy', p.2 col 6.
  35. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 8 June 1944, "King's Birthday List of Honours, King's Commendations", p.4, col.8
  36. ^ Leigh Edmonds, 'Middleton, Rawdon Hume (1916–1942)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 19 November 2017.
  37. ^ Gilgandra Weekly, 8 June 1944,'Won Honours', p.2 col 3.