New South Wales
Partial view of town and Tweed River, 2008
|Population||9,245 (2016 census)|
|Elevation||8 m (26 ft)|
Murwillumbah (// mər-WIL-əm-bah) is a town in far north-eastern New South Wales, Australia, in the Tweed Shire, on the Tweed River. Sitting on the south eastern foothills of the McPherson Range in the Tweed Volcano valley, Murwillumbah is 848 km north-east of Sydney, 13 km south of the Queensland border and 132 km south of Brisbane.
The town's name is often abbreviated to M'bah or Murbah. At the 2016 census, Murwillumbah had a population of 9,245. Many of the buildings are Art Deco in style and there are cafes, clothes and antique shops in the town.
The first people to live in the area were Kalibai people. The name Murwillumbah may derive from an Aboriginal compound meaning either "camping place" – from murrie, meaning "aboriginal people", wolli, "a camp", and bah, "place" – or alternatively from murra, "big", willum, "opossum", and bah. Nearby Mount Warning and its attendant national park are known as Wollumbin, meaning "Cloud Catcher", in the Bundjalung language.
Timber-getters were drawn to the region in the 1840s. The river port at Tumbulgum was initially the main settlement. In 1902, a local government municipality was declared with Murwillumbah as its centre.
Most of the town's business district was destroyed by fire in 1907.
In 1918 an initial 18 allotments were advertised for sale in the Hartigan Estate and a subsequent 200 allotments were advertised for sale in September 1920. The land was bounded by the Tweed River and Commercial Road on the east, Condong Street on the north, Riverview Street on the west and Elizabeth Street to the south. The subdivision was sold as part of the estate of Denis Hartigan. In December 1923, "Bray Estate" made up of 9 farm and farmlet blocks was advertised to be auctioned by A. E. Budd & Son.
Murwillumbah was the location of Australia's largest-ever bank robbery, when $1.7 million in cash was stolen from the vault of the Bank of New South Wales by the 'Magnetic drill gang' in 1978. The case remains unsolved.
Murwillumbah is protected by a series of levees, but they do not protect all parts of the town in major floods. The worst inundation, exceeding those of 1954, 1956, 1974, 2008 and 2009, started on 30 March 2017. The Tweed River reached 6.2 metres (20 ft) after rainfall of over 700 millimetres (28 in) from the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Debbie fell in its upper catchment over a 36 hour period. There was extensive and severe flooding, with mass evacuations from South Murwillumbah and other low-lying areas, and road access cut from both north and south. It fell just short of overtopping the 6.3 metres (21 ft) levees protecting the central business district.
The March 1974 flood caused two hundred people to be evacuated from the town after floodwater from Tropical Cyclone Zoe inundated the area. In January 2008, Murwillumbah and its surrounding areas were hit by severe flooding, while May 2009 saw more evacuations in the town and surrounds after very heavy rainfall.
Murwillumbah has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:
The Pacific Highway passed through South Murwillumbah, but the town was completely bypassed when the 27 kilometre dual carriageway Yelgun to Chinderah upgrade was opened in August 2002. The pre-existing highway, now significantly quieter, was renamed The Tweed Valley Way, and is the main means of access to Murwillumbah from both north and south.
A road leading north west, a scenic tourist drive, heads along the Numinbah Valley through the towns of Chillingham, Numinbah and Natural Bridge. A road south west of the town heads to Kyogle via the town of Uki, passing near to Nimbin en route.
Murwillumbah railway station was the terminus of the Casino–Murwillumbah branch line, and had daily services to Sydney until the line closed in 2004. Today NSW TrainLink coaches to and from Casino provide connections to Sydney, while the station itself is used as a tourist information centre.
Several bus services serve the area. Murwillumbah Bus Company offers regular services to major parts of the town, as well as Condong and Uki. Parson's Bus Service links passengers with Pottsville, Cabarita Beach, and Stokers Siding. Gosel's Bus Service offers services to Nimbin via Uki. Singh's Bus Service links the town to Chillingham, Tyalgum and Eungella. Surfside Buslines operate hourly service to Tweed Heads via Terranora.
Murwillumbah's airfield, Whittle Field (ICAO code YMUR), is named after a noted local World War II Spitfire pilot, the late Bob Whittle. There are no scheduled flights, but its 800-metre grass runway supports Murwillumbah Aero Club and business activities including crop-dusting, aircraft restoration, training and scenic charter flights.
Aside from tourism, the major industry of the area, is sugarcane growing. The sugar mill at nearby Condong was served by numerous tramways until 1973 saw the introduction of mechanical cane harvesting. There is also some dairy farming in the area. Coffee, bananas and assorted tropical fruit and vegetables are also produced throughout the area. South Murwillumbah is home to Stone & Wood Brewing Co.'s second brewery, which opened in 2014.
There are alternative lifestyle retreats nearby, including one of the Hare Krishna organisation.
The annual Tweed Banana Festival, the second oldest festival in Australia is staged in the town. In 2005, the festival celebrated its 50th anniversary.
From 2002 to 2009 an historic motor racing festival was run through the streets of Murwillimbah, featuring a parade through town, a one kilometre hillclimb course, and connected events, attracting thousands of spectators. Modeled on the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Speed on Tweed was a highlight of the local calendar attracting cars and competitors from all over Australia and from Europe and North America. In September 2009 the event was held in conjunction with Rally Australia which has scheduled one special stage in Murwillumbah.
In the 2016 census, Murwillumbah recorded a population of 9,245 people, 52.5% female and 47.5% male. The median age of the Murwillumbah population was 45 years, 7 years above the national median of 38. 81.1% of people living in Murwillumbah were born in Australia. The other top responses for country of birth were England 3.4%, New Zealand 1.9%, India 0.8%, Scotland 0.4%, and Philippines 0.4%. 89.2% of people spoke only English at home; the next most common languages were Punjabi 1.2%, Spanish 0.3%, Italian 0.3%, Tagalog 0.2%, and German 0.2%.
|Climate data for Murwillumbah (Bray Park, 1972–2020)|
|Record high °C (°F)||42.9
|Average high °C (°F)||29.7
|Average low °C (°F)||19.8
|Record low °C (°F)||13.2
|Average rainfall mm (inches)||205.3
|Average precipitation days||14.5||16.1||17.2||14||12.3||10.7||8.5||7.4||7.7||10.6||12.5||13.6||145.1|
|Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm)||11.9||13||13.7||10.4||9.5||7.3||5.8||5.1||5.3||8||9.5||10.8||110.3|
|Average relative humidity (%)||79||83||82||79||80||80||77||73||67||65||73||74||76|
|Average afternoon relative humidity (%)||62||65||64||63||61||59||53||50||51||56||59||60||59|
|Average dew point °C (°F)||20.2
|Average ultraviolet index||12||11||9||7||5||4||4||5||7||9||11||11||8|
|Source: Bureau of Meteorology|
- Hare Krishna School
- Mt St Patrick Primary School
- Murwillumbah East Primary School
- Sathya Sai School
- South Murwillumbah's Infants School
- St Joseph's Primary School
- Murwillumbah Primary School
- Tweed Valley Adventist College
- Hare Krishna School
- Mount Saint Patrick College
- Murwillumbah High School
- Sathya Sai School
- Wollumbin High School
- Tweed Valley Adventist College
Sport and recreation
In popular culture
Murwillumbah was used as the location for the film Lou (2010) starring John Hurt. The ABC television series of the novel Pastures of the Blue Crane was also filmed in the Tweed region in 1969. In 2018, the town was used as a film location for the Netflix-distributed Lunatics (2019) starring Chris Lilley. The town is close to the filming location of British reality TV show I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here and is used as a base for staff and crew working on the show.
Notable people from Murwillumbah include:
- Doug Anthony (1929-2020), Australian politician
- Reginald Arnold (1924–2017), Australian cyclist
- Bob Batty (1939–2004), Australian rugby league player
- Mark Brokenshire (born 1961), Australian rugby league player
- Max Bryant (born 1999), Brisbane Heat & Queensland Cricketer
- Glenn Butcher (born 1961), Australian actor
- Larry Corowa (born 1957), Australian international rugby league player
- Bob Downe (born 1959), stage persona of the comedian Mark Trevorrow
- Nathan Eglington (born 1980), Australian field hockey midfielder and striker
- Stephanie Gilmore (born 1988), Australian surfer with six world titles
- Robert Hagan (born 1947), Australian artist
- John Hargreaves (1945–1996), Australian actor
- Chris Higgins (1943–1990), senior Australian public servant
- Johno Johnson (born 1930), Australian politician
- Anthony Laffranchi (born 1980), Australian National Rugby League player
- Jenny McAllister (born 1973), Australian politician
- Tallulah Morton (born 1991), Australian model
- Walter Mussing (1916–1990), Australian rugby league player
- Barry Singh (born 1965), Australian musician
- Ann Symonds (born 1939), Australian politician
- Alan Woods (1945 - 2008), gambler, mathematician and actuary
- Dylan Wotherspoon (born 1993), Australian International Field Hockey player
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Murwillumbah (Urban Centre/Locality)" Archived 2017-12-01 at the Wayback Machine. 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
- "M'bah rail too costly: report" by Saffron Howden, Tweed Daily News (18 April 2009)
- "Crittle set to tackle Murbah" by Jamie Gallagher and Geoff Campbell, Tweed Daily News (15 December 2009)
- J. S. Ryan, 'Some Aboriginal Place-Names in the Richmond Tweed Area,' Oceania September 1963, volume 34, no. 1, pages = 38-55, p.42
- "About the Tweed: History". Tweed Shire Council. Archived from the original on 20 April 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
- "Murwillumbah: A Brief History". Murwillumbah Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 20 April 2011.[permanent dead link]
- "Advertising". The Tweed Daily. V (172). New South Wales, Australia. 20 July 1918. p. 8. Retrieved 26 March 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Advertising". The Tweed Daily. VII (215). New South Wales, Australia. 11 September 1920. p. 4. Retrieved 26 March 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
- Hartigan Estate, subdivision, Town of Murwillumbah, hdl:10462/deriv/251881
- "Bray Estate Sale". The Tweed Daily. X (304). New South Wales, Australia. 1 December 1923. p. 4. Retrieved 25 March 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
- Bray Estate, Tweed River, Murwillumbah, hdl:10462/deriv/251876
- "Murwillumbah remembers great bank robbery 40 years ago, still wonders where the cash is". ABC News. 23 November 2018. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
- "Flood Plan". Murwillumbah Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 20 April 2011.[permanent dead link]
- "Historical Tropical Cyclone Impacts in New South Wales". Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 19 March 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
- "Remembering Murwillumbah floods". Tweed Daily News. The Tweed Newspaper Company. 6 January 2010. Archived from the original on 11 January 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
- Kristy Martin (21 May 2009). "Mass evacuations forced in Tweed". Tweed Daily News. The Tweed Newspaper Company. Archived from the original on 4 January 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
- "Murwillumbah Railway Station and yard group". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01206. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Boyd, Max (January 2013). "Bob Whittle OAM DFM" (PDF). Timelines. Murwillumbah Historical Society. 1 (3): 1–3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 March 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
- "F/Lt ROBERT JAMES CLARENDON "BOB" WHITTLE DFM". Pacific Victory Roll. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
- "The Sugar Tramways of Northern New South Wales", Armstrong, J., Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, June, 1976, pp. 118–132
- "Banana Festival under way". Tweed Daily News. The Tweed Newspaper Company. 20 August 2005. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
- "Murwillumbah climate: Average Temperature, weather by month, Murwillumbah weather averages". en.climate-data.org. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
- "Murwillumbah (Bray Park)". Climate statistics for Australian locations. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
- Pastures of the Blue Crane on IMDb
- Brennan, Aisling (16 April 2018). "Could Mur'bah be back on screen in new Chris Lilley comedy?". Tweed Daily News. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
- "Max Bryant". Cricinfo. Archived from the original on 1 April 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
- "The one story the English actually give a rat's about" Archived 2011-01-17 at the Wayback Machine by Amy Fallon, The Punch (10 December 2009)