Pambula, New South Wales

Coordinates: 36°55′S 149°53′E / 36.917°S 149.883°E / -36.917; 149.883
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New South Wales
Pambula is located in New South Wales
Coordinates36°55′S 149°53′E / 36.917°S 149.883°E / -36.917; 149.883
Population1,627 (UCL 2021)[1]
Elevation10 m (33 ft)[2]
  • 454 km (282 mi) S of Sydney
  • 33 km (21 mi) S of Bega
  • 81 km (50 mi) E of Bombala
  • 15 km (9 mi) N of Eden
LGA(s)Bega Valley Shire[3]
State electorate(s)Bega[4]
Federal division(s)Eden-Monaro[5]

Pambula /ˈpæmbjuːlə/ is a town in Bega Valley Shire on the far south coast of New South Wales, Australia 454 kilometres (282 mi) south of Sydney via the Princes Highway. At the 2016 census, Pambula had a population of 970 people.[6]


The area was populated by the Thaua Aboriginal people, with shell middens dating back 3000 years. The name Pambula is derived from its Dharwa name, pronounced "panboola", meaning 'twin waters'.[3] In 1797, the European voyager George Bass explored the area.[7]

Pambula is a historic village with its first European settlers thought to have been the Imlay brothers who established cattle runs on the Pambula River flats in the 1830s. The village of Pambula situated on the flats near the river was planned in 1843 by surveyor Townsend and the first school and churches were built there, but frequent flooding led to the village being relocated to its present site on higher ground.[7]

Captain John Lloyd, RN, acquired land in 1844 with his severance pay when he left the Royal Navy, and built The Grange on the hill near the river.[7] At about that time he invited the family of Syms Covington to move there. Covington had joined the second survey expedition of HMS Beagle as a fiddler and cabin boy. He became an assistant and manservant to Charles Darwin during the voyage and for a few years afterwards before emigrating to Australia. In 1854 he became Postmaster of Pambula, and managed an inn called the Forest Oak Inn which still stands at a bend on the coast road.[8]

The main land uses were grazing and agriculture, and tented accommodation on stock routes was replaced by slab and bark huts, then by more permanent buildings providing homes, housing, smithies, and hotels. Pambula had five licensed hotels by 1856 and the foundation stone for the courthouse was laid in 1860. Pambula was proclaimed a town in 1885.[7]

In 1888, gold was discovered and villages grew up around the mines at nearby Yowaka River and Pipeclay Creek. This created a boom in the town, but in the early 20th century production of gold ceased and the prosperity of the town went into a decline.[7]

William McKell, Premier of New South Wales from 1941-1947 and Governor-General of Australia from 1947-1953, was born in Pambula in 1891.

Pambula continued to be the dominant town of the district, providing facilities which came to include commercial premises, banks, courthouse, hospital, newspaper, and a school of arts. Agriculture developed on the river flats, producing prize crops of maize and potatoes, and a dairying industry became established. Timber felling was carried out in the surrounding forests, and oyster farming was developed in the river.[7]

Heritage listings[edit]

Pambula has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:

  • Princes Highway: Oaklands[9]
  • Princes Highway: Roan Horse Inn
  • Northview Drive: The Historic Grange
  • 42 Toallo St: Pambula Courthouse & Police Station


Pambula is situated approximately 4 kilometres (2 mi) south of Merimbula and has its own hospital, a small supermarket, a community bank, and a primary school. The nearest secondary school is a private secondary school in nearby Pambula Beach. The nearest public secondary schools are in Bega and Eden.


Panboola, the Pambula wetlands heritage project, is located between the south edge of town and the Pambula River. Panboola contains fresh water billabongs, saline areas around the former racecourse, saltmarsh and mangroves, plantings of thousands of trees, shrubs and ground covers, walking and cycle tracks and tables and seats.[10]

Pambula is a significant producer of oysters.[11]


Pambula has a local cricket team, the Pambula Bluedogs. Their home ground is located at the Pambula Recreation oval in the town's centre. The Pambula Sporting Complex is the home ground for the Pambula Panthers Australian Football Club. This club was formed in 1983. The ground is also the home ground for the newly created[when?] soccer club, Pambula United Football Club, also known as The Penguins. Located in between Pambula and Merimbula is the 27 hole course Merimbula Golf Club.


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (28 June 2022). "Pambula (urban centre and locality)". Australian Census 2021. Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ "Pambula Post Office". Daily rainfall. Bureau of Meteorology. Retrieved 14 November 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d "Pambula". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 15 November 2009. Edit this at Wikidata
  4. ^ "Bega". New South Wales Electoral Commission. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  5. ^ Australian Electoral Commission (7 January 2007). "2007 Federal Election: Profile of the Electoral Division of Eden-Monaro". Retrieved 14 November 2009.
  6. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Pambula (state suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 9 July 2017. Edit this at Wikidata
  7. ^ a b c d e f Angela George; Pat Raymond (2006). "Discover Pambala, Walk in the Pioneers' Footsteps" (PDF). Pambula Area Progress and Planning Association Inc. Retrieved 21 July 2008.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "The Journal of Syms Covington - Chapter Eight". Archived from the original on 22 July 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2008.
  9. ^ "Oaklands". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Department of Planning & Environment. H01686. Retrieved 18 May 2018. Text is licensed by State of New South Wales (Department of Planning and Environment) under CC-BY 4.0 licence.
  10. ^ "Panboola Wetlands". Bega valley community network. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  11. ^ "Oysters on the Sapphire Coast, New South Wales".