Woolgoolga, New South Wales
New South Wales
Looking down to Woolgoolga from the headland
|Population||5,290 (2016 census)|
|Time zone||AEST (UTC+10)|
|• Summer (DST)||AEDT (UTC+11)|
|LGA(s)||City of Coffs Harbour|
|State electorate(s)||Coffs Harbour|
Woolgoolga is a town on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. It is on the Pacific Highway, approximately 550 km north of Sydney and 365 km south of Brisbane. The closest city to Woolgoolga is Coffs Harbour, which lies 25.8 km to the south. Woolgoolga has two beaches on the Pacific Ocean. The area has long been a centre of banana growing in New South Wales, but this industry has declined in the face of competition from Queensland and overseas. Recent times have seen many banana plantations replaced by blueberries after banana sales slumped in the late 1990s. Timbergetting and sawmilling was established in 1883. A government jetty was constructed in 1892 upon which tramways were laid. These led to sawmills in the town which in turn were connected by light railway to the Jesse Simpson Range forest areas. The jetty was demolished over a prolonged period from 1952 to 1956.
Woolgoolga had a population of 5,290 people in 2016, including 229 indigenous persons and 3,662 Australian-born persons. The median age of all persons is 45 years. Notably, from the Census data, 804 persons (15%) speak Punjabi at home, 661 persons practice Sikhism and 666 persons (10%) were of Indian descent.
Permanent European settlement occurred in the 1870s. Prior to this, the area was inhabited by the Gumbaingirr Aboriginal tribe. It is believed that the name of the town derives from the word "Weelgoolga", which was used by the local Aboriginal people to describe the area, and the lilly-pilly trees that grew there. The name "Woogoolga" was gazetted in 1888, and changed to the current name of Woolgoolga in 1966.
Woolgoolga was an early centre of Sikh migration to Australia. Sikhs had migrated to New South Wales and Queensland prior to the imposition of the prohibition of non-European migration under the White Australia Policy in 1901 and many of them then led a marginalised life on the north coast of New South Wales and in southeastern Queensland. Some Sikhs began to settle in Woolgoolga during World War II, because war-time labour shortages led to a relaxation of the previous prohibition of non-European labour in the banana industry. After the war they were able to acquire leasehold and freehold banana plantations. Woolgoolga has the largest regional Sikh/Punjabi population in Australia, and they are now said to own 90% of the banana farms and are also diversifying into blueberries.
- The First Sikh Temple Woolgoolga (the first purpose built Gurdwara in Australia)
- Guru Nanak Sikh Temple / Gurdwara ('The Temple on the Hill')
As well as those there is another being constructed next to the First Sikh Temple.
Curryfest is the largest single gathering for the Woolgoolga community. Curryfest was inaugurated in 2006 (with the help of local celebrity Jack Thompson), to celebrate the culture of the local Sikh community.
The festival was originally run by the Woolgoolga Chamber of Commerce. This occurred in the initial two years of 2007 and 2008, however the festival became incorporated into its own identity for 2009. The event still uses the name and backing of the Chamber of Commerce but now partially pays for the event itself, including through the introduction of a two dollar entry fee in 2009 (Star FM 105.5 interview 09/04/2009).
Food and wine
Woolgoolga has a pub and a number of cafes and restaurants.
The Seaview Tavern (corner of Clarence and River Streets), also known as The Fountain on the Mountain, is the only pub. There is usually live music on Friday and Saturday nights and a function room upstairs where larger gigs take place.
Bluebottles (corner of Beach Street and Lake Road) is one of the many cafes. It serves as a more upmarket establishment for lunch and dinner. Thursday night is jazz night with live jazz music played throughout the evening.
Other cafes are Taffys, Audrey G's, Ground Earth, and The Beach House.
Restaurants include The Spice Rack, Thai Chai Yo Thai, Singhan Da Dhaba Indian and The Box Factory Burgers.
There are two pizza restaurants in Woolgoolga: Woolgoolga Pizza Place and Riptide Pizzeria.
Woolgoolga also has Woolworths supermarket which is located right on Solitary Islands Way which was previously the Old Pacific Highway.
- Woolgoolga White Pointers, a Rugby Union club whose home ground is Centennial Oval.
- Woolgoolga Seahorses (The Mighty Seahorses), a Rugby league club whose home ground is situated at the local high school's fields. They play in Group 2 Rugby League.
- Woolgoolga United Football Club, a Soccer club situated at High Street.
- Woolgoolga Australian Football Club (The Blues), an Australian Rules Football club who team up with the Grafton Tigers to contest the North Coast Australian Football League competition. The junior competition sides have changed their name to Northern Beaches. The Northern Beaches play a Centennial Oval while the Blues play a minority of their games in Woolgoolga, the majority are played at Ellem Oval in Grafton.
- Woolgoolga District Netball Association, formed in 2006 for ages 5+. WDNA has a local competition as well as representative participation in the Netball NSW State Age Championships. The clubhouse and courts are located on the corner of Nightingale and Scarborough Streets.
- WASP (Woolgoolga Area Surfing Posse), a local boardriders club that holds annual competitions around the area.
- Woolgoolga Surf Life Saving Club, as the name states, a Surf Lifesaving club that has been around since the 1930s, which patrols Woolgoolga Beach. It caters from ages 5–14 in Nippers, and can take part in carnivals held around the area. Ages 15+ can patrol the main beach, if they have a Surf Rescue Certificate or Bronze Medallion.
- Northern Beaches Hockey Club, a Hockey club that plays in Coffs Harbour near the BCU International Stadium.
- Woolgoolga Athletics Club, a club that trains and competes in track and field, at the local high school oval across the summer months.
Notable current and former residents
- Air Marshal Sir Charles Read, former RAAF Chief of the Air Staff.
- Actor Jack Thompson. Thompson has played a vital role in the organisation and running of community events both in Woolgoolga and surrounding regions.
- Emma Moffatt, two-time women's triathlon world champion, attended Woolgoolga High School
- Former Professional Surfer Shaun Cansdell attended Woolgoolga High School.
- Jane Richards, former Hong Kong half marathon champion and notable iron man runner.
- Augusta Supple, theatre director/producer attended Woolgoolga High School.
- Trade diplomat and current Victorian government Commissioner to India, Michelle Wade grew up in Woolgoolga and attended the local public schools https://www.advance.org/blog/2018/10/4/michelle-wade-forging-closer-ties-between-victoria-and-south-asia
- CEO of Choice Magazine, Alan Kirkland attended Woolgoolga High School. https://www.smh.com.au/national/making-the-big-choices-simpler-20130503-2iyd8.html
- Technology entrepreneur Claes Loberg grew up in Woolgoolga and attended the local public schools. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claes_Loberg
Woolgoolga has three schools:
- Woolgoolga High School (opened 1981) is a public high school.
- Woolgoolga Public School (opened 1884) is a public primary school.
- St Francis Xavier Primary School (opened 1994) is a Catholic primary school.
Library and cultural facilities
- Coffs Harbour City Library and Information Service - Woolgoolga branch
- Woolgoolga RSL Sub-branch Museum
- The Coffs Coast Advocate
Bus and coaches
Woolgoolga Taxi Service services the local area.
The nearest station is Coffs Harbour railway station.
The nearest airport is Coffs Harbour Regional Airport.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Woolgoolga (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- Longworth, Jim. "The Jetty and Sawmill Tramways of Woolgoolga", Australian Railway History, February 2007, pp.58-76
- "Woolgoolga". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
- Hayes, Matt. "Woolgoolga-Local History". Retrieved 2007-11-07.
- "Woolgoolga Curryfest-Sikh Indians-Celebrate the Cultural Diversity". Retrieved 2007-11-07.
- More, Dr A; Singh, Mon. "Sikh Community at Woolgoolga". Retrieved 2006-11-20.
- Kohn, Rachael. "The Sikhs in Australia". The Ark. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2006-11-20.
- "Woolgoolga". Destination NSW. Retrieved 11 Nov 2013.
- http://www.woolgoolgaheritagewalk.org/1-guru-nanak-sikh-temple. Retrieved 13 Jan 2016. Missing or empty
-  Woolgoolga Curryfest
- Vuillermin, David (ed.) (2007–2008). Who's Who in Australia 2008. North Melbourne: Crown Content. p. 1766. ISBN 1-74095-160-3.
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