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1300 136 559

Pleasant service town on the Manilla River
Barraba is an agricultural and pastoral centre on the Manilla River with the Nandewar Ranges to the west, the Horton Valley to the north-west and undulating tablelands to the south-east and north. The district is concentrates on the production of wool and sheep.

The town is situated 500 m above sea-level, 502 km north of Sydney and 90 km north of Tamworth on the Fossickers Way. Its population has risen from 1500 in 1986 to 2370.

The area was occupied by the Kamilaroi Aborigines before white settlement. In 1827 Allan Cunningham crossed the Manilla River, which he named Buddle's Creek, a little to the west of the present townsite.

Barraba station was taken up in 1838. Its name derives from an Aboriginal term, said to mean 'camp by the riverbank'. In the mid-1840s Scotsman John McKid opened the first store on the future townsite which was surveyed in 1852.

Later in the decade gold was discovered in the area at Woodsreef, Ironbark Creek and Crow Mountain. Woodsreef became a vital village at this time but virtually disappeared when the gold was exhausted in the late 1860s.

In 1861 the first school was opened at Barraba in rented premises. A post office was built in 1866, at which time the population was 80. The first Anglican church was erected in 1874-75 and the first bank, the CBC, was established in 1876.

Another boom period developed when copper was discovered at Gulf Creek in 1889. The first mine was established in 1892. At its peak, in 1901, 200 men were employed in conjunction with the copper mine which was one of the largest in the state. A prosperous village developed with bark-hut residences, stores, a school, a hotel and a post office. However, the last major company pulled out in 1911 although the mine teetered on for some years with a handful of employees. The school eventually closed in 1957 and the post office in 1965.

Barraba became a municipality in 1906 and the railway arrived from Manilla in 1908, although it has long since closed down with the tracks removed from town.

Asbestos was first mined at Woodsreef from 1919-1923. However, it was not until 1972 that a large open-cut asbestos mine was opened there, furnishing much local employment, although it closed down in the 1980s. Diatomite mining began north of Barraba in 1982. The area is also rich in chromite, fireclays, gold, limestone, magnesite, copper, chalk and quartz.

Local festivals are BarrArbor, the festival of Barraba, held on the first weekend in November, the Frost Over Barraba Art Festival on the second weekend in July, and the Barraba Potters & Craft Guild Exhibition in September. The local markets are held on the first Saturday of the month. For summer visitors the town boasts a 70-m waterslide.

Things to see:   

Tourist Information and Bird Watching
Barraba's information centre is located at 116 Queen St, tel: (02) 6782 1255. They can provide material relating to 'bird routes' which outline the best places for birdwatchers. The Barraba area is home to a couple of rare species, the regent honeyeater and the turquoise parrot.


Heritage Buildings - Queen Street
The tourist information centre is located in an Edwardian structure which was originally a general store and garage, built in 1908.

Other buildings in the main street are of interest. The courthouse was erected in 1881 with additions in 1907 and 1936. The Dean and Smith Stores, with their old-fashioned shopfronts, were built in 1900. They are now the Barraba Shopping Centre. The Commercial Hotel (an old Cobb & Co changing station) was built in 1890. The Central Hotel dates from about 1908. The large and very prominent clock tower was erected in 1924 in memory of local men killed in World War I. The Methodist (now Uniting) Church at the Edwards St corner was erected in 1898-99. The porch is a recent addition. Barraba Antiques and Olde Wares at 101 Queen St is located in a 1910 building with an ornate brick parapet.


Victoria Hotel
The Victoria Hotel was built in the early 1890s. The building was initially used by the Commercial Bank. In 1894 it was robbed. At the time the manager was having lunch with his wife and six children in the dining room. Hearing a noise he entered the banking section to find two masked men. Ordered to bail up he refused and made a break for the dining room. Prevented by a gunshot he grappled with one of the culprits for the gun, in the course of which he was shot in the head. When his wife screamed the robbers fired two shots through the door leading into the dining room. The bullet holes can still be seen in the door that divides the lounge and bar of the hotel. The culprits were caught and hanged. The building became a hotel in 1899. The second storey was added in 1909.


Nandewar Historical Society Museum
Nandewar Historical Society Museum at 71 Queen St is housed in a former shop, built in the 1890s. It is open by appointment, tel: (02) 6782 1523 or (02) 6782 1212. The town's first sale yards were once located behind it.


St Laurence's Church of England
St Laurence's Church of England (built of locally-made bricks in 1908-1909), at the corner of Fitzroy and Maude Sts, is one of the town's more notable buildings. The 19th-century pipe organ is a beauty. The vestry was added in the early 1950s. The original church was designed by distinguished architect J. Horbury Hunt and built in 1874-75 but was demolished in 1906.


St John's Catholic Church
St John's Catholic Church (1905-06) is at the corner of Fitzroy and Savoy Sts. Additions were made in the late 1940s.


Morrow Row
Also in Savoy St is the Morrow Row, originally eight identical drop-slab houses built of timber from the forests around Narrabri in 1895 for the employees of store owner William Morrow. Three retain their original structure.


Adams Lookout
Adams Lookout, 5 km north-east, is named after Alfred Adams who purchased Barraba Station in 1850. To access the site turn right off Fossickers Way at the signpost, 3 km north of Barraba This is the access road to the old Woodsreef mining site. There are fine views of the town and surrounds.


Woodsreef and Ironbark Creek
About 18 km from Barraba are Woodsreef and the Ironbark Creek picnicking and fossicking area. Gold was discovered at Woodsreef in the late 1850s and a thriving village soon developed with a post office, stores and school, but it virtually disappeared when most miners left in the late 1860s. A small number, employed by larger companies, stayed on. Asbestos was mined here from 1919-1923 and a large open-cut asbestos mine opened at Woodsreef in 1972, furnishing much local employment, though it closed down in the 1980s.

Today there are some remnants of those various phases of the village's existence, such as old copper, gold and asbestos workings. There are only a few buildings extant. The tiny wooden structure was built c.1895 and used as post office. The little wooden church dates from 1923. The site is open to the public at all times. Gold, agate, petrified and opalised wood, and jasper have been found in the area which is popular with fossickers.


Cunningham Memorial
The Cunningham Memorial, a roadside obelisk, is 7 km west on the Trevallyn Rd. It marks the site where, in 1827, Allan Cunningham crossed the Manilla River (which he named Buddle's Creek), making him the first European in the area.


Little Creek
Little Creek is 21 km north-west of Barraba on the Trevallyn Rd. It is attractively situated with picnic and toilet facilities. There is a 25-ha recreation area adjacent. Further along the road is Bereen Mountain which has excellent views of the Horton Valley.


Horton River Falls
Just before reaching the Little Creek Reserve, there is a turnoff to the left into Mt Lindsay Rd, 20 km from Barraba. This road soon becomes gravel and can be affected by weather so phone the Barraba Information Centre to check road conditions before setting out. Follow this road for 10 km then turn right at the signposted turnoff. 6.5 km will bring you to the Horton River Falls which plunge a considerable distance amidst rugged mountain scenery (but only after decent rains). There are picnic and barbecue facilities, bushcamping and bushwalks, including a steep and difficult trail almost to the bottom of the gorge (over one hour return).


Elembee Farm
The last stretch of road to the falls takes you past Elembee Fine Fibre Farm, a goat stud set amidst 500 ha of bushland with bushwalks, pet farm animals, sales of cashmere products made on the farm, barbecue and picnic areas, morning and afternoon teas.


Mt Kaputar National Park
Continue west along the main road for another 13 km. Stick to the right at the intersection and the road continues on to Mt Kaputar National Park. The dry-weather-only road concludes at a gate. From there you can walk the last 4.5 km along Mt Kaputar (1524 m) to the Dawsons Springs campsite where there is an amenities block, two cabins and picnic-barbecue-toilet facilities. There is a camping fee and a short nature trail. In all the park has a dozen walking tracks (some are outlined in a pamphlet available from the National Parks and Wildlife Service office at 100 Maitland St in Narrabri, tel: 02 6799 1740). The main access route to the park is via Narrabri.


Diatomote Mine
About 10 km north of Barraba along the Fossickers Way is a turnoff on the right to the Barraba Diatomite Mine, Australia's largest producer of the mineral. Viewing of the operations can be arranged through the Barraba Information Centre.


Old Gulf Mine Site
Cobbadah is located 19 km north of Barraba on the Fossickers Way. 5 km further north there is a turnoff on the right which leads to the Old Gulf site where copper was discovered in 1889. The first mine was established in 1892. At its peak, in 1901, 200 men were employed in conjunction with the copper mine which was one of the largest in the state. A prosperous village, with a population in excess of Barraba, developed with bark-hut residences, stores, a school, a hotel and a post office. However, the last major company pulled out in 1911 although the mine teetered on for some years with a handful of employees. The school eventually closed in 1957 and the post office in 1965. All that remains today are the old school (built in 1896) and a poppet head.


Three Creeks Gold Mine
28 km north is the turnoff on the right on to a 22-km loop road which, after 12 km, passes the Three Creeks Tourist Gold Mine and Fossicking Site. In an area long worked for gold there is also a working gold mine. Bushwalks and tours of old mine shafts are carried out by the owner. There is also bush camping, panning and fossicking and a small museum of mining-related artefacts.


Split Rock Dam
The turnoff to the Split Rock Dam Recreation Area is clearly signposted to the left, 30 km south of Barraba along the Fossickers Way. There are toilet, barbecue, picnic, boating and camping facilities. It is noted for its fishing and aquatic activities.

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Phone: 1300 136 559
















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