|The General Store with
the old style lamps in the foreground at the
historic town square
Small and interesting historic village once the home of
Binalong is a quiet and historic little village of some 250
people set amidst wooded hills on Burley Griffin Way. It is
320 km south-west of Sydney and 37 km north-west of
Yass, at an elevation of 480 metres.
Prior to European occupation there was a large Aboriginal
population in the area, mostly Ngunnawal people. Indeed the
town's name derives either from an Aboriginal word said to
mean 'towards a high place' or from 'Bennelong', the name of
a noted Aborigine.
In 1821 the exploratory party of Hamilton Hume became the
first known group of Europeans in the area. Hume returned
with William Hovell in 1824 during their ground-breaking
expedition to Port Phillip Bay (i.e., Melbourne). Settlers
followed them, bringing flocks of sheep which represented
the start of the local wool industry.
In its early days the township was a major stopping place
for Cobb & Co coaches. When the railway arrived in 1876 it
became a departure point for gold shipments from Lambing
Flat (see entry on
Ben Hall's bushranging gang harried the district around
Binalong throughout 1863 and 1864, robbing travellers,
stores and mail coaches. Johnny Gilbert, a former compatriot
of Frank Gardiner and a member of Hall's gang, was killed in
1865 during a gunfight on the Boorowa Rd, near Binalong. His
grave can be seen on the outskirts of town.
One of Australia's best-known poets, A.B. 'Banjo'
Paterson, moved to nearby 'Illalong' station (opposite the
Illalong Quarry on the Yass Rd) at the age of five, when his
father bought the property in 1869. The bank foreclosed but
Paterson Snr stayed on as the manager of 'Illalong' and of
two adjoining properties.
'Banjo' attended school at Binalong but, in 1874, was
sent to a grammar school in Sydney, returning to the station
in the summer holidays. The township featured in and
influenced a number of his poems (e.g., 'The Bush
Christening'). His father is buried in the local cemetery.
An antique auction is held on the third Sunday of the
month in the old mechanics' institute in Wellington St, tel:
(018) 650 258.
Things to see:
The nearest information centre is at Yass, tel: (02) 6226
Historic Buildings and Park
The town square is quite fascinating boasting an old general
store (originally built as the Australian Joint Stock Bank),
a fountain and old style lamps.
The old Cobb & Co Inn (1847) on the Yass Rd is now the
Black Swan Restaurant while the original Patterson Pub
(1840s), built of pise and bricks, now houses a real estate
office. The old two-storey courthouse in Queen St dates from
1883. Adjacent is a single-storey brick policeman's
residence with gambrel roof. The old railway station,
erected in 1876 and closed in 1915, is now a private
Pioneer Park has toilets, picnic facilities and free
electric barbecues in the centre of town.
Binalong Motor Museum
The Binalong Motor Museum incorporates a restoration
workshop. The vehicles, including Bugatti, Ducati, Lotus
Elite, Delage and Norton motorcycles, are usually in working
order and the display changes regularly. The restoration
workshop is part of the display. There are picnic-barbecue
facilities, refreshments and sales of books, posters and
models. It is open Friday to Monday and Wednesdays from
10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. at a cost of $5 for adults and $2
for children ($4 for coach groups), tel: (02) 6227 4406.
Southern Cross Glass
At Southern Cross Glass in Queen St you can observe Peter
Minson creating both functional and art objects. While
individual entry is free, coach groups are charged a small
fee for a demonstration and talk. He is open weekends,
public holidays and most weekdays, tel: (02) 6227 4312.
Kuriong Sheep Station
1 km from the village is Kuriong Sheep Station which offers
coach groups a chance to see shearing, working sheep dogs,
whipcracking, drenching, branding, spinning, antiquated
machinery and other processes,. Hand-knitted jumpers and
handicrafts are for sale and morning teas, afternoon teas
and lunches can be arranged. For details ring (02) 6227
4222. The station is only open for group bookings.
|The grave of Johnny
Gilbert near Binalong
Flamboyant Canadian-born bushranger Johnny Gilbert, a member
of Ben Hall's gang, was killed in 1865 during a gunfight on
the Boorowa Rd. If you head out of town along the Harden Rd
for 1 km his grave is to the left at the town outskirts.
The sign at his grave notes:
John Gilbert - Bushranger. Was shot by Constable John
Bright in a battle with police near Binalong on Saturday 13
May 1865. Only 25 years old at the time of his death he had
followed a life of crime for 10 years and was the most
reckless villian (sic) of the Gardiner-Hall gangs of
bushrangers. On the credit side it can be said he was a
splendid horseman, a deadly shot, game with fists or gun.
Always polite to women and of irrepressible good humour and
witty speech. On Tuesday 16th May 1865 the body of "Flash"
Johnny Gilbert was buried in the police paddock near
The shoot-out occurred just eight days after Hall was
Forbes . Gilbert and his comrade John Dunn were hiding
out in a hut owned by Dunn's grandfather, John Kelly. Kelly
informed the police of their whereabouts and when the sun
arose on May 13 they had the hut surrounded. As the troopers
rushed the hut the pair fled for the bush firing but Kelly
had wetted Gilbert's cartridges and the bushranger was
struck fatally in the chest. Dunn was caught at the end of
the year and hung in 1866.
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