Small and interesting historic gold mining town
Bingara is an attractive old gold and diamond-mining town of
1250 people, situated 295 m above sea-level in the Gwydir
River Valley. Surrounded by cypress-covered mountains it is
a popular with anglers and fossickers. Gold, sapphires and
tourmalines are still occasionally uncovered in the river
and local creeks.
Bingara is 150 km north of Tamworth along the Fossickers
Way and 562 km north of Sydney. The district produces fine
wool, beef cattle and mixed farming. Pigs, poultry, wheat,
sorghum and timber also contribute to the local economy.
One of the town's endearing traditions is for the young
to pick the fruit from a row of orange trees along one of
the town's streets and give it to the elderly and to
The first European to visit the future townsite was
explorer Allan Cunningham en route to the Darling Downs in
1827. He named the Gwydir River after his benefactor Lord
Gwydir. The first squatter in the area was George Hall who
established the 'Bingera' run c. 1834. The name was an
indigenous one said to mean 'creek' or 'shallow crossing'.
Prior to white settlement the district was occupied by
members of the Kamilaroi tribe. Although there were
murderous clashes between the whites and the Aborigines in
the district, the Bingara area was quite free of conflict as
there were very few indigenous people in the immediate area.
Nonetheless, Myall Creek, about 20 km north-east of the
present townsite, became the scene of a particularly
gruesome massacre. In 1838 eleven white men rounded up and
murdered at least 28 Aboriginal men, women and children. The
murderers later claimed that the Aborigines had been
involved in cattle rustling but there was no evidence to
this effect. Indeed they had been a peaceable group who had
had good relations with the locals.
The members of the posse eventually confessed, asserting,
that they thought killing Aborigines was not illegal. They
believed they were acting heroically and with community
support and public response to their punishment indicated
that this was indeed the case. Eleven were initially tried
and acquitted by the jury. Seven were retried and hung; this
being the first time whites had been punished for such
The town of Bingara was founded c.1840. Settlement
initially occurred on both sides of the river though the
northern bank was later abandoned. The townsite was surveyed
Gold was discovered in the area in 1851 with the
prosperous Upper Bingera goldfields (30 km from the town)
established the following year.
The Bingera townsite was surveyed in 1852 with the first
inn licenced in 1853 and the first store established in
1854. However, Upper Bingera initially developed far more
rapidly with 1 905 persons recorded in 1861 while there were
only 90 residents at Bingera itself. A large proportion of
the prospectors were Chinese.
Bingera received its first post office, lock-up and
public school in 1862. The All Nations Gold Mine gave a
boost to the town when it was established at the southern
end of Bingera in 1868. Named for the multicultural spectrum
of workers on-site, it operated intermittently until 1907
and permanently closed after a final bout from 1938 to 1948.
The settlement was further consolidated when diamonds
were found 11 km west of Bingera in 1873. By the 1890s the
field was Australia's largest. It operated intermittently
between 1872 and 1909. The Star of the South (37 000 carats)
was found here.
Consequently the population gradually climbed from less
than 90 in 1871 to 738 in 1891. With the growth came more
substantial buildings. The first Catholic Church was built
in 1872 and the first Anglican Church in 1875.
Wheat and timber-getting began to increase in importance.
A flour mill and sawmill were both established in 1881 and a
bridge over the Gwydir River was built in 1884-86.
Bingara became a municipality in 1889, at which time the
spelling changed from 'Bingera' to 'Bingara' to avoid postal
confusion with Bingera in Queensland.
Although the population peaked at over 1600 in 1911 the
gold had begun to peter out by the end of the 19th century
and the mines had already begun to close, although
agriculture, grazing and timbergetting in the district
sustained the role of the town as a service centre.
The gold days are now memorialised in the Gold Rush
Festival held at Eastertime when the Easterfish competition
is also conducted.
Things to see:
The Bingara Tourist Information Centre is located in
Maitland St, opposite the council chambers, and is open from
9.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. daily, tel: (02) 6724 0066. They can
furnish maps of the district outlining attractions, as well
as information about local farm stays and precise details on
any of the information below.
Salter's Hotel Museum
The town's local history museum, at 16 Maitland St, is
Salter's Hotel, thought to be the town's first tavern and
certainly the oldest surviving structure in town. It was
built in 1860 of pit-sawn and hand-adzed slabs on a log
floor and retains its original roof of imported puddling
iron. The museum possesses a working smithy and a small
school, as well as gems, minerals, photographs, bric-a-brac
The brick courthouse and lock-up keeper's residence were
erected in 1879. The courthouse has some interesting
decorative elements. Other heritage buildings include the
1882 police station and residence, the Royal Mail Booking
Office (1882) - next to the ambulance station in Maitland St
- the Anglican Church (1889), the primary school (1899), St
Andrews Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church (1904) on
Cunningham St, St Mary's Catholic Church (1907) and the
Imperial Hotel (built as the Gwydir prior to 1889.
All Nations Stamper Battery
The All Nations Gold Mine, at the southern end of town, was
established around 1860 and was the last gold mine to close
(in 1948). It developed into a large underground mine,
operating at four levels in two shafts (the deepest being
100 m). It is situated at the top of Hill St. All that
remains is the ten-headed stamper battery.
Murray Cod Hatchery
Tours of the Murray Cod Hatchery can be organised but by
appointment only, tel: (02) 6724 1726. It is run by the
Bingara Anglers' Club and supplies fingerlings to the local
dams and rivers. Head out of town along the Narrabri Road
then take the first right past the showgrounds into
37 km south-west along the road to Narrabri is the locality
of Rocky Creek. Rocky Creek Gorge and 'Glacial Area' is a
site of some geological interest. More generally it is a
good picnic spot where you can swim in the creek in
summertime amidst huge conglomerate boulders. It is also a
good spot for bush exploration. A leaflet is available from
the visitors' centre.
70 km south-west of town are Sawn Rocks, a series of
interesting pipe-shaped volcanic rock formations.
Three Creeks Gold Mine
15 km south of town is the turnoff on the left on to a 22-km
loop road which, after 10 km, passes the Three Creeks
Tourist Gold Mine and Fossicking Site. 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
The Batterham Lookout (259 m) is located on the outskirts of
town just off the Keera Rd. The approach is very steep and a
4WD is advisable. There are picnic-barbecue facilities and
excellent views of the town and river valley.
52 km east is Copeton Dam, thrice the size of Sydney Harbour
with a large recreation area on the western shore. There are
camp and caravan sites, a kiosk, an amenities block, cabins,
on-site vans, fuel sales, boat hire, a six-hole golf course,
tennis courts, sailing, windsurfing, power boating, water
skiing, fishing, walking tracks, two adventure playgrounds,
waterslides and plenty of wildlife. Access can be gained by
driving east along the Keera Rd for 41 km then turning off
to the left.
Aside from Copeton Dam, the Gwydir and Horton Rivers are
another good source of catfish, yellowbelly and Murray cod.
Camping can be enjoyed along the Gwydir for up to 8 km from
town. The Easterfish angling festival is held at Eastertime
Gold, jasper, garnets, sapphires, petrified wood, fossils
and tourmalines are still occasionally uncovered in the
district. Cadagai Tours organise weekend schools for
neophyte fossickers with instruction in metal detecting. The
Three Creeks Gold Mine mentioned above is another fossicking
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