New South Wales
The Sturt Highway at Balranald
|Population||1,159 (2016 census)|
|Elevation||61 m (200 ft)|
Balranald // is a town and local government area (see Balranald Shire) in the Riverina district of New South Wales, Australia.
The town of Balranald is located where the Sturt Highway crosses the Murrumbidgee River in a remote, semi-desert area. Although it is part of New South Wales, Balranald receives Victorian television stations, with a range of Sydney and Melbourne newspapers available. Balranald was featured heavily in 2010-2015 Australian tourism ads, displaying the natural flora of the region with over 30 subspecies of shrubs native to Balranald and its surrounds.
Balranald is located in Mutthi Mutthi traditional country. The area has a long history before non-indigenous settlement and a strong indigenous culture continues to this day.
In 1848 George James MacDonald, the Commissioner for Crown Lands for the Lower Darling District, arrived at the site of the present-day township with a police escort. Commissioner MacDonald had chosen the site as his base, and he and his entourage set up their camp under canvas. In 1848 Leighton Robinson and Thomas Duggan established a general store at Balranald and during the same year a public-house, the Balranald Inn, was erected by a Mr Robertson.
In 1849 the Crown Lands Commissioner MacDonald recommended to the Colonial Secretary that a township be established at the location. MacDonald was a Scotsman, born at Balranald on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides; he chose the name of his birthplace for the new settlement. He pointed out that the township’s position, on the lower reaches of the Murrumbidgee River, was expected to be of strategic importance with the impending introduction of steam navigation on the Murray.
During 1849 the surveyor Francis MacCabe laid out large reserves in the region of the Lower Murrumbidgee / Murray-Darling junction. Included in MacCabe's surveys was a site "for a Township at the North End of Caiera, otherwise Balranald Reserve". The decision to lay out Balranald township was made in November 1849. Commissioner MacDonald died in 1851 and he was succeeded by Stephen Cole. Cole used Balranald as a base until 1853, when the office of Commissioner for Crown Lands for the Lower Darling District was transferred to Euston where a new house was erected for the Commissioner.
The township of Balranald was gazetted on 4 April 1851 and the first land sale held on 14 January 1852, with thirty-five lots submitted to public auction. On 1 March 1852 an official post office opened in the township. (An earlier post office had opened in the area on 1 January 1850 but closed and was replaced by an unofficial service).From 1853 the mail contractor, John Bent, operated a service along the Murrumbidgee River between Wagga Wagga and Balranald.
A second hotel, the Carriers' Arms, was erected at Balranald in about 1852 by the German, Philipp Comitti (but records show he didn't arrive in Australia until Mar 1854). William Graham acquired the licence of the Balranald Inn in April 1854. Graham held the licence until 1859 when he was murdered. The perpetrator was arrested and later hanged at Goulburn gaol. Denis Hanan then obtained the licence of the Balranald Inn, which he held until 1867. In 1859 Hanan purchased a punt from Captain Cadell and operated it at the southern end of Mayall Street.
The Victorian gold-rushes, which began as Balranald was being established, had a profound impact on the Riverina region by stimulating the development of the fat-stock market. The development of the stock-route across the One-tree Plain to Lang’s Crossing-place tended to direct attention away from Balranald to the region up-river of the Murrumbidgee-Lachlan junction. By the latter half of the 1850s, when the fat-stock market was at its peak, Balranald was exhibiting signs of stagnation. A correspondent from the area made these comments about the township in August 1858: "This obscure and miserable township, situated on the Lower Murrumbidgee, is here attracting a considerable share of attention, as being one of those rowdy places for which the Australian bush in the interior has become so famous".
The Burke and Wills expedition crossed the Murrumbidgee River at Balranald on their journey to cross Australia from Melbourne to the Gulf of Carpentaria. The camels and two of the wagons crossed on the Mayall Street punt on Saturday, 15 September 1860, and the remaining waggons were brought over the next day. Camp XX was set up on the outskirts of Balranald (their twentieth camp since leaving Melbourne).
In order to lighten the loads on the wagons in preparation for crossing the mallee country between the Murrumbidgee and the Darling, Burke left 15 1⁄2 long cwt (790 kg) of sugar, some rice, all eight demi-johns of lime juice, four bags of camel’s sugar, the anvil, bellows, some iron, the blacksmith’s vice, a handsaw, five axes, two rifles, several revolvers and the camel litter at Messrs Sparkes, Cramsie & Co.'s store. He then took on hay and maize for the animals and flour for the men, for which he paid very high prices. Three of the men were dismissed at Balranald and returned to Melbourne, where one of the men, Charles Ferguson, successfully sued the Royal Society of Victoria for wrongful dismissal.
On Monday, 17 September 1860 the expedition departed northwards for Paika Station.
Balranald became a major crossing place for stock from South Australia. In 1866 Peter Young built the Royal Hotel at Balranald and began operating a second punt at the township. A toll-house was later erected on the north bank of the river near Young's punt. William Hall purchased the Balranald Inn and the Mayall Street punt from Denis Hanan in 1867. The Commercial Hotel was erected in 1869 and the first licensee was John Russell. In 1871 a new Post & Telegraph Office was erected at Balranald, the first brick building to be built in the township.
The first church to be built at Balranald was of the Church of England denomination; services began on 6 April 1873 by the incumbent minister Rev. W. H. Yarrington. Two months later the church was consecrated by the Bishop Mesac Thomas of the Diocese of Goulburn (of which Balranald was a part). A Roman Catholic church was completed in 1875. A newspaper, the Riverina Recorder , was commenced in 1877.
In 1881 the population of Balranald was about 400 and it was reported that the town supported five stores and six hotels. Balranald was proclaimed a Municipality in 1882 and Herman Levy was elected its first mayor. The first meetings of the Municipal Council were held in the old Court house at the corner of Market and River streets. A lift-span bridge was constructed over the Murrumbidgee River at Balranald, which opened in April 1883. In 1885 a new Court House was erected in the town. In 1887 Balranald was described as "a squarely built little town with few prominent buildings'. By that stage it had two churches and a Gospel Hall, a hospital, a branch of the Australian Joint Stock Bank, and a Masonic Hall. By 1888 a Presbyterian church had been built there.
The first public telephone service in Balranald was installed in 1911. The Balranald Municipal Council underwent financial difficulties, and in 1912 the NSW Government appointed a Receiver to take charge of affairs. The difficulties seem to have been overcome by the following year.
In March 1926 Balranald was connected to the Victorian Rail system via a line to Echuca. The Balranald railway line is now closed.
In 1944 Norma Male was appointed Town Clerk at the Balranald Municipal Council, the first female town clerk in New South Wales.
In 1956 the local government administrative body became the Shire of Balranald, with Shire Presidents replacing Mayoral positions.
New premises for the Balranald Shire Council were opened in August 1964. They were erected at a cost of £40,000 and are located in Market Street beside the Police Station.
Two large solar farms are being built south of Balranald. Both commenced construction in 2018. The Limondale Solar Farm developed by Innogy, rated at 349 Megawatts, will be Australia's largest solar generation facility when it opens about 16 km south of the town. The Sunraysia Solar Farm, rated at 255 Megawatts (DC), is being built about 18 km south of the town by the Australian-Chinese company Maoneng Group. Both will feed into the existing power grid at the same nearby TransGrid substation.
According to the 2016 census of Population, there were 1,159 people in Balranald.
Balranald has a semi-arid climate with hot summers, cool winters and mild rainfall throughout the year, typical of central-southern New South Wales. The winter and early spring has more rainy days than the rest of the year.
Climate records have been kept for Balranald since 1879. 33.0 °C (91.4 °F) and the average minimum temperature in July is 3.5 °C (38.3 °F). The highest temperature recorded at Balranald was 47.7 °C (117.9 °F) in January 1908; the lowest recorded was −4.8 °C (23.4 °F) in July 1982. The average annual rainfall is 324.1 millimetres (12.8 in).Temperature extremes are quite marked over the full year: the average maximum temperature in January is
|Climate data for Balranald RSL|
|Record high °C (°F)||47.7|
|Average high °C (°F)||33.0|
|Average low °C (°F)||16.4|
|Record low °C (°F)||7.5|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||22.4|
|Average rainy days||3.0||3.0||3.5||4.0||6.2||7.4||8.1||7.9||6.6||5.9||4.7||3.9||64.2|
Agricultural activities in the Balranald district include sheep farming, woodcutting, charcoal production and some areas of irrigated crop-growing along the rivers.
Balranald Shire is the location of Yanga National Park and World Heritage listed Mungo National Park.
The town has an Australian rules football team competing in the Central Murray Football League.
Golfers play at the Balranald Golf and Sporting Club on O'Conner Street.
The first telephone to be used in Australia was installed at nearby "Yanga" station, in order to allow communications between the homestead and the shearers' quarters. The installation was carried out by James Cromyn under directions forwarded from England by his uncle Alexander Graham Bell, an early developer of the telephone.
The Balranald telephone exchange was converted from manual to automatic operation in 1988 to 1990.The manual exchange number prior to automation phone number was (050) 4841 to reach the exchange, then the numbers (050)201-000 to 201-999 were allocated for Balranald subscribers. Following the ACA renumbering in the late 1990s, the numbers are now in the (03)5020-1000 to (03)5020-1999 range.
There are two amateur radio repeaters installed near the town on the 2 metre and 70 cm. bands.
Murrumbidgee River, a major tributary of the Murray River within the Murray–Darling basin and the second longest river in Australia. It flows through the Australian state of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. It descends 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) as it flows 1,485 kilometres (923 mi) in a west-northwesterly direction from the foot of Peppercorn Hill in the Fiery Range of the Snowy Mountains towards its confluence with the Murray River near Boundary Bend.
Hay is a town in the western Riverina region of south western New South Wales, Australia. It is the administrative centre of Hay Shire local government area and the centre of a prosperous and productive agricultural district on the wide Hay Plains.
Menindee, frequently but erroneously spelled "Menindie", is a small town in the far west of New South Wales, Australia, in Central Darling Shire, on the banks of the Darling River, with a sign-posted population of 980 and a 2016 census population of 551.
Gundagai is a town in New South Wales, Australia. Although a small town, Gundagai is a popular topic for writers and has become a representative icon of a typical Australian country town. Located along the Murrumbidgee River and Muniong, Honeysuckle, Kimo, Mooney Mooney, Murrumbidgee and Tumut mountain ranges, Gundagai is 390 kilometres (240 mi) south-west of Sydney. Until 2016, Gundagai was the administrative centre of Gundagai Shire local government area. In the 2016 census the population of Gundagai was 1,925.
The Riverina is an agricultural region of South-Western New South Wales (NSW), Australia. The Riverina is distinguished from other Australian regions by the combination of flat plains, warm to hot climate and an ample supply of water for irrigation. This combination has allowed the Riverina to develop into one of the most productive and agriculturally diverse areas of Australia. Bordered on the south by the state of Victoria and on the east by the Great Dividing Range, the Riverina covers those areas of New South Wales in the Murray and Murrumbidgee drainage zones to their confluence in the west.
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Kerang is a rural town on the Loddon River in northern Victoria in Australia. It is the commercial centre to an irrigation district based on livestock, horticulture, lucerne and grain. It is located 279 kilometres (173 mi) north-west of Melbourne on the Murray Valley Highway a few kilometres north of its intersection with the Loddon Valley Highway, elevation 78 metres (256 ft). At the 2016 census, Kerang had a population of 3,893. Kerang is believed to be an Aboriginal word for Cockatoo. It is home to the largest solar and battery farm in the country which was opened in June 2019. The 50-megawatt battery system is located outside of Kerang and stores 100 per cent renewable energy. The 2,000 solar panels have become a tourist attraction and are drawing many businesses to the town.
Corowa is a town in the state of New South Wales in Australia. It is on the bank of the Murray River, the border between New South Wales and Victoria, opposite the Victorian town of Wahgunyah. It is the largest town in the Federation Council and was the administrative centre of the former Corowa Shire. The name could have derived from an Aboriginal word referring to the curra pine which yielded gum used by Aborigines to fasten the heads of spears to the shafts. Another translation is rocky river.
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Darlington Point is a small town on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River in the Riverina district of western New South Wales, Australia. It is part of the Murrumbidgee Council local government area. The centre of town is four kilometres from the Sturt Highway, along Kidman Way. Darlington Point is 631 kilometres (392 mi) south west of Sydney and 33 kilometres (21 mi) south of Griffith. At the 2011 census, Darlington Point had a population of 1,016.
Moulamein is a small town in New South Wales, Australia, in the Murray River Council local government area. At the 2011 census, Moulamein had a population of 330. Moulamein is the oldest town in the Riverina.
Moama is a town in the Riverina district of southern New South Wales, Australia, in the Murray River Council local government area. The town is directly across the Murray River from the larger town of Echuca in the neighbouring state of Victoria, to which it is connected by a bridge. At the 2011 census, Moama had a population of 5,559.
Pooncarie is a village in south-western New South Wales, Australia in Wentworth Shire. It is on the eastern side of the Darling River between Wentworth and Menindee. The surrounding region of Pooncarie is semi-arid with an outback landscape rich in eucalypt woodlands
Booligal is a village in the Riverina area of western New South Wales (NSW), Australia. It is located on the Cobb Highway, on the Lachlan River north of Hay. Booligal is a part of Hay Shire local government area.
Maude is a village on the north bank of the Murrumbidgee River in New South Wales, Australia. It is in between Hay and Balranald in Hay Shire. It is located 55 kilometres downstream from Hay and 25 kilometres upstream from the junction of the Lachlan River with the Murrumbidgee. At the 2006 census, Maude had a population of 161 people. Maude consists of a General Store, hotel, post office and caravan park. The town is surrounded by market gardens supplied with water from Maude Weir, a popular spot for anglers, looking for yellow belly, redfin and Murray cod.
Kyalite is a locality on the Wakool River in the Riverina district of the Australian state of New South Wales. It is part of Balranald Shire and is approximately 890 kilometres (550 mi) south west of the state capital Sydney and 400 kilometres (250 mi) north west of Melbourne. Kyalite was formerly known as Wakool Crossing. At the 2006 census, Kyalite had a population of 108.
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The Burkes Creek, a mostly–perennial river that is part of the Murrumbidgee catchment within the Murray–Darling basin, is located in the Riverina region of New South Wales, Australia.
The Hay Standard was an English language newspaper published in Hay, New South Wales, from 1871 to 1900. It was the first newspaper published at Hay.
George James MacDonald was a Commissioner of Crown Lands in the British colony of New South Wales where he founded both the city of Armidale and the town of Balranald. He is mostly remembered for his role in leading a contingent of Border Police troopers in a large massacre of Indigenous Australians in the Clarence River region. MacDonald was also considered a talented linguist and writer, producing several published works of poetry and prose reflecting on his experiences in Australia.