Narrandera is a a pleasant town with tree-lined streets in southern New South Wales. It is located on the Murrumbidgee River in a landscape of open plains.
It lies at the important road junction of the Newell and Sturt Highways (the Newell is the direct route for road transport on the Melbourne-Brisbane route; the Sturt takes traffic from Wagga Wagga across to Mildura and on to Adelaide).
To the west of the town are larges farms devoted to cereal (for example, wheat), sheep and wool production; to the east lies the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, with the growing of rice and other cereals, citrus fruits, potatoes and grapes.
A Little History
For thousands of years this area was occupied by the Wiradjuri Aborigines, who were destroyed by European settlement driving them from their hunting grounds, by diseases brought by the settlers, and by armed clashes with the settlers.
Captain Charles Sturt, the English explorer, is the first European to have set eyes on the Narrandera area when he passed through in 1829. There is a monument to Sturt, located near Sturt's camp site, with a sign nearby that reads as follows:
The stone memorial nearby commemorates the passing of this place by the explorer Captain Charles Sturt in December 1829, with George Macleay and six others. The expedition followed the Murray, Murrumbidgee and Darling Rivers and terminated at Lake Alexandrina on the southern coast of Australia. On its almost tragic return journey the party reached reached its former camp site opposite Hamilton Plains near Yanko Creek 11 April 1830. There the party rested while two of the men went forward to procure food. After burning the remains of its boat on 19 April, the party set out for Sydney, where it arrived on 25 May 1830, having solved the problem of these inland rivers.
Settlement began soon thereafter, with Europeans settling along the Murrumbidgee River bank.
In 1860 the village of Narrandera was surveyed and a village proclaimed by the New South Wales government.
Transport improved with the arrival of paddle steamer services in 1868 (better than bullock trains for transporting wool and wheat to the big cities) and the arrival of the first train in Narrandera in 1881.
In 1906 the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area (MIA) began to be construction in area containing the townships of Narrandera, Leeton, Griffith and Coleambally.
In the years 1938-1945 an aviation school, No. 8 Elementary Training School, operated in Narrandera, training pilots to fly Tiger Moth aircraft. Many of these pilots went on to fly in World War II>
In the 1970s a Koala Regeneration Centre was set up in Narrandera and 20 koalas were released into the wild. The koalas have thrived and may be seen on the Narrandera Common between the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Canal and the Murrumbidgee River.
Two famous Australian authors were longtime Narranderra residents: Thomas Alexander Browne who wrote Robbery Under Arms (under the pen name of Rolf Boldrewood) and Father Patrick Hartigan who wrote poety under the name of John O'Brien, such as the poems "Said Hanrahan" and "The Old Bush School" (which were published in 1921 in the book Round the Boree Log, and Other Poems).
Some of the interesting sites in Narrandera are:
* the Hankinson Fountain, a ceramic fountain built by the Royal Doulton Company of England and donated by Alderman and Mrs Hankinson in 1922 in the memory those local residents who served in the First World War set in the beautiful Narrandera Memorial Gardens
* Figtree (corner of King and Cadell Streets) thought to be more than 150 years old
* Mon Repos Queen Anne style residence built in the 1890s by the Roach family; later a private club for the pastoralists and graziers for the Murrumbidgee Club; now again a private residence and antique shop
* Lake Talbot, created from a burst irrigation canal these days the eastern end is used by water skiers and the western end is a wetland habitat for native fauna