Walgett: Junction of the Rivers

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The town of Walgett is located near the junction of the Namoi and Barwon Rivers in north western New South Wales. Captain Charles Sturt was the first European to see the Barwon in February 1829 while exploring western New South Wales and seeking to solve the “mystery” of its river system. Sturt discovered the Darling River flowing south from its origins in Queensland. Above Brewarrina, the Darling is known as the Barwon River.

In July 1859 the township was surveyed by Arthur Dewhurst and in October a notification appeared in the Government Gazette stating that a site had been selected for a town to be called Walgett, at the junction of the Namoi and Barwon Rivers. The first sale of Walgett town allotments took place in December 1859. The streets of Walgett were named after British Prime Ministers, Fox, Peel and Pitt and after the surveyor, Arthur and Dewhurst. Namoi, Wee Waa and Euroka Streets were named after the settlements to which they were headed.

In 1860 two hotels were built, followed soon by two shops, a post office, police station and pound. They were followed by a blacksmith’s workshop and saddlery. The first bank in Walgett opened in 1876 and a school, hospital and courthouse were built.  Future Prime Minister Edmund Barton was the Crown Prosecutor at the first Court of Quarter Sessions in Walgett’s new courthouse in 1878.  Rapid settlement continued and the town of Walgett was officially proclaimed on the 20th March 1885.

Walgett was a port in the late 19th century for paddle steamers that plied the Murray-Darling river system. The first steamer reached Walgett in 1861 and travelled to the town regularly until c.1870.

Euroka Station, 10 miles (16km) south of the town on the Castlereagh Highway, was purchased by Fred Wolseley in 1876 and was the site of the invention of the Wolseley Shearing Machine. The machine was tested at Bourke in 1888 on 184,000 sheep and eventually revolutionised the shearing industry