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Wilcannia in 1875

This page is a transcription of an article appearing in a newspaper in 1875 when several newspapers were asked to write articles about their areas to be shown at the Melbourne-Philadelphia Exhibition.

Thanks to Rusheen Craig for the transcription.


August 1875.

At the request of the Philadelphia and Melbourne Exhibition Commission we furnish herewith outline of Wilcannia and surrounding district.

Wilcannia is a newly formed township (1866) situated on the right bank of the Darling River, and is distant from Sydney 550 miles.Its population is rapidly increasing and is now somewhere about 400.

An examination of our advertising columns will show definitely the kind and degree of business transacted. In addition there is a public school, Cricket and Jockey clubs, two doctors of medicine and a resident Church of England Clergyman. An uninhabited dwelling is a thing unknown, and mechanics of various descriptions, and hands used to station work,are at a premium all year round.

The climate is healthy, and for seven months out of the twelve, delightful, but in summer time Wilcannia is too hot and too dusty; the water however is as good and as plentiful as can be obtained in any town in the world. The Government has liberally granted the sum of 30,000 pounds to connect Wilcannia with civilization by means of the electric telegraph, and its present population hope to hear the whistle of the iron horse in the midst of their busy streets.

Meanwhile, imports and exports take place via steamers and barges, a fleet of which numbering twenty to thirty, travel statedly (sic) from and to Victorian and South Australian ports. In this respect Wilcannia is more fortunately located than Bourke, as, month after month, boats are able to reach here when the river is unnavigable higher up.

The town of Wilcannia is encircled by immense pastoral properties, it is the central highway to the southern markets (in time of flood the only one) and is the natural outlet of the trade of some of the richest grazing districts of Queensland, the Paroo, Bulloo, and Wilson Rivers, also, of the new country at Cooper's Creek (the region where Burke and Wills perished) now becoming thickly occupied.

It is evident therefore that a prosperous future awaits Wilcannia, as, prosperous as its best friends could wish it to be. Up the river (90 miles by land, further by water) is Tankarooka, and 70 miles on is Louth, both post villages. From Louth is shipped the copper ore of the Cobar mines, and contiguous is an excellent crossing place for stock.

One hundred miles down the river is Menindie. Menindie maintains a public hospital, a Catholic Church,besides hotels and stores.

Two hundred miles beyond Menindie is Wentworth, a township the same size as Wilcannia, but not so flourishing. Wentworth is not so central as Wilcannia, hence a considerable amount of its traffic has of late diverted into more direct channels.

We must not neglect to mention that 70 miles away is the Great Wilcannia Copper mine. 4 tons of ore from the Great Wilcannia were sent to Adelaide a week or two ago.

The number of Live Stock of the district, as per Government Returns, May 27th, 1875, is, Horses-1,108. Horned Cattle-23,277. Sheep-398,152. Agriculture may be put down "nil" as we import half the vegetables we consume, and all the fruit, and we are likely to continue to do so.

A glance at the people themselves will not, we presume, be deemed irrelevant. In Wilcannia there is no demarkation because of country or creed.



Bridges on road Lachlan to Darling at Tallywalka and near Booligal, balance 1874, ............4,466 pounds..

Bridges - Lachlan to Darling, balance in 1874, ...........5,000pounds.



At a late case tried at Menindie a station manager identified a sheep by ear mark he had made on said sheep when a lamb.

The Jupiter brings a large number of shearers and the Molgewanke cleared out from Goolwa with 50 passengers.

A fine sample of wheat can be seen growing at Tolarno station considering the season and the sandhill it is on.



The brickwork of the Catholic Church is finished, when completed it will be a great improvement to the town.

At Spring Hill Mr. Byrne is putting up a new public-house.

Mr. Harrison is building a store close to Clare Station.

Messrs. Granger and Barry also are making great additions to their estate.



This new mail service started for the first time on Monday. Until further notice it will leave Wilcannia every alternate Monday at noon, via Menamertie, Tarella, Gnalta, Mootwingee and Mount Gipps, arriving at Umberumberka on alternate Wednesdays 6 pm. Leaves Umberumberka alternate Wednesdays, 6 pm. Mr A.H.Peek is the contractor.

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Last updated on 21 July 2018