Kamilaroi Meaning: Forked Waters
Narrabri is situated 530km northwest of Sydney on the Kamilaroi Highway and 580km southwest of Brisbane on the Newell Highway and is home to the Kamilaroi People. The town’s name means ‘forked waters’, which aptly describes the splintering waterways you will see as you pass over the Namoi River, the Narrabri Creek and the creek’s sub-branch, Horse Arm Creek.
Nestled at the base of the Nandewar Ranges and sitting along the banks of the Namoi River, Narrabri is an explorer’s paradise with an abundance of national parks, walking tracks, unique wildlife and secluded waterways close by. All this is joined by a wealth of excellent tourist attractions, shops and restaurants sure to keep visitors entertained for days. These include Mount Kaputar National Park, the CSIRO Australia Telescope Compact Array at the Paul Wild Observatory and the Pilliga Forest, the largest remnant temperate forest in eastern Australia.
Narrabri is the administrative heart of the second richest agricultural Shire in Australia. Renowned for the production of some of the world’s highest quality wheat, cotton, fat lambs and beef and home to several research facilities, it truly is an agricultural wonderland.
With such a rich agricultural focus, it makes sense that the Narrabri Region has a desirable mix of charming cafes and trendy bars. Start your morning by feasting on a decadent pastry or a scrumptious breakfast at a locally run cafe. Lunch like a local and relax in the cool shade of one of the region’s many restaurants. Enjoy sunsets and spirit tastings with a view of the Nandewar Ranges at an internationally award-winning distillery, before finishing your day with dinner at one of the local hotels. From luxurious décor to unexpected menu offerings, these establishments are modernising what it means to be a country pub and delighting even the fussiest of diners.
Accommodation is plentiful and of excellent standard, including motels, hotels, caravan parks, and bed and breakfasts catering to all budgets.
Narrabri Shire was named “Australia’s Sportiest Town” by Channel 9’s “Today Show”, as a result of the large number of shire residents who have represented their sport on a state, national and international level. This title is also evidenced by the shire’s large number of ovals and sporting clubs.
History of Narrabri
In 1818, John Oxley became the first European to explore the district. Allan Cunningham explored the Boggabri Plains in 1825 and escaped convict George Clarke roamed what is now Narrabri Shire from 1826-1831. His tales of a vast inland river prompted the expedition of Thomas Mitchell into the district, thereby opening it up to settlement.
The first squatting run was the ‘Nurrabry’, taken up in 1834. A town site was first recommended in 1848 at what had become a road junction to the south and west. A hotel was licensed in 1858 and the town was proclaimed in 1860. A post office and police station were established but a catastrophic flood devastated the township in 1864.
An early sign of the town’s importance was the transfer of court services from Wee Waa and the building of a courthouse in 1864-65. A coach service commenced in 1865 and the first public school opened in 1868.
After the Robertson Land Act of 1861, the area was slowly opened up to smaller selectors, and wheat-growing began in 1873. Consequently, the population climbed from 313 in 1871 to 1977 in 1891. The town’s growth in size and prosperity is evident by comparing the two surviving courthouses, one built in the 1860s and the other in the 1880s.
Bridges were built over Narrabri Creek in 1877 and over the Namoi in 1879. The railway arrived at Narrabri West in 1882 and a settlement began to develop around it. Narrabri was declared a municipality in 1883.