Booligal, New South Wales

Booligal, New South Wales

Infobox Australian Place | type = town
name = Booligal
state = nsw

caption = General store
lga = Hay Shire Council
postcode = 2711
pop = 42 (within 7 km radius) [ [ Booligal] ]
est =
elevation= 83
maxtemp =
mintemp =
rainfall =
county = Waljeers
stategov = Murray-Darling
fedgov =
dist1 = 757
location1= Sydney
dist2 = 215
location2= Griffith
dist3 = 102
location3= Ivanhoe
dist4 = 41
location4= One Tree [ [ Travelmate] ]

Booligal is a village [ [ Geographical Names Board of NSW] ] 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 the Hay Shire Council local government area.

The name of the village is an Aboriginal word meaning either (1) 'windy place', or (2) 'large swamp', 'place of flooded box trees'. [Reed, A. W., "Place-names of New South Wales: Their Origin and Meanings" (Reed: 1969); Reed, A. W., "Aboriginal Place Names" (Reed: 1967).]


Township beginnings

The site where Booligal township developed was originally a crossing-place on the Lachlan River on the "Boolegal" pastoral run (which had been taken up by the Tom brothers). The township developed on the opposite side of the river to "Boolegal" station (later known as "Bank" station). The builder Edward Roset and his family were living at the locality by about 1856. Edward Roset’s wife Bridget died on 27 February 1857, just one week after her 22-month old daughter had died of dysentery; Bridget Roset and her daughter were the first interments in the Booligal cemetery. Edward Roset constructed a hotel at Booligal (possibly in collaboration with Neil McColl), which probably operated initially as a sly-grog shop. In 1859 Robert Whiteus was operating a punt at the locality. [‘Lower Murrumbidgee’ correspondent, "Sydney Morning Herald", 31 March 1857, p. 3; "Plain Facts of the One Tree Plain", compiled by Ruth K. Smith, 1977; ‘Recollections of Lang’s Crossing Place (Part II)’, "Riverine Grazier", 22 December 1883; Crossley, Norman, "Beyond the Lachlan: A History of Tom's Lake and the Crossley Family", 2005.]

The township of Booligal was laid out by Surveyor Edward Twynam and gazetted as a township in July 1860. [Bushby, John E.P., "Saltbush Country: History of the Deniliquin District", 1980, p. 152.] In December 1860 it was reported that a store and two public-houses were being erected in the new township. Licenses for the two hotels were initially refused by the Bench of Magistrates at Hay “on account of there being no police belonging to the locality”. [‘Lower Murrumbidgee’ correspondent, "Sydney Morning Herald", 8 January 1861, p. 3] On appeal however the applications for licenses at Booligal were granted. Neil McColl became the licensee of the Drovers’ Arms Hotel (possibly the renovated Roset’s hotel) and John Ledwidge was granted a license for the Booligal Hotel. On 31 January 1861 – “the first red letter day at this new township on the Lower Lachlan” – both hotels were opened to the public. [‘Lower Murrumbidgee’ correspondent, "Sydney Morning Herald", 11 February 1861, p. 2.]

In March 1861 the Adelaide firm of Randell and Scott opened at store at Booligal. The manager, Thomas Hitchcox, was briefly postmaster. In August 1862 it was reported that both hotels at Booligal were closed and the two publicans were insolvent. Hitchcock resigned as storekeeper to take over the license of the Booligal Hotel. Another Adelaide firm, Morgan and Pollard, opened a second store at Booligal by 1863, managed by Henry N. Smith, who became postmaster until his death in June 1868. [Busby, "op. cit"., p. 152; "Pastoral Times", 23 August 1862, p. 2.]

1870 to 1900

During 1871-2 Edward Roset had a bridge built over the Lachlan River at Booligal: “Mr. Roset is showing himself a man of extraordinary public spirit, he is bridging the Lachlan with an immensely strong bridge, the piles are three feet diameter at the butt, and driven twelve feet into the bed of the river; the approaches are excellent, and work to the present time has cost over £2,000, and it is half done”. Roset’s new bridge (for which he charged a toll for its use) was opened for sheep traffic on 3 September 1872 (and for general traffic later in the year). The bridge, which still remains at the lower end of Lachlan Street, was built above flood level and flanked by extensive banked-up approaches. ["Hay Standard", 28 February 1872, p. 2; "Hay Standard", 11 September 1872, p. 2.]

In April 1877 in was reported that Booligal consisted of nineteen buildings, including a court-house, two hotels, two stores, a blacksmith's shop and two butchers' shops, as well as a school-house and a parsonage. The school-house and parsonage were new buildings, still incomplete. At that stage the population of Booligal was over 100 persons. ['The Western Riverina: A History of Its Development' by James Jervis ("Royal Australian Historical Society Journal and Proceedings" Vol. XXXVIII 1952), pp. 141-2 (citing "Sydney Mail", 7 April 1877).]

In 1878 the telegraph line was extended to Booligal.

Booligal’s position on the direct transport route linking the Murrumbidgee and Darling rivers ensured its importance in the district during the latter half of the 19th century. Drays hauling wool from stations north of the Lachlan passed through the township in large numbers, and station supplies were transported in the opposite direction. Booligal was a major stopping-place for the mail and passenger coach travelling between Hay and Wilcannia on the Darling River.

In 1890 Booligal had a population of about 500 people.

1901 to the present

A new public bridge was built at Booligal in 1912 (replaced in 1984 by the current concrete structure). A telephone exchange was opened there on 3 June 1913. [Crossley, "op. cit".] In 1914 the transport link between Hay and Wilcannia ceased to operate. Booligal had been experiencing a steady decline, especially since the protracted drought at the turn of the century. Many residents of the town and district moved to the new township of Griffith after the First World War. [Bushby, "op. cit".]

In 1967 a memorial to explorer and surveyor John Oxley was erected at Booligal; the monument is in the form of a giant theodolite set in stone. [ [ ‘Booligal’] , Walkabout: Australian Travel Guide, FairfaxDigital.]


The village of Booligal has a general store and post office. There is a cricket oval for the occasional social game, shaded eating areas, playground and toilet facilities. The Booligal Hotel offers cold beverages, food and accommodation. A one-teacher primary school was recently re-opened in the village. [ [ ‘Booligal’] , Hay Tourism and Development Inc. web-site (accessed 31 January 2007).]

Poetry & Literature

A. B. 'Banjo' Paterson (1864–1941) wrote a poem called "Hay and Hell and Booligal" [cite web
title = Hay and Hell and Booligal
publisher =
url =
accessdate = 2008-09-06
] about the district.

External links

* [ Hay Historical Society homepage]
* [ Hay Shire Council - Official Website]
* [ Booligal Sheep Races]


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