Bungendore Village 1837
The vicinity was once occupied by the Ngarigu people, and the first Europeans were the exploratory party of Charles Throsby. On Sunday 20 August 1820 Joseph Wild, ex-convict explorer, in company with two other men, became the first European to enter the Bungendore district.
Captain Richard Brooks set up a stock station at Turallo Creek in 1824. That same year, botanist Allan Cunningham recorded the existence of this outstation in the area he called 'Bungadow'.
The village began around 1835 and mail started arriving as part of the Queanbeyan route in 1836. The townsite was approved and Bungendore proclaimed in 1837.
The following year a lock-up was built and The Harp Inn was established as the settlement became an important crossroads which linked, and still links, Goulburn, Braidwood, Queanbeyan, Canberra and Cooma.
'Gidleigh', just south of the present townsite, was established in 1833 by the son of Governor King. William Westwood, a convict, escaped from 'Gidleigh' around 1840 and became a bushranger known as 'Jacky Jacky'. He bailed up a number of people around the district in 1840-41. In 1841 he escaped custody several times (once being temporarily locked up in what is now the Lake George Motel) before being captured and sentenced to Norfolk Island where he was hanged for murder in 1846.
The first post office was built in 1840, an Anglican Church c.1843 and the Bungendore Inn in 1847. The latter became a Cobb & Co staging post. Annual races were established in 1848. Nonetheless, by 1851, the population was a mere 63.
The 1850s saw at least two other hotels established. A flour mill was built in 1861, two denominational schools in 1862, the courthouse in 1864 and a public school in 1868. The foundation stone for St Mary’s church was laid on Sunday 25 May 1851 by Archbishop Polding. St Mary’s was established in about 1860 with the records showing that the church was definitely in use. The 1851 census shows that 68% of the population of Bungendore at that time was Catholic.
The railway arrived in 1885 and the town remained a railhead until the line reached Queanbeyan in 1887. Partly because of the coming railway, the 1880s were a boom period for the town and the population increased from 270 in 1881 to 700 by 1885.
Bungendore has essentially remained a country village serving the surrounding graziers. Hence there are several rural suppliers and related industries in town.
In recent years the social balance in the town has been somewhat altered and it has acquired a slightly more metropolitan air due to the presence of commuters from Queanbeyan and Canberra and of professional people. A number of tourism-oriented businesses have sprung up in town such as antique and art-and-craft shops, restaurants and tearooms. Wineries, hobby farms and turf farming have also emerged of late.
Source of information and drawings:
Errol Lea-Scarlett (1968)., "Queanbeyan District and People"., Queanbeyan Municipal Council, NSW., National Library of Australia Registry No. AUS 68-418;
www.smh.com.au (2008) - (15 May 2008);
Rev. Brian Maher (1986)., "Chords from the Harp, A History of Bungendore Catholic Community"., November 1986.
Barrow, G., and M Carr (1991)., "Old Bungendore - Changing Times in an Australian Village"., Dagraja Press, Canberra 1991.
Drawings by Margaret Carr