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Howlong History

A crossing for explorers

The name Howlong is derived from the Aboriginal word ’Oolong’, meaning a gathering of native companions (Brolga birds), and these birds still nest in the district today. Howlong’s colonial origins can be traced back to 1836 when NSW surveyor-general Major Mitchell set up camp on the southern bank of the Murray before crossing the river as part of his Australia Felix expedition.

In 1838 Joseph Hawdon set off from Howlong on the first Overland Cattle Drive to Adelaide, with 340 head of cattle. The same river crossing used by Hawdon was used that year for the first overland mail delivery, using horse and saddlebags from Port Phillip (Melbourne) to Yass, and then on to Sydney via stagecoach. This river crossing is now serviced by modern bridges.

The town was surveyed in 1854 and town blocks went on sale in 1856.

Howlong History Trail

With historic buildings scattered throughout the town, Howlong’s History Trail provides the perfect way to explore this quintessential Australian country town. The trail totals 13.3kms and covers 28 significant locations in the area.

The Flour Mill, Residence and Mill Hotel are one of the major historic attractions you will find along the trail. The mill was operated by a 26-horsepower engine that ran six millstones and commenced production in 1867. The flour won a gold medal at the Philadelphia World Fair in 1876.

The mill featured an exhaust fan that sucked refuse instead of blowing it over the countryside, indicating that Howlong was in the conservation and environmental business in 1867.

The trail will take about three hours on foot, although many of the points of interest are located near each other in the centre of the town. Take the car and cover the area in around an hour.

Download the Howlong History Trail Map and Guide.