Enjoy learning about Balranald’s intriguing history as you take a step through time and visit some of its most memorable historical sites.
Balranald is a Shire with a colourful past, and as such offers a number of ways to explore the area’s heritage. The town of Balranald is especially fascinating, and is the perfect spot to enjoy the beauty of Outback New South Wales.
BALRANALD COMMUNITY ARTS AND CRAFTS CENTRE
For a taste of true community spirit, visit the Balranald Community Arts and Crafts Centre. Located in one of the oldest buildings in the town, the centre functions as a community telecentre (providing access to computers, printers and a photocopier), art gallery, art and craft shop and school holiday program venue.
Their art exhibitions attract artists from all around the country, which they hold annually. Every Monday, local painters visit the centre to showcase their talents and ideas to the rest of the community, and every third Friday of each month ladies from the outback come and meet as the ‘wool centre’ ladies to knit, weave, sew and crochet.
Balranald Community Arts and Crafts Centre is located at 51 Mayall St, Balranald, NSW.
OLD BALRANALD LOCKUP
Learn about Balranald’s criminal history and the characters who occupied the prison from 1887 until 1977 by visiting the Old Balranald Lockup. Originally a Police Station and private residence, the lock up held both men and women, including many infamous criminals such as Ronald Ryan, who became the last man ever to be hanged in Australia in 1967.
Other known prisoners included Paddy O’ Laughlin, the red-headed Irishman, and a man named Kelly, who would often escape up and over the walls of the exercise yard to buy an ice cream.
Old Balranald Lockup is located at 80 Market St, Balranald, NSW.
MALCOLM BUILDING MUSEUM
Displaying historic photographs and local artefacts, the Malcolm Building Museum provides a fascinating insight into the history of the region. The building was constructed in the late 1800’s and was originally owned by two of the first Stock and Station Agents in the town, Malcolm and Beatty.
In 1986, the Balranald Shire bought the building to be used as a museum and it was officially opened in February 1998. On display are items dating back to the early days, including relics and costumes, a fold up cot and a mural created by school students with assistance from a local artist, Jan Lawler.
The Malcolm Building Museum is located at 85 Market St, Balranald, NSW.
THE MAJESTIC PADDLE STEAMERS
Along the waters of the Murrumbidgee River glide the iconic paddle steamers. A significant means of inland transport in the 19th century, the majestic vessels now attract a large number of tourists and visitors to the area and provide a fantastic way to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Originally, the paddle steamers were used to serve sheep stations and settlements along the river. Between 1855 and 1859, a number of ports were established in Balranald, Hay, Narrandera and Wagga Wagga to ease the navigation along the winding river system, which could sometimes be dangerous.
The first river steamer on the Murrumbidgee was “Mosquito” under Captain Masson, then “Gemini” with Captain Randell, followed by “Lady Augusta” under Captain Robertson.
The Paddle Steamers are located on the Murrumbidgee River, Balranald, NSW.
Originally built as a homestead in 1886 by John ‘Wintong’ Murphy, this heritage steeped building eventually became a schoolhouse for children living on Wintong Station. One half of the building was used as living quarters for the teacher or Governess, the other half functioned as a classroom where the students were taught.
The building was made out of Murray pine, which was a popular and easily attained material in the 1800s. Inside, hessian was nailed to the walls and smeared with mud to make it withstand rain, dust and wind. A curtain of hessian was also used to divide the building into the two separate areas.
The school building was pulled apart in 1995 and rebuilt, using pieces of red gum to replace the ruined sections.
Wintong School is located on Wintong Road, Balranald, NSW.
BALRANALD CENTRAL SCHOOL
Established in 1865, Balranald Central School has a rich and proud history and continues to provide its primary and secondary students with an inclusive curriculum and well-rounded education.
Originally located on the corner of Cally and Market Streets, the school functioned here until early 1930s, when it was moved to a larger block of land on the corner of We and Church Streets.
The new building was comprised of five classrooms, a staffroom, an office and bathrooms, and held up to 240 students. A wooden room brought over from the original school building served as a modern art room and provided students with the opportunity to explore their creativity.
These days, the school offers a variety of learning programs other than the traditional Maths and English, including Sport and Physical Activity, Creative Arts, Technology, Science and Languages.
Balranald Central School is located at We St, Balranald, NSW.
The Theatre Royal in Balranald captures the drama and elegance of the charming town and its long history. Constructed in the early 1920s, the theatre was part of the O’Halloran Picture Theatre Chain.
The theatre has served different purposes over the years, including a dance hall, picture theatre, indoor sports centre and a clothing store. These days it is back to being a popular entertainment venue.
The front of the building features original window fittings and the initials TR are imprinted in to the glass. Inside there is a large stage area, dressing rooms, electronic drop down movie screen, a bar area, foyer and dance floor.
Theatre Royal is located on Market St, Balranald, NSW.
THE BALRANALD WHARVES
The importance of the Murrumbidgee River for transport and trade prompted the development of two wharves beside the river.
Harben’s wharf and Boynton’s wharf were strong and quite large, and allowed for cargo such as wool tallow and hides, as well as merchandise from stores in town to be shipped across the river.
Arguably the most famous explorer to have been linked to the town of Balranald, Captain Charles Sturt is known for his exciting journey down the Murrumbidgee River to Lake Alexandrina and the Murray mouth and back again in a whale boat. His aim was to discover the mystery of whether the rivers flowed into the ocean or into a large inland body of water, which many people believed at the time.
Sturt’s Crossing is located on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, Balranald, NSW.