highlands.nsw.tourinfo.
About This Site
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Quick Guide: About the Southern Tablelands; Contact Us; Credits & Copyright; Disclaimer Statement; Feedback; Link with us; Privacy Policy

THE WEBSITE

The idea for a tourist and community information website for the Southern Tablelands region was first suggested to me in by a local business proprietor.

This interest was a result of the success of the Southern Highlands tourist & community information website, the next region north towards Sydney .

This latter website began mid 1998, and is now one of the largest and most comprehensive resources of its kind on the internet for regional Australia. It has been singularly successful in promoting tourism to that region, helping to inject millions of dollars into the local economy.

In mid 1999 we also commenced a regional website - www.stonequarry.com.au for the Wollondilly Region (next north on the highway to the city) which has also positioned itself on the internet as a definitive resource for tourist and community information for that region on the internet.

The Argyle County site was started in 2000 and today we continue to load as much information as we can to make it as an effective internet presence as our other sites.

More information is added regularly: do come back and visit us again.

ARGYLE COUNTY

Why Argyle County?

It is hard to imagine that less than 200 years ago the area now known as the Southern Tablelands was a vast grassland sparsely inhabited by local aboriginal peoples (Mulwarrie, Tarlo, and Burra Burra tribes) who appeared to have traversed the region on regular migrations according to the seasons.

First sighted by Europeans in 1798 (Wilson), the area remained unexplored for another two decades, the Governors of the time restricting settlement closer to the colony in Sydney.

The story of the first settlements outside of 'The Cowpastures' is well known (see Southern Highlands website), with further explorations by Throsby (Bong Bong and the Southern Highlands) and of the 'Goulburn Plains' and Lake Bathurst - 1818 to 1819 (Meehan, Hume, Oxley) leading ultimately to land grants and settlement for grazing purposes.

To Surveyor General Meehan belongs the credit for the name Goulburn (after the British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies - an interesting comment on colonial attitudes of the times); and to Governor Macquarie, who visited the region in 1820, the name of Argyle County, after his birthplace in Scotland.

First overseen from Berrima (seat of County Camden, which stretched from the Highlands to modern Camden), colonial administration moved to the town of Goulburn (c.1849) and Argyle County stretched far south to the Murray River, and west inland. These outlying areas were divided into further 'counties' with local administrations but they are included in this site which covers the southern tablelands and parts of the south west slopes.

Goulburn was at the end of the Great South Road which ran from Sydney, Liverpool, Camden, and Bong Bong (later Berrima). The Garroorigang Inn was said to be the last inn on the old road, and from here tracks led further inland.

Many 'Argyle Streets' lie within towns on this old route, and the old Argyle County began at Paddy's River, south of Sutton Forest.

By the coming of the railway (1860s) Goulburn was already one of inland Australia's largest towns, and had the distinction of being declared Australia's first inland city in 1863, by virtue of the establishment of a new Church of England Diocese there.

Goulburn also holds the distinction of being the last city in the British Empire established by Royal Letters Patent, issued by Queen Victoria.

By the end of the 19th Century Goulburn was a thriving metropolis, and the countryside around it was renowned for being the centre of fine wool production. Long after nearby mining ceased as deposits were worn out, Goulburn had a range of primary and secondary industries, as well as being a major railway engineering centre.

Other towns in the Tablelands, many of which started their life as mining towns, continued to thrive into the 20th century - mostly as agricultural centres.

Goulburn itself, however, never reached the size or importance of other inland cities such as Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria.

Growth here, and in other towns, was adversely affected by the establishment of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory in the 1920s, which gradually sucked the regional corporate headquarters of businesses and other facilities out of the surrounding countryside.

Even the Bishop moved to Canberra, leaving the diocese in the curious position of having the Cathedral and seat of the See in one place, and the bishop in another.

With the virtual contraction of distance in the Motoring Age, first the smaller towns of the Tablelands declined as people travelled to Goulburn and Canberra to do their shopping, then Goulburn itself began to contract as people travelled more easily to Canberra and Sydney.

By the end of the 20th century, the loss of local horticulture and agriculture to industrial sized farming further inland, the closure of local industries due to amalgamation and the centralisation and rationalisation of production, the decline in importance of the traditional wool industry, and the ultimate marginalisation of its country towns bypassed by the Freeway (so even they lost the travellers' business), has led to a contraction of services, jobs, livelihoods, and the importance of the region.

Even the tourism promoters have reduced this once important region to 'Capital Country' - as if it only serves as a doorway to the Federal Capital itself.

Today Goulburn and the other towns and villages of the Tablelands stand at the crossroads. Their future, though uncertain, is assured.

Ultimately, urbanisation will catch up with it, just as Macarthur (around Campbelltown) and the Highlands (around Bowral) are in the process of being swallowed up by the insatiable demand of urban Sydney.

The advent of the Very Fast Train, due 'some time real soon', will change the face of Goulburn forever, to be swallowed up in the vast conurbations typical of other parts of the world.

In the meantime, however, time allows for the preservation of much of the natural beauty and historical significance of the area, a process which will be assisted by the growth of tourism.

Small villages are being revitalised, and a hiatus in the inevitability of development means many of the significant and historical buildings and sites in Goulburn and its surrounds have the chance of being preserved and enjoyed well into its third century.

For the city dwellers of Sydney, Canberra, and the Illawarra wanting to escape from the rigours of urban life, Goulburn - the Southern Tablelands - old Argyle County, is just an hour or two away.

For the international tourist prepared to tear themselves away from the sybaritic pleasures of the coast, here is an opportunity to discover and explore part of the real Australian countryside and the nation's earlier history.

Better still, the traveller will find an overnight stay - or a longer holiday - ridiculously inexpensive compared with the big cities or the usual over-hyped tourist destinations.

Come and discover old Argyle County, and the modern Southern Tablelands. Be prepared to be relaxed and refreshed; be inquisitive and search out the interesting places to visit; be absorbed by the natural beauty and the overwhelming serenity of the great Australian countryside.

HOW TO USE THIS SITE.

Main sections are shown on the Home Page. From here you can go to further Directory pages, leading on to Details pages.

From Directories, you can navigate straight back to the Home Page. From Details Pages you can navigate back to their 'Directory'. Alternatively, look for the "Where We Live" logo and link on hosted pages: it will take you straight to the Home Page.

In some places you may also find links to other sites. These can take you on a further adventure. To come back to our site, we recommend you bookmark our Home Page or your favourite page in it.

Now, browse on!

PROPRIETARY DETAILS

Trademarks, trade, and business names are the property of their respective owners.

For comments, or information about inclusion in this site contact us at:

For information about tourism, organisations, or businesses mentioned in this site contact the principals concerned or your local travel agent.

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This page last updated 10/1/12