Towns and villages of:

argylecounty.com.au

Binda

Population: 130 (2006 census)

St. James' Binda
St. James Anglican Church (1865)
Brief History


The name Binda is the word for "deep water" used by the Gandangara peoples, of whose tribal lands it was part.

First sighted by explorers James Meehan and John Oxley in 1820, European settlement quickly followed in 1825 - notably by two men who both arrived in the colony in 1798.

These were Francis Oakes, Chief Constable of Parramatta, whose sons farmed his lands at Oak Park, Funny Hill and Julong; Rowland Hassall, whose sons farmed a number of his grants around Binda; and Thomas Bray whose descendants have farmed in the area since 1826.

Hassall's eldest son, Thomas, was the famous "galloping parson", the first ordained Australian Anglican priest, whose territory once covered an enormous area from Camden to Bungonia, Lake Bathurst, Crookwell and Taralga - a tradition of travelling to remote areas still practised by clergy in this area up until recent times.

Binda is first mentioned as a locality in the census of 1828, when several ex-convict workers of the pioneer landholders were listed as living there. Other blocks of land were purchased in the 1830s and by the 1840s there was an hotel, police barracks, store, blacksmith and Wesleyan chapel.

The town was gazetted in 1850 - making it the first town in the Crookwell Shire - the land surveyed and subdivided for sale in 1852.

For the next 20 years Binda was the commercial and administrative centre of the Crookwell district. It had the first National School (1851), post office (1852), Court of Petty Sessions (1863), and Anglican parish (1872).

The discovery of gold at Tuena in the 1850s was an important development, as Binda was on one of the roads to the goldfields.

It also aggravated the perennial problem of bushrangers. The rugged mountainous region of the Abercrombie district was an ideal hiding place for the bushrangers who had infested it since the earliest days of settlement.

In earlier days escaped convicts, later delinquent and sociopathic descendants of settlers, both were indiscriminate in pillaging from their victims, and both had a hatred of the police.

Two of the earliest, Whitton and Reynolds, ranged the Binda area; in 1840 they murdered a man at nearby Oak Park, thinking it was Oakes (the former Chief Constable) himself. On capture, Reynolds committed suicide and Whitton was hung.

More notorious was the Ben Hall gang who in an act which showed both ruthless bravado and malice, "bailed up" the entire town of Binda in 1864.

Hall, John Dunn and John Gilbert rode brazenly into Binda with three young local girls to attend a dance.

They first held up the store owned by Edward Morris (a retired police sergeant), then rounded up everyone in the town and locked them in the Flag Hotel where they sported themselves with their paramours.

By this stage the gang had already left a trail of several years of robbery, theft and murder behind them from Bathurst and Forbes to Braidwood and were being hunted by the police. When Morris tried to escape to warn them, the gang burned down his store in retaliation, leaving him destitute.

Hall and Gilbert were later tracked down and shot, Dunn hanged, and two of their girls charged in Goulburn Court for abetting them - a fitting end to a nasty piece of Binda history.

It was not the Hall gang which led to the demise of Binda as a town, but rather the establishment of Crookwell to the south from 1864 onward.

Although there seem to be no figures for the village's population at that time, given that Hall fitted the entire population into a small hall, it was probably about the same as Crookwell's - between 150 and 200.

By the 1870s, however, Crookwell had over 1000 inhabitants, and the commercial and administrative functions at Binda were removed to there, Crookwell becoming the centre of both the district and later the shire.

By 1909 a census showed about 300 people in the environs of Binda. Most of those, however, would have been living on farms as there is little evidence of housing built in the town since the 1870s, nor of the actual sale of blocks originally subdivided for housing.

Binda remained then, as now, a rural area where life revolved around the farms, the store(s), and churches as seen in the history of its social life.

Picnic races have been held here since 1848 at "Funny Hill", the second oldest registered race course outside Sydney.

Tennis was all the rage from the early 1900s, with 4 courts being built on the 'Flat' (the common facing the main street). At one stage the local tennis club had over 200 members. Another 2 tennis courts were built behind the Anglican rectory in 1929.

Indeed, during the 1920s Binda shared in the general post-war prosperity of the bush with a number of local developments, including the Memorial Hall (1920), a convent and school run by the Sisters of Mercy (1920 - 58), Graziers Association (1923), and new additions to the Anglican rectory (1928).

Clubs have been organised over the years for cricket (1880), rugby league (1922) and hockey (1932), although nowadays locals mostly socialise and play in Crookwell. Dances and social gatherings were also held in the Anglican Parish Hall (1954).

Today Binda is a quaint and sleepy little village surrounded by wealthy farmlands producing fine wool, many still farmed by descendants of the original settlers.

More importantly, it contains some excellent examples of late 19th century architecture lovingly preserved and restored by its owners.

Binda is known as the historic administrative centre of Crookwell Shire. It is also an important heritage village.

Old cottage
Miller's residence (c.1890)
Under restoration.


Binda QuickGuide

Crookwell Visitors Information Centre


The Old Mill
The Old Mill (c.1896)
Now a private residence.


Major Events & Festivals
February:
Crookwell Show

March:
Binda Picnic Races


Old Post Office and Store
Old Post Office and Store (1875)
Now a private residence.
What to See and Do
For Visitors.

Binda is 20kms northwest of Crookwell (sealed road) on the way to Bigga and Grabine State Park, and Tuena and north to Bathurst.

The first thing you will notice is the charm of its impressive 19th century stone buildings, some listed on National Heritage Trust. Park the car, get out and take a walk around. (Local map and information available at General Store.)

The store and post office is open 7 days (closed mid afternoons for siesta) and has food supplies, takeaway, ice, gas, petrol, fishing and camping supplies and liquor. Also good stuff on local history. Join the locals for a beer on the verandah in the late afternoon!

There is a picnic area with gas BBQ, toilets. Tennis courts - if you brought ball and racquets with you.

Self-contained accommodation is available at nearby Markdale, plus a famous garden open sometimes in spring and autumn - look in Open Gardens directory for times.

The famous Picnic Races are held every March, attracting thousands of visitors.

Binda is a good place to rest and stock up before venturing on to Lake Wyangala and Grabine State Recreation Area, or the old gold mining town of Tuena further north.


Rose Cottage
Rose Cottage (c.1890)
Formerly 'The Royal Hotel', which replaced
the former 'Flag Hotel' Now a private residence.


For Kids.

Good place for a picnic; children's playground in park. Takeaway, munchies, cold drinks and souvenirs at the shop. If you are going fishing and forgot your line and bait, get it here.

Some interesting old stone buildings to look at: go for a bit of a walk.

Stop a few kms north of the village at the old stone schoolhouse. Notice there are no houses here. 130 years ago schoolkids walked or rode their horses from farms miles around to go to school here. No schoolbuses in those days!

Old School, Funny Hill
National School, Funny Hill (1877 - 90)


Last updated 15/5/08