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Crookwell

Population: 1993 (2006 census)

Crookwell
Goulburn Street, Crookwell.
Brief History


Crookwell lies north of Goulburn high atop the western slope of the Great Dividing Range.

The discovery of this rich farming country followed on from the journeys of exploration by Throsby and Meehan (1828) in search of an inland route to the settlement at Bathurst to the north.

By this time some of the great early landholding families (Macarthur, MacAlister, Howe) had already established themselves on large grants at nearby Taralga.

The earliest settlement in the Crookwell area, however, seems to have been by squatters between 1828 and the 1850s.

They cleared the land and grew wheat and potatoes and grazed stock on the native grasses.

By the 1840s there was an inn and store near where the roads to Goulburn, Taralga, and northwards crossed the Crookwell River, but the major town and administrative centre of the district at that time was at Binda.

During the first 30 years of settlement a number of villages were established throughout the Crookwell district ((Binda, Bigga, Laggan, Grabben Gullen etc.) to serve the adjacent farming areas.

A village reserve for Crookwell was set aside in 1848 on the eastern side of the Crookwell River, but was moved further up the hill on the other side where the town centre is today.

Development did not really come until after the Selection Act of 1861, when a large number of settlers took up land.

The Royal Hotel was built in 1862, a school in 1864, followed by the Wesleyan (1865) and Anglican (1866) churches, and a post office (1867).

The main street was laid out in 1869 and a plan was put in place to develop the town whose population grew from just 130 in 1864 to over a thousand eight years later.

The 1870s were days of prosperity and growth for Crookwell. A passenger coach ran regularly to Goulburn, and the district grew rich on the oats, wheat, cattle, potatoes and sheep of its farms, the first local agriculural show being held in 1879.

Many of its public buildings date from this boom era: hotels, banks, the Court House and Police Station (1878), shops,, factories (tannery, cordial maker, smiths, flour mill, saddlery) and the school.

The Old Bank
Former Bank of NSW (orig. 1876, rebuilt 1914)

Crookwell continued to grow steadily over the next 20 years, the arrival of large numbers of Irish immigrants reflected in the building of St. Mary's Church, as was the increase in smaller farm holdings devoted to dairying and vegetable growing.

By the early 1900s Crookwell was the centre of the entire region and its major town - Crookwell Shire being established in 1906, and a district hospital opened in the same year

Crookwell was of sufficient importance for a branch railway line to be built from Goulburn in 1901 and had become a major rural centre. Crookwell is also significant in being the home of the Country Womens' Association - the first CWA being formed here in 1922.

The first half of the 20th century saw Crookwell suffer the same vicissitudes as other rural centres - a rabbit plague in the 1910s devastated crops and pasture lands, hardly alleviated by a processing and freezing works in the town which shipped the carcasses to the 'starving masses' in England and the skins to hat makers - in an era that still wore hats.

The Great Depression, two world wars, and the increasing centralisation and industrialisation of the nation all took its toll.

By the middle of the century Crookwell was still catching up on the necessities of modern life - electricity (1947), sealed roads (1954), sewerage (1961), a High School (1963).

The nature of its agriculture also changed and changed the town along with it. Small holdings, along with dairying and the butter factory it supported became unviable, to be replaced by potato growing on a large scale. The countryside was not suitable for large scale wheat growing, and the oats and barley which once fed a horse-drawn age became obsolete.

Landholdings became larger - though not as large as the great runs of the original squatters - and specialised in fine wool production and stud cattle.

The age of the railway and motor car closed the many small factories and industries as it was not only easier to get goods out to market, but also supplies in from the big manufacturies in the cities.

This process was accelerated in the last 40 years, as the many abandoned or converted business premises in town attest (look for signs of past prosperity above the awnings of the main street today).

The population of Crookwell is today only twice what it was over 120 years ago. Its position as regional centre to its rural hinterland has been usurped by Goulburn - now just a short drive away.

As it enters the 21st century the nature of its industry has changed: still farming, a weaving mill and famous sock factory, local retail and service industries, and tourism.

As one of the larger towns of the Tablelands it is well worth a visit by the traveller. There is much to do and see, from a glimpse of part of Australia's fascinating rural past, the nearby national parks and caves, the high tech windfarm, to idyllic picnic and fishing spots.

When you visit Crookwell, you are assured of a friendly welcome.


Memorial Hall
Crookwell Memorial Hall (1949)


Crookwell QuickGuide

Accommodation
The Bank House - self cont.
Upland Pastures Motel
Crookwell Wind Farm
Crookwell Visitors Information Centre
Courthouse
Crookwell Court House (1891)


Major Events & Festivals
January
Australia Day Breakfast in the Park

February:
Crookwell Show

March:
Crookwell Country Weekend
Windfarm Open Day
Binda Picnic Races
Crookwell Off Road Racing

November:
Amateur Dramatic Society performances
What to See and Do
For Visitors.

Crookwell is a fine example of a large country town; a walk around its many streets displays examples of buildings dating back to its origins in the mid 19th century, to the boom years of the 1870s, 1890s, and 1900s.

The drive to Crookwell itself is a scenic necessity for the traveller, with spectacular vistas of hills, valleys and rolling plains high atop the Great Dividing Range, and lush farmlands where some of the best wool in the world is grown.

Stop at Pejar Dam for a picnic on the road from Goulburn and at the Wind Farm observation bay to see Crookwell's contribution to the 21st century.

Alternatively, see our Events and Festivals pages for occasional nostalgic trips on the now defunct railway line.

Crookwell Station
Crookwell Station (1901)

There are many other scenic drives to be had around the shire to quaint and historic little villages, the old goldfields town of Tuena, and Grabine Lake State Park - a favourite holiday spot.

Crookwell has three country pubs, two licensed clubs, restaurants and cafes, and a golf course. There are two motels, many good B&Bs, self-contained or farmstay accommodation venues.

In February, visit one of the state's larger country shows and in March a range of interesting activities. Private gardens are open in spring and autumn (see Information Centre, open 7 days, for more details).

A visit to the famous sock factory is a must (just off the main street), and local craftspeople. Several local orchards are open for inspection, plus a berry farm and an ostrich farm. See the Alpaca Shop in the Visitors Centre for beautiful garments made from alpaca wool.

If you like camping and fishing there are many spots around Crookwell to delight you, and lots of picnic areas - from the main street to by a quiet country stream.

St. Marys Church
St, Marys Church (1891)

For Kids.

If you're not familiar with country life, take a stroll around the town and peek in the windows of the shops and look at the old buildings (some of these are older than your grandparents - the buildings, not the shops - see if you can see a date on the top of them!)

See sheep turned into socks at the Sock Factory (well, almost!) Get up close and personal with an ostrich at the ostrich farm.

If you're lucky you might get to stay at a B&B on a farm and see something of farm life, or maybe go camping next to a river where you can catch some trout for tea.

Some good cafes and takeaways in town if you are hungry. Park with playground and swimming pool for hot days. There's also a gym in town if you feel like a workout.

Looking for a country holiday - swimming, water-skiing, fishing, sailing, tennis, golf, bushwalking, camping? Take the family to Crookwell, pick up some supplies, and head off for Grabine Lake State Park at Lake Wyangala!


Last updated 17/5/12