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Population: 312 (2006 census)
St. Lukes Anglican Church (1866)
Taralga lies about 40 kms from Goulburn amidst rolling plains north of the Cockbundoon Ranges.
The rich grazing land here was first traversed by Throsby and Meehan (1819), explorers who opened most of the Tablelands for European settlement.
On this occasion they were on a mission from Governor Macquarie to find an overland route from the new settlements at Cowpastures and Bong Bong to Bathurst in the north - direct access over the Blue Mountains being particularly difficult.
Legend has it that Throsby had also been secretly commissioned to find more pastures for the land hungry Macarthurs, and that on seeing the land around Taralga a horseman was despatched post haste back to Sydney to stake claims over it
Needless to say, when Oxley and Commissioner Bigge passed by a year later on a journey from Bathurst to Sydney Hannibal Macarthur, brother to John, and his cousin James had established large holdings on which they were grazing cattle.
Within 10 years they had been joined by others, many of whom were absentee landlords. Taralga was recognised as a settlement in 1825, although the village was not established until many years later.
The area around Taralga was the traditional land of the Burra Burra peoples, a warlike tribe who often clashed with neighbouring tribes. Although no major clashes with the Europeans seem to have been recorded, nor favourable tales of collaboration with them, their last great gathering or corroboree seems to have been in the 1830s after which they fade from history.
For the first few decades, most of the settlers were convicts assigned to the landowners and it was they who largely cleared the land, built the huts and houses, and ran the farms. Life for them, if contemporary anecdotes are to be believed, was particularly harsh if not brutal.
The first semblance of a village was of their huts: one Thomas Denning, sheep overseer for the Macarthurs, and Duncan Rankin (public pound keeper) built in the 1840s near the site of the present day town.
Taralga as a town was established in the 1860s, with a school in 1857, and churches (Presbyterian) 1861, St. Ignatius (RC) 1864, St. Lukes (Anglican) 1866 and Methodist (now Historical Society building) 1868. There were a number of stores, smiths and artisans' businesses and two hotels recorded in 1866.
The original main street was Macarthur Street, not the present one, and some of the earliest buildings can be found there.
The rapid expansion after the 1860s was partly due to the influx of migrants following the gold rushes, and the Land Acts of 1861 which made it possible for people to take up small grants from the government at favourable rates.
Taralga differs from many towns in that a large proportion of its existing buildings date from the 1860s to 90s (although now subject to later uses) and because most of them are of stone construction - built from the vast number of stones and rocks which litter the volcanic soils for miles around.
These two combined to produce an architectural style which is unique to Taralga - not quite Georgian, not quite Victorian - with a tendency to larger windows and quite substantial construction even for modest dwellings. It also means that the town retains a special heritage of particular interest to the traveller.
The population of Taralga has fluctuated over time - from 100 or so in 1863, to over 700 thirty years later, followed by a decline to half that size immediately after the depression of the 1890s. By the mid 1950s it had regained almost its largest size, but today houses just some 370.
Taralga has been, as might be expected a rural centre for most of its life, with businesses and small industries catering to the needs of the farmer. First mooted in the 1880s, a rural railway branch line from Goulburn was finally built in 1926 (now closed), and an electricity plant set up in the 1930s.
Like most other rural areas it suffered a decline after the 1950s as the motor car brought the outside world closer, and Crookwell then Goulburn became the centres for local business.
Today Taralga is sleepy but friendly town often visited by travellers to and from the Wombeyan Caves.
Its tree-lined main street presents an impressive spectacle, and the many interesting and historic buildings make a stop and stroll around the streets most worthwhile.
Argyle Inn (c.1856)