Sunday History Photo / NSW

Submitted: Sunday, Feb 19, 2017 at 09:49
ThreadID: 134320 Views:4054 Replies:5 FollowUps:2
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Bourke is a town in the north-west of New South Wales. The administrative centre and largest town in Bourke Shire, Bourke is approximately 800 kilometres North-West of Sydney, on the south bank of the Darling River.
The first white explorer to encounter the river was Charles Sturt in 1828 who named it after New South Wales Governor Ralph Darling. Having struck the region during an intense drought and a low river, Sturt dismissed the area as largely uninhabitable and short of any features necessary for establishing renewable industry on the land.

It was not until the mid-1800s following a visit by colonial surveyor and explorer Sir Thomas Mitchell in 1835 that settlement of the area began. Following tensions with the local people Mitchell built a small stockade to protect his men and named it Fort Bourke after then Governor Richard Bourke. This first crude structure became the foundation for a fledgling community with a small number of agricultural and livestock farms established in the region shortly afterwards. The area started to flourish when its location on the Darling River had it recognised as a key trade centre, linking the nearby outback agricultural industries with the east coast trade routes via the Darling River.
Bourke was surveyed for a town in 1869 and soon established itself as the outback trade hub of New South Wales with several transportation industries setting up branches in the town.

By the 1880s Bourke would host a Cobb & Co. Coach Terminus, several paddle boat companies running the Darling and a bridge crossing the river that would allow for road transportation into the town and by 1885 Bourke would be accessible by rail, confirming its position as a major inland transport hub. Like many outback Australian townships, Bourke would come to rely on camels for overland transport, and the area supported a large Afghan community that had been imported to drive the teams of camels. A small Afghan mosque that dates back to the 1900s can be found within Bourke cemetery.

As trade moved away from river transport routes, Bourke's hold on the inland trade industry began to relax. Whilst no longer considered a trade centre, Bourke serves instead as a key service centre for the states north western regions. In this semi-arid outback landscape, sheep farming along with some small irrigated cotton crops comprise the primary industry in the area today.

German families deported from the Straits Settlements (now Singapore and Malaysia), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Fiji and Hong Kong, as well as some local internees lived at Bourke in far western New South Wales. They were not housed in enclosed concentration camps like Holsworthy. Those who could afford it rented small cottages in town, and others were accommodated in the gaol and later in a disused hotel.

The families had the freedom to move around the town during the day, but there was little to do there. The small number of internees meant that camp cultural programs and sporting activities did not develop as they did at Holsworthy, Trial Bay and Berrima.
In 1918, the internees were moved from Bourke to the newly-built camp at Molonglo.

The Molonglo camp was located outside of Canberra, in what was then called the Federal Capital Territory (now Australian Capital Territory). It was established late in the war for the arrival of 5000 German and Austrian men, women and children from China and east Africa. However these internees never arrived, so the German families interned at Bourke, New South Wales, were transferred to family accommodation there. The families of local men interned at Holsworthy petitioned the Commonwealth Government for accommodation there too, but the Government knocked back the petition because the Department felt they dind not have financial and material resources available for the foreign deportees.

In 1962 local high jumper Percy Hobson became the first Aboriginal athlete to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal for Australia in Perth. The 5 ft. 10 in. tall Hobson jumped 13 inches above his height to win the event with a leap of 6 ft. 11 inches. While Hobson was urged by athletics administrators ‘not to broadcast his ancestry’, he was celebrated on his return to Bourke and greeted by a brass band playing "Hail the Conquering Hero".
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Reply By: Member - William B (The Shire) - Sunday, Feb 19, 2017 at 11:30

Sunday, Feb 19, 2017 at 11:30
Hello Doug,

My father was stationed at Brewarrina in the 60,s in the police force.
I remember him telling me Bourke was the first inland town to have a water Police station there.

Always planning the next trip. VKS-737 mobile 1619

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AnswerID: 608698

Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Feb 19, 2017 at 12:15

Sunday, Feb 19, 2017 at 12:15
Good one again Doug. Thanks.

However I was rather expecting today's Sunday History thread to be about the Darwin bombing considering today is its 75th anniversary.

The ABC website carried a headline.........

I would consider it somewhat unfair to again bomb the Darwin veterans simply to mark the anniversary. LOL

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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Sunday, Feb 19, 2017 at 13:47

Sunday, Feb 19, 2017 at 13:47
Good point Allan, but I had done it back in year 2009 ThreadID: 65985.
I also had some audio files I played over the radio yesterday on my Saturday morning 4 hour program on FM107.5 in Orange, I played the song released for the 70th in 2012 , "When The Bombs Rained Down on Darwin" by Gary Luck.

.Submitted: Sunday, Feb 15, 2009 at 04:24
ThreadID: 65985

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Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Feb 19, 2017 at 14:10

Sunday, Feb 19, 2017 at 14:10
Doug, can I offer one other point about Bourke.
Fred Hollows, the famous ophthalmologist who provided eye care for the underprivileged, is interred in the Bourke cemetery together with a memorial feature. Although not born in Bourke, Fred worked from Bourke during the 1970's and carried a sentiment for it.

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Reply By: Member - John Q (QLD) - Monday, Feb 20, 2017 at 08:37

Monday, Feb 20, 2017 at 08:37
Hi Doug, well done again and a great read for all. Thank you for your time, effort and research.

John Q
just crusin & smelling the flowers

1. At Halls Creek (Is he really lost?)
2. East of Cameron Cnr

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Reply By: Member - Keith P (NSW) - Monday, Feb 20, 2017 at 21:02

Monday, Feb 20, 2017 at 21:02
Went into the North Bourke Hotel ( not very far from the famous opening river bridge ) to have some lunch and a cool off. The big clock at the end of the bar has only the number "5" all the way round it ...even tho the hands were saying the right time..Didnt take me long to work out it was 5'o clock somewhere in the world.
Food was good and beer was cold too ( back then anyhow ).

Cheers Keith
Nothin is ever the same once I own it ...........

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Follow Up By: Life Member-Doug T NSW - Monday, Feb 20, 2017 at 23:27

Monday, Feb 20, 2017 at 23:27
Hmmmm I wonder what you were drinking..............

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