Historic Gundagai, a town with a past and a future

Situated on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River , the famous town of Gundagai has long been a favourite stopping place for travellers along the Hume Highway. Today it is a sympathetic blend of fine historic architecture and modern commercial and residential development. Its expanse of fertile river flats remains to this day, with the central shopping precinct surrounded by a patchwork of pastures and croplands, constant reminders of Gundagai’s role as a service centre for a rich agricultural industry. With its range of cafes, restaurants, sporting facilities, beautiful scenery, picturesque buildings and many things to see and do, Gundagai offers a tranquil yet fascinating holiday destination.

Fine views up and down the Murrumbidgee River valley attract artists of all kind, and the town’s recreational facilities offer relaxing holiday options.

Gundagai is also the ideal centre from which to discover the beauty and recreational activities of the Riverina Highlands, taking in such towns as Tumut, Adelong, Batlow, Talbingo, Tumbarumba, Khancoban and Cabramurra.

One-day tours from Gundagai provide opportunity to visit orchards and vineyards, taking a firsthand look at gold mining heritage, huge timber plantations, historical huts, lakes and rivers and the Snowy Mountains Scheme, enjoy picturesque parks and gardens, Kosciuszko National Park, Mt Selwyn ski resort, Yarrangobilly Caves, waterfalls, trout farms, the Hume and Hovell walking track and more.

Gundagai is an excellent base for visits to other historic towns such as Junee, Cootamundra, Temora and Wagga Wagga.

It was 1824 that the overland explores Hamilton Hume and William Hovell, soon followed by the rivermen Charles Sturt and Thomas Mitchell, opened up the trail for pioneers. Five Mile Creek north of Gundagai became a popular camping spot for teamsters and their supply-laden bullock wagons.

The original Gundagai was surveyed on the wide alluvial flats north of the Murrumbidgee. In 1843 a post office was opened and there were four hotels, several stores, a blacksmith, a school, twenty houses and numerous tents.

On the night of June 24, 1852, the flooded Murrumbidgee raged through the small township, drowning 79 of the 250 inhabitants and an unknown number of travellers, and destroying 71 buildings.

Many people were saved by local Wiradjuri Aborigines Yarri and Jacky, who spent the wild night in frail boats, ferrying men, women and children to safety from rooftops and trees.

Rebuilding took place on the slopes of Mount Parnassus , giving rise to the present town with its many fine heritage buildings.

Gundagai is rich in its association with colonial days. Woven into its historical tapestry are legends of the prospectors, and of bushrangers Ben Hall and Captain Moonlite, drawn by the lure of the miners’ hard-won gold. Reminders of the gold fever which gripped the town in 1861 and again in 1894 may be seen in nearby abandoned goldmines and buildings.