Harden - opportunity awaits

Harden and Murrumburrah have a delightful old-world feel. The Shire has a rich gold rush history including many encounters with Bushrangers including the shooting of Sargent Parry in the Shire village of Jugiong.

Today

This historic former railway centre surrounded by Country NSW farmland is a twin town with the nearby village of Murrumburrah.

Scenic Harden shire produces wheat, oats, triticale, canola, lupins, mustard oil seed and fruit such as nashi pears, cherries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, prunes and apricots.

Visit local orchards in season to see how the fruit is processed and stock up your picnic basket. You’ll also find local mustard oils and virgin olive oil, and you can purchase some distinctively flavoured local honey from Harden’s House of Honey.

The Shire villages are Wombat – which hosts an Australia Day Tractor Pull and annual Biker’s Rally; Jugiong, alongside the picturesque Murrumbidgee river – the site of the Sargeant Parry Memorial and Galong here you will find St. Clements Monastery and retreat centre and its extraordinary historical cemetery.

Harden-Murrumburrah has an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and an Olympic pool. There are also shady parks with picnic areas and a caravan park.

The Agricultural Show is held in September, an art-and-craft show in October, the Picnic Races in November and ‘The Best of the Bush’ Festival in March.

Yesterday

There was a lot of gold mining activity around Harden – Murrumburrah extending from the late 1850s well into the 20th century.

In this it had much in common many regional centres across central and south west NSW, most of whom have had a gold mine or two to call their own at some time.

What few other townships can share however is the spotlight that focussed on the region in the opening years of the 1860s.

It was from Murrumburrah that news of a stunning new goldfield just to the north at a paddock called Lambing Flat first surfaced in spring 1860. This was the beginnings of the Burrangong goldfield which soon expanded to include a large tract of the surrounding countryside.

In the anti-Chinese riots on the Lambing Flat field across late 1860 – 61 Murrumburrah played a central role as a refuge for the Chinese fleeing from the violence.

No sooner did this violence subside than the bushranger scourge led by Johnny Gilbert and Ben Hall descended on the region. The guerilla warfare that followed was especially centred upon the countryside and rolling landscapes around Murrumburrah.

On Wednesday, 16th November 1864, thirty two year old Sergeant Edmund Parry was escorting the Gundagai to Yass mail coach when he was shot dead by bushranger John Gilbert at Black Springs near Jugiong.

Parry joined the NSW Police Force in May 1862, just two months after its creation by an amalgamation of the existing Police Forces. He was stationed at Gundagai and on this day was riding with Sub-Inspector O’Neill at the rear of the coach.

On the box seat next to the driver, sat Constable Roche of Yass. In the coach was Police Magistrate Rose of Gundagai. Bushrangers were known to be in the area and another encounter had been predicted by Yass police following bail-ups the previous day.

Gilbert, Hall and Dunn burst upon the escort mid afternoon and the battle wason. Parry bravely challenged Gilbert while Hall and Dunn took on O’Neill. Roche quickly disappeared, possibly under orders from Rose not to draw fire to the coach.

Parry would not surrender.

Gilbert, a superb horseman and crack shot, ended Parry’s life with a revolver ball after several shots had been exchanged. Parry died courageously in the execution of his duty.

Sergeant Parry was the 14th serving police officer to die in the recently formed NSW Police Force.

He is buried in the North Gundagai cemetery.

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