Wallendbeen is a small village within the Cootamundra Shire.
In 1832, Irishman Edward Ryan, an ex-convict established himself at Galong and later was granted a pastoral licence on crown land at Wallendbeen and Cootamundra.
This large area of land was known as Ryan’s Run. In 1837 the Wallendbeen section was transferred to a friend solicitor Charles Nicholls of Sydney and the Cootamundra area to another friend ex- convict John Hurley of Campbelltown.
The next recorded history known is the document of sale dated 28th September 1842 of 3,000 sheep and 400 head of cattle from Charles Nicholls to Sir James Matheson of Scotland.
Alexander Mackay was employed as the manager of this run and during the next twenty years many more properties were purchased by Sir James Matheson.
Then in 1860 he decided to dispose of his pastoral interests, around 5,400 acres to Alexander Mackay who then named the place, “Wallendbeen Station”.
During the 1860’s saw steady progress of stock and property, much work was done on fencing and the heavily timbered areas cleared by ringbarking trees.
Great changes took place in the 1870’s as many families selected land around Wallendbeen. Share farming began and roads improved, thus ending the era of very large holdings. By 1890 “Wallendbeen Station” was reduced by many thousands of acres.
Earlier in 1863 Alexander Mackay witnessed the shooting of John Barnes by bushranger John O’Meally. Barnes, who owned stores in Cootamundra and Murrumburrah was riding by the homestead on “Wallendbeen station”, when he was approached by bushrangers. He was asked to stop and hand over his saddle, but Barnes, trying to escape galloped towards the homestead, but O’Meally who was in pursuit shot and killed him from behind.
In 1865, the Mackay’s were again held up in their home and had three horses stolen by Ben Hall and his gang. John Barnes’ headstone dated 30th August 1863 aged 51 years is in the Church of England section of the Cootamundra cemetery.
Alexander and Annie Mackay’s original pise and slab home was situated nearby where they later built a spacious two storey stone homestead in 1879. The walls were of faced granite, which was quarried on the property by stone masons from Scotland.
This historic home, known as Granite house, was situated three miles from Wallendbeen on the Cullinga Road. In 1935 it was dismantled and the stone was used to build the Presbyterian (now the Uniting) Church in Cootamundra. After the Presbyterian Church at Wallendbeen closed in 1948 the memorial plaques in memory of Alexander and Annie Mackay, were placed in the Cootamundra Church.
Wallendbeen, aboriginal word, meaning “Stony Hill” was one the first settlements beyond Yass and its development began after gold was discovered and the railway line was coming through from Sydney. It served as a resting placed for travellers, meeting area for selectors and a supply centre for the gold fields, Cullinga to the east and Lambing Flat, now known as Young to the north.
The first crown land sales for the village were held at public auction in 1877 at the Police offices at Young.
The railway line was opened at Wallendbeen in 1877, with only a platform. The lamp room, house for the porter in charge, good shed, stockyards and weigh bridge were erected by 1883 and they were all situated in the area where the silos are today. After the lamp room was destroyed by fire in 1920, a new railway station was built towards the east where it still stands today.
The first Post Office was established by a private contractor in 1875, then the Railway stationmaster then took over operation of the telegraph station and the Post office until postmasters were appointed from 1884. Increased accommodation for the postal business was provided by the railway in 1893.
By 1902 the Post Office was operating from a building in King Street, and after it was burnt down a building from Cullinga mines was transported to the site where it served the community for many years until the new Post Office, situated opposite was built 1915.
In 1881 saw the first school opened in Wallendbeen, the department rented a room from Mrs Price which was situated west of the Railway station. By 1885, a new school was built in King Street on the site where the present day infants building now stands.
The main school building was opened in 1911.
Wallendbeen, with a population of around 500 people, was proclaimed a village in 1885, as it was offering many services for the travellers and the early settlers. The main street was then situated on the Young Road (now the Olympic Way).
On the western side was a hotel which had a Cobb and Co depot and stables nearby on the bank of the Connaughtman’s Creek. This hotel was owned by the Hillier family, at the time Wallendbeen was proclaimed a municipality in 1892, which at one time was the second largest municipality in NSW. Meetings were held at the hotel until the Council Chambers were built in 1895. The first mayor elected was Peter Sinclair of “Nubba Station” Wallendbeen.
There was a Police Station, produce mill, a tannery, butter factory, butcher shop, brickworks, all operating at this time. On the eastern side was Drummond’s General Store., which was sold to George File Sackett in 1890, a blacksmith-wheel wright then owned by Samuel Hollis who later went into partnership with William Palmer. The brickworks were operated by George Beattie, the large hole where the clay was dug from can still be seen to-day.
After the development of the railway facilities and the building of a new school and Council Chambers in prominent positions above the original settlement, the town gradually moved to its present site and became a thriving community offering all services to the town and district.
In 1935 the Wallendbeen Municipality was absorbed by the shires of Jindalee and Demondrille.
Through the years many changes have occurred, with motor cars and improved roads to the larger centres, Wallendbeen township, like so many others has slowly declined to a typical country village.
The community of Wallendbeen enjoy the quiet and peaceful lifestyle and are proud of the their beautiful surrounds, which is now attracting many new residents from other areas.
Wallendbeen is situated midway between Young and Cootamundra on the Olympic Highway and between Harden and Temora on the Burley Griffin Way and is well known as one of the best wheat growing areas in NSW producing the State Winners 3 years in a row, 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Wallendbeen now offers to the traveller an excellent resting place at Mackay Park featuring the Milestones Sculptures and Barry Grace Oval.
Compiled By: Marcia Thorburn (“The Wallendbeen Story” A history of the Wallendbeen area and over ninety families is available from Marcia, for further enquires phone 02 69432544)