A tale of two tiny towns: Weabonga and Nundle

a-tale-of-two-tiny-towns-weabonga-and-nundleThere are two tiny historic villages up in the hills behind Tamworth. One is called Weabonga and is only accessible by a dirt road. The other is called Nundle and has a few more people, an operational pub and a pool (!).

Weabonga is where my Grandmother was born. It is where my Great Grandmother died of a heart attack at 52 after giving birth to 14 children. It is where my best friend Mel’s Dad still lives in the old police station, opposite the house my grandmother grew up in.

Weabonga is home to pure darkness and pure silence, two very rare commodities. It is also home to bikie-operated speed labs, the odd marijuana crop and at least one eccentric rifle-totin’ lady (the latter is my dementia-suffering Great Aunt Betty who is living proof that not all old ladies are sweet).

When I visited recently I was struck, yet again, by how much I love it there. It’s as though this exact geographic point on the map strikes a chord in me that goes way back beyond this lifetime. When I arrive, I find that I never want to leave. Subsequently, I immediately start trying to figure out how I can live in Weabonga and still be gainfully employed (I’ll keep you posted on that – there’s no mobile reception which is a bit tricky for someone who works from home).

The other place I was lucky enough to visit was the ultimate country party venue, The Dag Sheep Station. Located about five minutes down the road from the legendary Nundle pub, Mel’s Dad held his 60th birthday party here.

The theme was Cowboys and Indians, the open bar started at 5pm and there was a real farmer there from Farmer Wants a Wife. It’s possible that one of my city girl friends developed a bit of a crush (you know who you are!).

The Dag, as it is affectionately known, is an old sheep station that has been converted into a weddings, parties, anything venue. It sleeps over 100 people, it has a full bar and onsite catering, a stage and a range of accommodation options from el cheapo (but very comfortable) dorm rooms right up to chi chi la la cabins for the landed gentry.

There is a funny little stone building next to the creek which we later discovered is a sauna, a fully loaded apple tree and acoustically terrifying ‘dunnies’. Eeps.

I loved everything about my trip to Weabonga and Nundle. Proof, I guess, that you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl …

Are you unnaturally attached to somewhere in the country? If so, where is it (and can we go camping there?)?

27 comments on “A tale of two tiny towns: Weabonga and Nundle

  1. Go Nundle!
    I can’t speak for Weabonga Weed or Speed labs…but I have to concur it’s pretty cool in Nundle. Well worth a visit for the ‘Great Nundle Dog Race’ (First Sunday in May) or the ‘Go For Gold Chinese Festival’ (Easter Sat & Sunday) Each Year.
    While your there, check out the lookout over Nundle which my dad and his mate conceived…staked out and bulldozed in their early engineering days…

    (I think my brother was also conceived up there late one night…but that’s another story)

  2. What sort of a DESPERADO would have a crush on someone from a farmer wants a wife?? I loved Weabonga and seeing where your and Mel’s family are from, and Nundle was lovely! Want to have lunch at the grogeous old pub there. We will all have to go back soon, I don’t know the country at all and want to get to know it better x

  3. I love this part of the world. Nundle is a fantastic part of the world and has one of the largest original pubs still standing and operating in Australia. Its got great food, cold beer and very interesting locals. If you are a UFO buff, this area has had alot of reported activity over the years and venturing up into the Ponderosa pine forrest overnight may lead to seeing some very mysterious lights against such a dark sky. I’m also a huge fan of Sheba Dam which has to be one of the coldest water holes I have ever swam in. If you were ever scared of the movie “Frog Dreaming” as a kid, than this is the dam of nightmares….very deep, cold and a little creepy.

  4. Great story, Emma, as I too grew up at Weabonga and LOVE those hills. I went to school at the old police station – Mel’s grandmother was my teacher for primary school lessons provided by the Correspondence School. I hope your Great Aunt Betty is still going strong. What a remarkable woman and so hard working! The McDonald’s were a big family and now their descendants are scattered far and wide.

  5. No way! You know my crazy Aunty Betty and Mel’s Nan?! That’s crazy. How long ago were you doing lessons with Nan?

    My Dad (Kevin Gardiner) wants to build a weekender up in Weabonga and I am 100% behind this plan as Mel and I (and Renee – little sis) all love it up there… so peaceful.

  6. I’m down the dirt road at Limbri.
    Cant wait to leave Sydney.
    Love my family history- keep the dream alive.
    Keep your ears to the ground- weabonga gold rush revisited?

  7. Loved your story Emma,
    glad Im not the only one who feels that way about a place! Soon as I came back to Dungowan and saw those rolling hills and then up to Weabonga to do some mustering for an ol fell it just felt like home!.

    I hope all the history is kept alive and not forgotten.

  8. I also grew up @ Weabonga and feel nostalgic about the place, my paents still live there. Great histoy.
    My parents are having the last ever function to be held @ Weabonga hall before the council shuts it down, it’s a shame, but then the place started dying as soon as he gold dried up a hundred years ago.

  9. My father was a Fisher from Dungowan .My grandparents on my mothers side were Henry(Harry) & Verlie Wallworth lived at Weabonga & ran the general store & post office at Niangala then moved to the Mulla creek property.We recently visited the area to find the old home of my grandparents still standing.My mother Stella Daphne went to school at Weabonga.I would love to hear from anybody who may have known my family. I spoke with Bill Mann the day I visited & learnt some information.We hope to return early next year to the area.

  10. I loved reading this story. I used to visit Weabonga as a child. My grandparents ,The Smiths lived there and my Aunty Joy ran the telephone exchange. Im longing to return.

  11. Many years ago my parents would take us to visit friends of theirs, I think it was Weabonga. Their names were to us Dadda and Mumma Taylor. Their son Bruce and wife Evelyn and boys Stephen and ? also lived on the property. Mum and Dad were Harry & Ruth Hogno. I have wonderful childhood memories going their and would live to find more about them and where the property is. Would have been around 1960’s

  12. Hello Sue
    I’m the ? on the property you remember – Bindawalla at Niangala. I clearly remember your dad coming every year to do our shearing. It was a single man shed and Harry did most of it by himself. Dadda and Mumma were my grandparents and my other Grandfather (Jim Smith) ran the Post Office at Weabonga. My Aunty Joy took over from him and ran the PO until it closed in the 80s. I remember the Taylor and Moore boys having major battles with the McDonalds and Mahoneys around the old jail.

  13. We must be related! My mother is a McDonald! Grew up at Roslyn in Weabonga. Betty married my mother’s brother. Don from memory?

  14. Some puzzles for me here! Who are these people?
    I well remember Jim Smith from the PO.
    As the local teacher in the sixties, I arranged for Jim to come and talk to the pupils for Anzac day. He loved a game of poker and was an avid reader.
    Mahoneys lived in the police station and Walls in the pub.
    There were two operating churches and Perc Buckland was the unofficial mayor

  15. Weabonga has been placed on the map following the recent release of a book called Bush School by Peter O’Brien who was the teacher at Weabonga School 1960 and 1961. Anyone with connections to Weabonga should read this book, although most names have been changed you’ll be able to recognise your families.
    I grew up on “Sandholme” about 3 miles from Weabonga on the Limbri Rd. My brother Howie Webster who was on Series 2 of Farmer Wants a Wife, still lives there

  16. I saw that on the Conversations podcast app! CRAZY! We know Howie – he is friends with my friend Mel’s Dad (Gary Mahoney who lives in the old police station). Who knew Weabonga was about to become famous?!

  17. I love this. Your aunt Betty was my grandmother. She sure was a true inspiration. We often went up there to the farm as children and recently went back up. Love the place.

  18. Hi Emma, which McDonald was your grandmother? Since reading Peter O’Briens book I’ve been trying to remember all the McDonalds…Don, Rob, Clive, Kevin, Netta…but that only 5. Can you name them all?
    It was interesting reading about Betty McDonald in the book…she was utterly devoted to her husband and it sounds like she gave up a lot to go and live at Weabonga.

  19. My Grandma is Pauline (and my Dad is Kevin, named after her brother). She’s still alive – 93 years old and living in Walcha! I am struggling to remember all of Grandma’s sisters’ names …. I’ll come back to you on that!

  20. Walter & Violet McDonald’s family were;
    Don, Nita, Audrey, Rob, Ron, Valerie, Una, Pauline, Marlene, Ray, Kevin, Hazel, Olga.
    Not in order. Hope I haven’t missed one! If so foxes or dingoes may have taken them!

    Ernie & Maggie McGonald’s family were;
    Alma, Les, Vera, Mervyn, Joe, David, Thelma, Margaret.

    That’s only two families originally from Dungowan that lived in the Weabonga area.
    At times other family members also lived there. Grandfather Patrick also had a mail contract to the area.

  21. I love Weabonga as it was my mother home when she was a child .Her parents were Harry and Verlie Wallworth .Their old home is still standing .I can only imagine their life in this quaint little village .Our Great grandfather John Alfred Wallworth , was the second man on the gold fields of this area. I have a photo showing my grandfather Harry ,looking for gold in the “Rainbow” mine as it was called .

  22. Hi Emma,
    My sister Sally and I lived with your grandmother, Pauline for a few months when she lived on New England Highway near Kootingal. I think you lived in the house next door. We went to Oxley High School and had to board privately during the week. I seem to remember that there were twins in your family? I was in Y9 and Sally in Y7.
    I recently visited Weabonga, it was so green and pretty after all the rain.

  23. Hi, I’m doing some family history research and it’s led me to Rywong/ Weabonga. Apparently, back around 1915 Chas Merritt bought a sheep farm from Mrs McEwan there. Is anyone here possibly familiar with those names in their history line? I believe the farm was then sold later to E A Norton. Thanks for any help.

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