The Shire is dominated by the Murray-Darling River system and the town of Wentworth is located on the confluence of those two rivers. The dry plains and numerous lakes and ancient drainage basins provide extensive and unique areas of landscape and vegetation providing habitats for vast forms of birdlife and wildlife.
The Shire contains very significant examples of geological, paleontological and archaeological interest, for instance, part of the Willandra Lakes Conservation area, which has been recognised as a World Heritage Area and contains extensive fossil remains from the pleistocene period. There are many examples of the remains of extinct mammals and birds, including the mega fauna, or large marsupials, that died out over 20,000 years ago. Throughout the Shire there are examples of mallee extending westward from the Darling River and there are areas of very special scenic quality related to sand dune progression, erosion and drainage.
Wentworth Shire contains some of the most significant known sites of Aboriginal occupation in Australia. The earliest Australians arrived on the continent some 40,000 years ago. The first records of these people are found at Lake Mungo. The River Murray was one of the most densely populated parts of Australia therefore its foreshores, tributaries and adjacent lakes are home to a large distribution of artefacts, middens, burials and the like.
The Shire has some two hundred and eighty four (284) registered sites currently listed with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, and many new sites are being investigated. These sites include some very important finds in Australia, relating to Aboriginal morphology and culture, including the significant Lake Nitchie area, the Rufus Creek Massacre burial site and the Snaggy Bend Aboriginal burial ground. The area has not been extensively investigated and many potential sites are subject to change through urban and rural development, and in particular, the effects of flooding, farming practice, tourism, and recreational development.
European occupation of the Shire began in the late 1840's with the expansion of pastoralism into the area. Agricultural pursuits and the subsequent rural settlement of the area was highly dependent upon the rivers for water supply and as a transportation route. By the 1850's a regular river boat trade passed through Wentworth carrying wool clips to markets and importing domestic items which
precipitated the Shire's development. Wentworth township served as a vital port due to its location on the confluence of the Murray and Darling Rivers.
The Shire, due to its distant location from the State's nucleus, Sydney, was often forgotten by the administrative powers and lacked financial aids of the State. The main ties were with South Australia and Victoria and as a result the extent of its development was hindered by lack of funds and attention. However the Wentworth township and nearby Moorna Station were central to the administration of the vital and wealthy pastoral concerns of the Darling District. A town site surveyed at Moorna Station was even given consideration as the capital of Australia at the time of Federation.
The dominance of pastoralism is notable on the frontages of the Murray, the Darling and the Anabranch by the abundance of fine homesteads, of which many today are derelict or altered. The effects of overstocking and land clearing during the zealous years of growth are evident today as areas of land degradation and erosion.
The expansion of the river boat trade was mainly the responsibility of Adelaide entrepreneurs. The New South Wales Government were mostly concerned with the collection of duties resulting from interstate trade. However, at the turn of the century funding was forthcoming for the purpose of irrigation. Horticulture, resulting from irrigation, developed early in the twentieth century and is mainly responsible for the establishment of the settlements of Curlwaa, Dareton, Buronga and Gol Gol.
As previously mentioned, the history of the Shire can be viewed as a series of development eras which reflect the main events or happenings with the Shire. The following is an overview of each of these eras, which are detailed in Appendix 4.
Exploration parties headed along the unknown Murray and Darling Rivers in an endeavour to discover the inland sea. Captain Charles Sturt, in 1829 entered the headwaters of a wide river which he named the Darling. A Government conceived expedition then sent Sturt to trace the Murrumbidgee and he entered a mighty river which he named the Murray. He came across a river junction which he was convinced was the Darling, in 1830. In the following years Surveyor General Major Thomas Mitchell travelled similar routes confirming Sturt's finds.
Joseph Hawdon and Charles Bonney drove cattle overland from New South Wales to Adelaide along the Murray and arrived at the Darling/Murray river junction in 1838. Other overlanders followed the route and the river junction spot became an established camp site known as
Hawdon's Ford. The actual junction at the time was called "The Rinty". The settlement was later referred to as the "Darling Junction".
In 1844, exploration of the lower Darling from Laidleys Ponds (Menindee) to the Darling/Murray Junction, was undertaken by Edward John Eyre.
A number of squatters established reign over the land along the Darling and Murray Rivers, expanding their holdings westwards from the Murrumbidgee area and north eastwards from South Australia. The junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers was the site of the settlement now know as "McLeods Crossing". Transport to the area has been improved with the coming of the Murray River boats and steamships. The land proved to be an ideal location for grazing large stocks of sheep. Squatters continued to take claim to land along the frontages disregarding the territory of the Aborigines.
1861-1870: The River Trade
The river boat activities along the Murray and Darling Rivers encouraged further active growth of the area. Settlements and stations continued to concentrate around the frontages to take advantage of the river trade and a reliable water source. The arrival of the first river borne wool at Goolwa was start of an important era in Australian history. Steam navigation of the river followed and the junction of the Murray and Darling naturally became the site of the township to become an emporium of the river traffic and a depot for the supply to the interior. Further settlements started to spring up as points of exchange along the river, and located where the steamships could renew their supplies of wood.
The great flood of 1870 was the largest to be recorded in the Shire. The township of Wentworth had gained recognition as a major port and growth centre within New South Wales. By 1879 the town was proclaimed a municipality.
The western land was thrown open for settlement and the wealthy western squatters had their vast lands reduced in size. The settlers and squatters were stricken with seven seasons of dry weather and subsequent poor wool clips. The additional onslaught of the rabbit plague coupled with overstocking began to cause much erosion and land degeneration. Nonetheless, the settlements
continued to thrive and grow at a reasonably rapid pace. Across the Murray the Victorians had been investigating the possibility of developing an irrigation area at Mildura.
The agricultural viability of the land was rapidly diminishing as a result of the rabbit plague, exacerbated by overstocking, drought and land clearing. The pastoral properties divided into small resumed allotments caused grief to many a settler because of the inability to sustain ample production. Some holdings were being abandoned and as a result, a new Land Act was passed to hand back resumed lands to the stations until required for settlement. The dismal pastoral industry resulted in demands for the sufficient funding of an irrigation scheme to be established along the Murray, east of Wentworth.
Irrigation breathed new life into the district that had been ravaged by rabbits and drought. The Wentworth Irrigation Scheme (Curlwaa) enabled the production of fruits and vines of high quality.
The pastoral leases had expired by 1900 and land administration initiatives were enacted to assist in repairing the damaged properties.
By 1929 a series of locks and weirs, to assist navigation and pumping, had been completed on the Murray River. An improved system of road networks, state-wide rail links and motorised transport reduced the need for river boats as a source of transportation, communication and trade. Irrigation areas within the Shire expanded and new settlements were established, including Dareton. The Victorian town of Mildura continued to grow and prosper, acting as a regional focus, reducing the potential expansion of facilities in the towns within the Wentworth district.
During 1956 Wentworth Shire experienced one of the largest floods on record, second only to the 1870 flood. The flood was more damaging than any previous due to the intensification of development along the river frontages.
Wentworth was proclaimed a Shire in 1956. Wentworth township no longer provided the focus for commercial activity due to the demise of the river trade and expansion of Mildura. Horticulture was gaining credence as a most valuable industry in the Shire. Communications and services in the Shire improved significantly.
The continuity of the Shire's development has been explained by a series of themes which are described within each of the eras of development. The following paragraphs detail the environmental heritage of the Shire with specific reference to these themes, which are expanded upon in Appendix 4.
The Murray River, Darling River and Great Anabranch of the Darling are integral to the heritage of the Wentworth Shire. The otherwise flat and dry landscape of the district is given life and vitality by the two largest rivers in Australia.
The ancient river and lake systems within the Shire enticed habitation by the earliest recorded Aboriginal populations. The Aboriginal tribes lived closely with nature in the district for some forty thousand years.
After the first fifty years of white settlement in Australia, the rivers attracted numerous exploration parties and subsequent expansion of pastoral exploits to the river banks. Utilisation of the Murray and Darling Rivers as major transport arteries supporting the explosive river trade of the late nineteenth century encouraged further development of the area. Later, management of the Murray River through a system of dams, locks and weirs resulted in the first irrigation settlement in New South Wales. Management of the river, increase of surrounding human activities, and introduction of exotic aquatic flora and fauna have significantly changed the appearance of the rivers. The Murray was once recorded as a blue stream adorned with water lilies. This is by no means a description of the turbid river seen today.
The junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers, at Wentworth, is the site of first European settlement within the Shire. This along with the river channels themselves are rated to be of important environmental heritage significance to the Shire. Furthermore, the Murray and Darling rivers are vital to the heritage of Australia as they initiated and continue to play an important role in the development of the nation.
Numerous lakes and billabongs are scattered throughout the Shire. Many lakes are remnants of the ancient drainage basin of the Lachlan River and are presently dry salt beds. An extension of the Menindee lake system is evident in the northern portion of the Shire.
Further south, as part of the Murray system, Lake Victoria has significant heritage value. Acquired by the South Australian Government as a vital part of the Renmark Irrigation scheme, the lake is a retainer of important fossils, aboriginal relics and was a drawcard for early pastoralists. All the lakes within the Shire provided habitats for past Aboriginal communities and vital water source for intricate and unique ecosystems.
Part of the Willandra Lakes World Heritage area lies within the Wentworth Shire. Willandra lakes are the remnants of the ancient Lachlan drainage system and are comprised of a series of dry lake beds with intricate and unusual dune and lunette formation. The area has world heritage listing due to its geomorpholigical significance.
The usually flat landscape of the Shire is corrugated by a series of longitudinal dune systems. These dunes, sometimes vegetated, provide an interesting and colourful addition to the landscape and often play host to important Aboriginal relics and fossils, particularly burials, and bones of mega fauna which are believed to have become extinct some 20,000 years ago. Some of the more obvious and significant dunes with the Shire include:
Perry Sand Dunes
Foreshore of Lake Victoria
Lake Mungo Shores
A notable landscape feature of the Shire are the cliffed banks of the Murray River. These are particularly evident downstream from Wentworth. A passengers guidebook issued by Murray Shipping Limited, quoted comments of a journey down the river describing the cliffs in the following fashion:
"we pass through cliffs of sedimentary rock, composed of friable sandstone and clay, with an amazing richness of coloration, running from the bright browns and yellows of the sandstone to the blue and black in the banks of clay." (Drage, 1976, pg 39).
The red, orange and sandy hues of the Shire's landscape are interspersed with the grey/green Eucalypts and blue bush. The water courses are characterised by significant vegetation stands including the majestic River Red Gum. Large expanses of Mallee are distributed throughout the shire, particularly in the western and eastern portions. Other tree species include the Murray Pine, used extensively for rural constructions, Belah and Box.
The native peach, or Quangdong, is prolific in the north western section, and scattered throughout the Shire. This small tree is known in some Aboriginal dialects as Curlwaa, thus naming New South Wales' first irrigation area.
There are some rare occurrences of plants, including that of the spotted fuschia near Tuckers Creek.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service manage areas of environmental significance incorporating areas of unique or typical vegetation such as:
Mallee Cliffs National Park
Lake Nearie Reserve
There is a wide variety of native fauna within the Shire, the most noticeable being the kangaroo, wallaby, emu, parrot and cockatoo as well as a number of reptiles. The smaller marsupials are less evident and threatened by the presence of introduced species and loss of habitat through agricultural expansion.
Sheep are the most common domestic animal within the Shire, however, their numbers today are far less than in the early days of pastoral domination. The rabbit is prolific and responsible for massive loss of vegetation and land degradation in the late nineteenth and mid twentieth centuries. Feral cats, introduced in the 1890's to cull the rabbit population, have drastically reduced the extent of small native fauna. Wild goats have multiplied as a result of improved pastures and water supply and owe their existence to early settlers in the townships of Wentworth and Gol Gol who held goats on the adjacent commons.
The landscape of the Wentworth shire is controlled by the extremes of climate experienced in the locality. In particular the hot dry summers and low rainfall contribute to the parched and sparsely vegetated appearance of most of the Shire. Droughts have played a significant role in the lives of the shire's residents. On many occasions drought has been responsible for heartbreaking loss of stock and agricultural productivity. One of the most significant droughts occurred in 1890. Many landholders have experience extreme hardships as a result of large and recurring dry spells.
In contrast to the damage of drought is the damage from the floodwaters of the Murray and Darling rivers. There have been two great floods recorded in the Shire since white settlement. The first occurred in 1870, and the most recent in 1956. The latter has been responsible for defining the boundaries of the 1 in 100 year flood levels. Flood waters converging upon the Shire remain spread out over the flat landscape for many months. The swollen waterways provided many incidents of isolation and property damage as well as loss of life. As a result of the severity of the 1956 flooding, high levee banks were erected around the Wentworth township and within the nearby irrigation areas.
Bushfires are common in the outback, particularly so since human settlement. During the summer or 1974 to 1975 the Shire experienced its worst out-break of fires. A State of Emergency was declared in December of that year with a fire causing a burnt out area of some 24,000 hectares within Balranald and Wentworth Shires.
There are only five townships within the Shire, the largest being Wentworth with a population of some 1,400 persons. The expansion of townships has been largely limited by the growth of nearby Mildura. Three of the townships are located on the Murray River between Mildura and Wentworth, and only one settlement is located on the Darling. Some smaller irrigation settlements are scattered along the rivers.
All the townships are characterised by low density housing, predominantly timber structures, grid pattern layout (excluding Dareton) and a small linear commercial focus. The prominent visual features include water towers, telecommunication towers and in the case of Wentworth a church steeple.
Since the earliest days of municipal administration in Wentworth, the town was complimented on its neat and modern appearance which included kerb and guttering, wide well maintained streets and attractive street planting. Shade trees were considered vital in an area that experienced hot, dry summers. The Wentworth Municipal Council minutes of August 1896 record a motion offering a reward to anyone giving information that would lead to the conviction of persons found injuring or destroying trees planted in the street. Such early street planting usually included Eucalypt, Kurrajong, and Peppercorn trees. Some of these remain today but many have given way to road improvements. More recent council planting has been dominated by Eucalypts. The Jacaranda tree is prominent in all townships and provide an attractive mauve hue to the settlements throughout November.
The dominant agricultural activity within the Shire is sheep grazing, while wheat farming is conducted to a much smaller extent. Additionally, horticulture, conducted within the irrigation areas is the Shire's most valuable industry. These activities have resulted in distinctive landscape modifications throughout the Shire.
Within the pastoral districts farm dwellings and woolsheds are present along the length of the rivers. Large areas of land have been cleared for grazing or planting of cereal crops. Wire fencing traverses thousands of kilometres, replacing the shepherds used in the mid 1800's. The introduction of new animals and removal of vegetation has caused large areas of destructive erosion, visible as gullies and dustpans.
The irrigation areas, made viable by management of the river through the construction of locks and weirs, is characterised by intricate channel systems and numerous, orderly orchards and vine plantations, providing an attractive patchwork effect. The unnaturally green and lush landscape is in stark contrast to the dust blown plains and grey foliage of the pastoral areas. Small vernacular timber dwellings are dotted amongst the orchards, their presence often only identified by a tall palm tree, typical within gardens planted early this century.
The Wentworth Shire has played host to a variety of significant people and their associated occupations. The Aborigines were the first human inhabitants in the area. As previously mentioned, some of the earliest recorded evidence of Aboriginal occupation of Australia is found in the Shire. The local tribes included the Maraura of the Darling River, the Barindji to the east, the Kureinji along the mid Murray, and the Danggali in the north west of the Shire.
Settlement of the Shire by Europeans resulted in a decimation of the Aboriginal populations by introduced diseases such as influenza and smallpox. Additionally, tribal countries were claimed by pastoralists and native habitats destroyed by clearing and the introduction of exotic animals.
Tensions and misunderstandings between white and black man resulted in many murders, the Rufus Creek Massacre being the most notorious. The Aboriginal peoples were forced to live in camps on the stations, relying on food traded for stockman services. As the tribal populations diminished, so did the size of stations and many could not support their Aboriginal communities. As a result missions were set up and many families displaced to other areas, often separated.
Notable missions at Yelta, across the Murray River, and at Pooncarie no longer exist. Today the Aboriginal population mostly reside at Dareton and include members of communities from outside the district.
Their are many items of heritage significance within the Shire relating to the aboriginal people. These are dealt with in Appendix 3. Access to land and important sites is often difficult. Some sites are registered with the National Parks and wildlife Service, however, the location of many sites is unknown and can only be predicted according to typical land forms and known customs.
Explorers, Pastoralists and Early Settlers
The first known white person to enter the Shire was Captain Charles Sturt in 1829, on a government conceived expedition to trace the Murrumbidgee River. He discovered the Darling/Murray junction in 1830. Further exploration into the area was undertaken again by Sturt and also Major Thomas Mitchell and Edward John Eyre. Sturt is immortalised in the area by the namesake Sturt Highway, linking Mildura with Balranald. Additionally street names in Wentworth and Dareton bear testimony to the explorers.
At the same time of exploration in the area, pastoralists and overlanders were enthusiastically searching for new grazing lands and suitable routes to drove sheep and cattle into South Australia. John Hawdon and Charles Bonney followed Sturt's route along the Murray River. They found that the Murray/Darling junction provided an ideal campsite and ford.
The reliable water source encouraged pastoralists to expand their runs into the district. Notable pioneers include George Melrose, Charles Wreford, Charles Baritt, the Pyle Brothers, Arthur Crozier, DH Cudmore and WB Chaffey.
Prominent figures in the townships were usually the inn keeper, store owners, coachmen or river boat owners. Additionally, the administrative figures such as the Commissioner of Lands, Stock Inspector, Magistrate and Mayor held significant status. Many of these people were responsible for initiating and recording development within the Shire. The likes of William Gunn, Jo Edwards, John Egge, William Bowring, and Captains Cadell and Randall are recognised as important commercial pioneers in Wentworth.
Stockmen, Shearers, Woodcutters and Itinerants
Many stockmen and tradesmen were employed on the large pastoral stations to manage the huge stock holdings spread out over great distances. Seasonal employees would flock to the area during shearing time, boosting the economy of the townships, particularly the hotels. The river ports attracted a variety of people, many in search of employment from the Victorian goldfields, and later as a result of depressions. Some wandered through the countryside as swagmen. The most notable in the district was "Possum", a retrenched shearer, who wandered the Darling and Murray waterways in isolation for over fifty years. He ate food caught in the bush and had a number of makeshift campsites throughout the Shire.
The banks of the Darling and Murray Rivers were scattered with woodcutters' camp sites. The woodcutter was vital to the operation of river steamers, providing numerous timber stocks to fuel the vessels as they travelled the Rivers. The wood-piles were set in locations suitable for loading on to the steamers.
Many of the early horticultural allotments were taken up by local townsfolk from Wentworth and Mildura. Once the Curlwaa area was established and the likes of Walter Sage had proven the productivity of the land, people travelled from both Victoria and South Australia to partake in the industry. The irrigation farmers lived in small austere dwellings, devoting as much land as possible to the planting of vines and orchards. Many of the irrigation allotments were granted to returned soldiers.
The first non-British immigrants within the Shire were of Chinese origin. They moved from the Victorian goldfields in search of employment and often set up commercial market gardens along the Murray River. Sometimes they were employed by sheep stations to grow fresh vegetables for the large workforce, or were employed on the river boats as cooks. The most notable person of Chinese origin in the Shire was John Egge who was a prominent wealthy businessman in Wentworth. He owned steamships, a bond store and butchery. He was well respected for his large contribution to local charity.
More recently southern European immigrants have established productive irrigation holdings in the area, particularly in the Gol Gol area.
Monuments and Memorials
There are few monuments and memorials in the Wentworth Shire. Those that exist include war memorials and commemoration of unique people and events in the Shire. The most notable monuments include the following:
War Memorial - located on the corner of Sandwych and Darling Streets, Wentworth. Erected in memory of those who fought and died in the Great War. The attractive statue of a soldier is placed on a tall granite pedestal. The monument is situated on a very prominent corner in the township.
Tractor Monument - located on the corner of Adelaide and Adams Street, Wentworth. The brass sculpture of a Ferguson tractor set on a stone cairn, commemorates the vigorous efforts of Wentworth residents, and the implements they used to construct vital levee banks in battling the rising waters of the 1956 flood.
Hawdon's Ford Cairn - located at the Murray/Darling river junction. The copper embossed plaque depicting the overlanders commemorates the importance of the junction as Sturt's and Hawdon's camp.
"Possum" - located in Fotherby Park, Wentworth. The `larger than life' statue pays tribute to the recluse David Jones, who became a local legendary figure.
Curlwaa Memorial Gates - located at the Curlwaa Memorial Hall, Memorial Road. Wrought iron gates displaying memorial stones are fixed to the hall and commemorate those who died in both world wars.
A number of cemeteries containing the graves of notable people in the Shire are located in the townships and on some of the stations. The headstones in the cemeteries often describe the hardships endured by the Shire's residents and the variety of people and occupations found in the Shire. Many inscriptions deal with the perils of the river and isolation. There are no grand or ostentatious headstones in any of the cemeteries. Most headstones were made in Adelaide and usually in the form of rounded or arched marble slabs. They often display minor decorative masonry such as a floral border. Many graves are bordered with cast iron fences.
The Wentworth cemetery contains memorials to many notable families in the Shire. It is the oldest town cemetery in the Shire. It contains attractive cast iron denomination markers and grave numbers.
Pooncarie cemetery bears testimony to many of the significant pastoralists. Gol Gol exhibits some old graves, but of note are the newer more elaborate memorials to locals of Italian origin or descendancy.
Cemeteries of note are locate at:
Mount Dispersion Station
Lake Victoria Station
"Possums" Grave - Wangamma Station
Hierarchy and Function
The Wentworth Shire has five towns. They are Wentworth, Pooncarie, Dareton, Gol Gol and Buronga. Wentworth is the largest town, supporting a population of some 1,400 persons. Wentworth was first settled in the 1840's. The town was known as Hawdon's Ford, the Darling Junction and McLeod's Crossing, respectively, during the early years of settlement. A survey plan was submitted of the town in 1858 and the settlement was proclaimed as the town of Wentworth in 1859, the name paying tribute to William Charles Wentworth.
Wentworth flourished as a busy and vital inland port during the river transport era. Today, the township remains as the main service and administration centre in the Shire with role of servicing the pastoral areas to the north and west as well as the nearby irrigation areas. The extent of Wentworth's service function has been severely reduced by the explosive growth of nearby Mildura which has been developed as a major regional centre.
Pooncarie is a small service town located on the lower Darling, midway between Menindee and Wentworth. The village, first named Pooncarie was gazetted in 1863. The town provided a vital depot for supplies and a communication link to the large outback stations and was also an important centre for social gatherings. The town was built at the site of a natural two-tier wharf which could be easily utilised during both high and low rivers. Today, the village function has been significantly reduced as a result of improved transportation methods which provide the rural population with accessibility to larger towns.
Gol Gol was proclaimed as a township in 1866, however, the village allotments were not occupied until the late 1870's. Located on the Murray, opposite Mildura, the town acts as a service centre to the surrounding irrigation area. The town holds historical significance as an important coach stop. A wharf also add vitality to the township. Today, Gol Gol has an expanding residential area and has essentially become a suburb of Mildura.
Buronga, located adjacent to Gol Gol, developed in response to the construction of the Mildura Bridge in 1927. The small township has an industrial and administrative function, the latter achieve by the presence of the offices of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Soil Conservation Service of New south Wales and Western Lands Commission. The town is dominated by the junction of the Sturt and Silver City Highways. The Settlement is effectively an extension of Mildura, and due to its proximity to the regional centre, has potential for rapid expansion.
Dareton was erected as a service centre to the adjacent Coomealla Irrigation area. Dareton, named after a former Commissioner of the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission, was settled in 1924. The town hosts the regional office of the Department of Water Resources and Department of Lands and has a popular recreational function due to the presence of the large Coomealla Services Club. The Dareton Aboriginal settlement at Namatjira Drive, supports a large population of descendants of local tribal communities. It was established in 1968 and is characterised by a number of improvised dwellings.
Small irrigation settlements providing minor services include:
Pomona and Ellerslie on the Darling.
Curlwaa, in the Wentworth (Curlwaa) Irrigation Area.
Williamsville, on the Murray at Abbotsford Bridge.
Trentham Cliffs, Monak and Paringi, along the Murray east of Gol Gol.
Curlwaa is the most significant irrigation settlement. It was established in 1888 and is acclaimed as the first in New South Wales. Scattered commercial and community facilities were erected in the area,, with only a few, such as the Curlwaa Store, remaining functional today.
Moorna and Cal Lal
Two settlements that played important roles in the development of the Shire no longer exist. They are Moorna and Cal Lal, west of Wentworth on the Murray River.
Moorna was the administrative centre of the Shire. The Commissioner of Lands and local police force held office and resided on the property. Wentworth's first postal service and two bush hotels were also established at Moorna. There are no remains of these establishments. The present dwelling was built by William Crozier in 1872. A town site was surveyed at Moorna and it was once intimated that the site should become the Federal Capital of Australia. The proposed town was never established.
Cal Lal, located between Wentworth and the South Australian border, on the Murray River, was an administrative centre serving the Lake Victoria community containing a post office, police station, courthouse, hall and small school. The town's function halted during 1930 to 1940. Today only the courthouse/police station and post office stand.
Layout and Appearance
The townships of Wentworth, Pooncarie and Gol Gol are designed in grid fashion, typical of most country townships designed during the 19th century by the Government surveyor of the time. Each of these townships were located on sites where activity was already present. However, Dareton was a township planned and designed specifically to serve the needs of the new Coomealla irrigation area during the 1920's. Dareton's layout is a variation on the grid theme by including a "central park", around which the main roadway was originally diverted in a diamond fashion.
All the townships, excluding Dareton, are located on the banks of their adjacent river. This locational occurrence is a result of the traditional need to locate adjacent to the water source. Dareton, which is located on high ground above the river, was constructed during an era when water could be pumped to the town site thus affording the ability to reduce flooding hazards by locating away from the river. The township of Wentworth is located around both the Darling and Murray Rivers, however, the earliest settlement within Wentworth was located adjacent to the Darling River where the bridge approach now stands.
All of the townships have a small linear commercial centre. They are as follows:
Darling Street, Wentworth
Tarcoola Street, Pooncarie
Tapio Street, Dareton
Sturt Highway, Buronga and Gol Gol
The commercial focus of Buronga which largely consists of a number of regional government offices, is set off the highway reflecting the modern nature of the township. The main streets of Pooncarie, Wentworth and Gol Gol are located very close to the river which was a necessity for the survival and viability of businesses during the river boat era. Proximity of commercial activities to the wharf was vital. The main streets in Wentworth, Pooncarie and Gol Gol were dominated by the presence of either one or more hotels which were a focus of activity. However, in Dareton, the main street is dominated by the large State Bank.
Wentworth township has important administrative buildings with historical significance including the court-house, post office jail and customs house. Additionally, the township plays host to a number of impressive churches including St John's Anglican Church and St Francis Xavier Catholic Church. The hospital and schools also played an important role in the development of Wentworth, however, their functional significance has been reduced by the expansion of facilities in Mildura.
Pooncarie, a winner of tidy town awards, has an attractive entrance to the township as a result of the presence of well maintained parks adjoining the river.
Two attractive parks have been established in the Wentworth township adjacent to the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers and at the old wharf site.
Most of the dwellings in the Wentworth township were constructed prior to 1920. The dwellings are characteristically rectangular in shape and displaying a wrap-around verandah. These verandahs are often supported by turned or chamfered wooden posts with decorative wooden brackets. Most dwellings have a single front doorway with timber casement displaying the side and top lights, and a single double hung window either side of the doorway, again in a timber casement. The majority of dwellings are weatherboard, however, there are some notable brick dwellings in the township. The bricks were made locally at a works originally located near the junction of the Darling and Murray rivers. Dwellings built prior to 1890 were characterised by gambrel roofs clad with iron sheeting. Dwellings constructed at the turn of the century are characterised by a high gabled roof also clad with iron sheeting. Characteristic and notable dwellings constructed prior to 1900 include the following:
The Lockmasters residence, Cadell Street
Crangs, Cadell Street
Rendelsham (The Nunnery), Cadell Street
Rendelsham House, Sandwych Street
Yampa, Sandwych Street
Customs Officers Residence, Wharf Street
Anglican Rectory, Darling Street
Some of the characteristic and notable dwellings constructed after 1900 include the following:
25 Sandwych Street
29 Sandwych Street
36 Sandwych Street
34 Adelaide Street
From the previous two lists it is clear that both Cadell Street and Sandwych Street are comprised of some of the more notable dwellings in the Wentworth township. It is important that the character of these two streets is retained. As well as these typical dwelling styles there are three unique dwellings within the township. Two dwellings located in Armstrong Street are early federation style dwellings constructed of brick featuring decorative timber fretwork. The third dwelling located on the corner of Darling and Perry Streets is designed with Spanish influence including an archway enclosed brick verandah.
Pooncarie is typified by small corrugated iron clad dwellings, some with pressed metal facades, reflecting the influence of Broken Hill and the lack of local building materials, thus requiring the transportation of such materials by river and road.
Buronga, Gol Gol and Dareton are typified by small timber homes with little or no decoration and more recently new elaborate brick dwellings built as a response to spill over effect of population from Mildura.
During the 1840's land was claimed by squatters for grazing cattle and sheep along the frontage of the Darling, Murray and Lake Victoria. Reliable water sources and flat terrain enticed squatters from the Murrumbidgee district, Victoria and South Australia. The first surveys were conducted in 1847, however, much of the land had already been taken up When the surveys were completed in 1854 the squatters were able to tender for their runs. Additional runs were taken up along the great Anabranch frontage by the mid 1860's. Some of the earliest and largest holdings included:
It was usual to combine several runs into one holding. Station activity was usually focused on the river frontage where the homestead, workers' cottages, stock yards and woolsheds were erected. Some out-stations were built on land held at great distances on the outback runs which provided lush feed during the wet seasons. The outback runs were taken up by an annual licence, each usually averaging 162,500 hectares in area, ample to support at least 4,000 sheep. Lake Victoria, Polia and Moorara Stations combined runs to the total holding of well over half a million hectares, each.
In 1884 a new Land Act enabled the taking up of areas by selectors and security for a definite term for the squatters. Pastoral leases were divided into equal parts being the resumed area and lease hold area. The division of the larger stations resulted in a number of new holdings and a subsequent reduction of the original pastoral dynasties. Unfortunately, the affects of overstocking, major land clearing, rabbit plague and drought were dismal and many selectors found their resumed holdings far too small to be viable. Land division resulted in properties which remain today, including:
Pastoral holdings within the Shire have typically endured severe hardships caused by drought, rabbits, flood and zealous land clearing. In 1900 all pastoral leases in the Shire expired and the Western Lands Act support by the Pastures Protection Act were passed to administer all land matters and control stock numbers and movements, in an attempt to restore the denuded landscape.
Homesteads and Buildings
The main homesteads were always constructed along the river frontages to take advantage of the much needed reliable water source, proximity to the river boats for wool collection and trade homesteads were constructed of hand adzed Murray pine slabs erected over a packed earth floor. They were usually only one or two rooms in size and divided and lined internally with hessian. There are few slab dwellings remaining along the river front today. Windamingle, on the Anabranch, is a fine example of a slab dwelling although it is quite elegant and differs from the earlier austere dwellings. Some homesteads have incorporated the original sections including:
Many of the original slab dwellings were removed by flood waters in either 1870 or 1956. Rather than adding onto the old dwelling in most cases a new dwelling was established. Timber is the predominant building material on the pastoral holdings. However, is some cases stone quarried on the site has been utilised. In such cases the result has been impressive and reinforces the strength and dominance of the pastoral industry. Such homesteads include the following:
Lake Victoria Homestead
The rural homesteads and adjacent workers cottages acted as small townships due to the large populations that resided on the properties. Many stations had stores which were supplied by river boats.
The woolshed was one of the most important structures on the property and was always located along the river bank so that the wool bales could be easily pushed down to the waiting barges which carried them to their ports. In addition, wool scouring was often conducted in the river prior to baling. Most of the wool sheds were constructed with pine slab or corrugated iron sheeting. Located adjacent to the wool sheds were shearers' quarters, often constructed of similar materials and usually containing a large kitchen containing a baker's oven.
As the importance of river travel declined after the 1920's many of the stations moved their focus of activity to the outback holdings were most of the stock were located. Therefore, today, it is difficult to find many home sites and associated dwellings in their original form. Para homestead and wool shed are one of the original structures still remaining on the river. Stations such as Lake Victoria moved most of their activity north to Nulla Nulla and incorporated old dwellings and building materials into new dwellings and farm structures.
In the late 1880's irrigation schemes were underway in Renmark in South Australia and approval was given to the Chaffey Brothers to establish an irrigation area at Mildura. An active local movement for irrigation around Wentworth resulted in the decision to allocate land east of Wentworth, utilised as temporary commons, for the purpose of irrigation, resulting in the establishment of the Wentworth Irrigation Trust in 1890. Between 1896 and 1900 the first channel of the Wentworth irrigation area was built along the west bank of Horseshoe Billabong. Subsequently, the first irrigation sections in New South Wales were open for settlement.
In 1908, land was set aside along the Darling River and made available to a private company which established pumps. This site was known as Pomona and in 1931 it was brought under the control of an elected trust with a government appointee as a chairman. During the 1920's, the large Coomealla irrigation area was established east of the Wentworth Irrigation Area.
Many of the larger stations carried out their own small irrigation schemes in an attempt to improve the productivity and self sufficiency of the holdings. A notable effort was that undertaken by Chaffey on his property Bunnerungie, situated on the Anabranch. Chaffey built a water pipe which extended nine miles west from a well located at the homestead. The pipe was constructed from Kauai pine, wrapped with wire. The scheme failed miserably as the pipe was unable to retain the water. To this day many a fence in the district has been repaired with the wire that surrounded the wooden pipe conduct.
The horticultural industry is the most valuable within the Shire. The majority of irrigated holdings are planted with citrus orchards and grape vines.
Dwellings and Associated Buildings
Dwellings in the irrigation areas are characteristically small. Most dwellings are clad with weatherboard or in some cases corrugated iron sheeting. The square dwelling of one or two rooms is usually enlarged with a lean-to area at the rear providing kitchen and laundry space. A front porch/verandah supported by plain wooden posts provided shade and in some cases were built in to provide additional living space. Whilst these are the typical dwellings located in the irrigation settlements, there are scattered large dwellings, particularly in the Curlwaa irrigation area. These dwellings are usually characterised by large wrap around verandahs often supported with chamfered timber posts and adorned with ornate verandah brackets. These larger dwellings reflect the earlier wealthy interests in horticulture prior to 1910. However, the majority of dwellings were built during the years of the great war and depression which are reflected in the austerity of their style.
Other structures typically found within the irrigation areas included sulphur sheds. These sheds, were used for the drying of fruit by a process which involved the burning of sulphur. Drying racks were wheeled into the shed via small railway tracks. The sheds were typically built with timber posts and clad with corrugated iron sheeting. They were rectangular in shape with a high pitched roof and top ridge opening for the purposes of ventilation. Other structures included packing sheds which are scattered throughout the irrigation areas. However, most of the packing is now undertaken in the large co-operative stores.
Wentworth, Darling Street
Darling Street is the commercial focus of the Wentworth Shire. Additional commercial activity is present in Sandwych and Adams Streets. Historically, the earliest commercial activities were located in the vicinity of the wharf adjacent to the Darling River. There are no commercial stores or warehouses remaining around the wharf site today.
Most of the commercial premises are situated on Darling Street, between Wharf and Sandwych Streets. At the height of commercial activities in the late nineteenth century, the street was identified by a continuous series of brick buildings, mostly single storey, which displayed squared and gabled parapets and large awnings extending over the footpaths, supported by timber posts. Bowrings Store (now Wheeldon's Hardware) provided a unique addition with its elaborate curved and adorned parapet. The facade has been altered considerably and now displays a plain parapet. The continuity of the streetscape has been broken by the addition of aluminium fascias, the removal of awnings and posts, and the use of unsympathetic signage and advertising.
The hotels were important commercial sites, historically providing the services of store, post office, meeting hall and church. The first Inn was built at Wentworth on the site of the existing Wentworth Hotel. The now demolished Crown Hotel, located on the south west corner of Darling and Sandwych Streets, was the most ornate structure in the Shire. The two storey brick hotel was surrounded by a verandah and balcony, elaborately adorned with cast iron balustrading and frieze. The new single storey Crown Hotel has attempted to imitate some of the decorative elements of the old.
The commercial activities in the other townships are minor compared to those in Wentworth. Pooncarie has only had two stores operating at any one time. Additionally, the Telegraph Hotel and the previous Pooncarie Hotel acted as stores in the absence of other commercial premises.
Gol Gol's first store was erected in 1880 by William Bradshaw. The Gol Gol Inn provided the focus of activity for many years, attracting patrons from Mildura and providing an important stage coach exchange. The original slab dwelling has been altered progressively and today bears no resemblance to its original form. The commercial function of Gol Gol has been superseded by Mildura.
Dareton's commercial focus is Tapio Street and consists of a number of small shops and agencies mostly with brick and aluminium fascias and awnings. The dominant feature is the large and impressive State Bank building, constructed in 1927. The State Bank (formerly the Rural Bank) played a vital role in the development of the Coomealla Irrigation area.
The Coach Stops
A number of hotels existed along the length of the Darling River, acting as coach stops for the regular stages travelling through to Victoria and South Australia from Sydney and northern townships. The hotels were located every twelve miles and enabled horse changes, comfort stops and accommodation. Hotels were also established on the Murray, Anabranch and Lake Victoria. None of these hotels remain today.
The dominant trading activities were carried out by the river boats between 1853 and 1920's. The large steamers provided supplies to commercial outlets and in bulk to the large stations on the river frontages. River hawkers were prolific, providing a large variety of goods and services including speciality services such as watchmaking and shoe repairs. There are few remains of the important commercial functions of the river boats in the Shire. The major bond stores and warehouses that were erected adjacent to Wentworth wharf have been removed or remodelled. The customs officers' residence is the only related structure existing today.
The Station Stores
Many of the large stations had their own stores, supplied in bulk by the river steamers. Station hands, adjacent land holders and Aborigines would purchase goods from the stores and place orders to be filled by the next steamer. Evidence of these stores still remain on the following stations:
The settlement of the Wentworth Shire was largely enabled by the utilisation of the Murray and Darling rivers as major arterial routes. In 1853 Captains Cadell and Randall raced the first paddle steamers up the Murray River. The impetus was a large financial bonus offered by the South Australian Government for navigating the waterways.
Navigation of the Murray enabled extensive trade between the colonies. The establishment of customs houses on the river enabled the reaping of duties from the prolific trade. The Darling was first navigated in 1859, although it remained an unreliable water course.
River navigation enable expansion of the pastoral industry into the western division. Vital access to ports and markets could be easily achieved. Additionally, supplies and building materials could be easily obtained. The large pastoral homesteads located along both rivers are testimony to the important relationship between the squatters and river steamers.
Wentworth, located at the junction of the two river routes owes its early vitality to the steamers. As previously mentioned, there are few remains of the important era within the township. The wharf, bond stores, warehouses and lift span bridge have all been removed or altered.
The coaches were a vital communication and transport medium within the Shire. Several lines operated in the Shire including Cobb & Co, Burton Bros, Charters Bros, Kidman Nichols, McMahon and John Hill & Co. The regular coach services to Balranald, Swan Hill, Echuca, Wilcannia, Blanchetown and Mannum connected to Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide routes. The coach services were carriers of the Royal Mail. During the dry months they compensated for the loss of navigable waterways by placing extra services for passengers.
The large commons and Police Paddocks adjacent to the townships often held coach horses. Many hotels were established along the Murray, providing horse change, comfort and accommodation facilities. Gol Gol Inn was an important change and some 200 horses could be found in the common.
The Loggy Bridge Road just west of Wentworth is one of the original overland and coach routes to Adelaide. There are no other physical remains of the coach era within the Shire.
Bullocks, Donkey and Camel
The transport of wool clips to the nearest wharf or barge stop was often performed by the use of bullock teams, donkey teams or camel trains. Afghans were sometimes employed to guide the camels on their journey.
Punts and Bridges
River crossings were important to enable travel within the Shire. Punts were initially used at Wentworth (on the Darling), Abbot's Ford, Gol Gol and Pooncarie. Small row boats were used over Tuckers Creek to reach the Wentworth Hospital. Stations that comprised land on both sides of the Darling River and Anabranch often left row boats on the river banks. Private punts were sometimes operated on these holdings.
The first bridge built was over the Darling at Wentworth. The lift span bridge enable steamers to travel the length of river without man-made obstacles. Similar bridges were constructed at Abbot's Ford and Buronga. The Abbotsford Bridge is the only remaining lift span structure in the Shire. The Pooncarie Bridge over the Darling was constructed more recently in 1962.
The Anabranch is crossed by built up fords and small timber bridges. A larger timber bridge is located on the Renmark Road. An early make-shift bridge which enable stock and cart crossings is still visible at Bunnerungie Station.
The Murray River was locked by 1929. The lock and weir schemes enabled regular control of the river and much more reliable river navigation. Lock No. 10 is located at Wentworth with an adjacent dwelling acting as the Lockmaster's residence. Locks 11, 9 and 8 are also within the Shire.
The original overland route connecting the Riverina with Adelaide, passed through Wentworth which was originally a major campsite on the route. The northern route between Wentworth and Menindee, via Pooncarie was an important coach route. Many of the Shire's roads were established as mail run routes.
The first postal service in the Shire was based at Moorna Station. When it moved to Wentworth it was operated from a shed in Darling Street. The existing Wentworth Post Office is one of the more impressive structures in the townships.
In other centres, the hotels often acted as important mail changes. Sometimes services were undertaken in private homes prior to a post office being constructed. The Curlwaa Cash Store also acted as a post office.
The post office at Pooncarie held the important role of displaying the river height of the day. Post offices were also the base for telecommunications in the Shire. Pooncarie and Wentworth post offices were both telephone exchanges prior to automation (which in the case of Pooncarie has only recently been completed).
The mail routes were important links to the large stations. The mail was delivered by horseback for large distances prior to the introduction of motor vehicles.
The Shire has historically been exposed to a variety of local newspapers including the Federal standard, the Wentworth Evening News and the Wentworth Telegraph. World news was received via Grebbles Telegram Co.
Education facilities in the Shire were established from as early as the 1860's as a result of strong commitment by the local community, who provided funds, land, buildings and equipment to enable schools to successfully operate. Early school buildings usually consisted of a single crude timber hut providing little comfort or room. Gol Gol school has erected a replica of a school house constructed in 1908 which demonstrates the austerity of the buildings. Retaining teachers in the isolated Shire area was often difficult and schools encountered a continuous stream of new teachers. Fluctuating enrolments were experienced during the 1890's as a result of drought and depression. Floods and disease epidemics often caused closure of schools for month at a time.
The first national school opened in Wentworth in 1860. The present brick building (southern end) was build in 1869 and altered over the years. Gol Gol's first school was erected in 1882 (the present school commenced in 1911). The provisional school at Pooncarie commenced in 1887, whilst the present site was occupied from 1900.
Some small private boarding schools operated in Wentworth from the 1860's. In 1892 the Sisters of Mercy opened a select day high school and primary school in two buildings (Cadell Street). A third dwelling was utilised as a boarding school. These cease operation in 1925 and a new brick school was built. The original one room St Ignatius High School has been recently restored by the local branch of the National Trust.
Distance from townships caused difficulties in educating rural children. Many stations operated subsidised or private schools. These have been replaced by correspondence and school of the air facilities. Two remaining school houses, a slab hut at Lethero and a corrugated iron shed at Heatherbloom, typify the early school buildings of the outback.
The first medical services in the Shire were administered by the retired Dr Fletcher, owner of Tapio Station. Dr Renner arrived in Wentworth township in 1855 and set up a small hospital. Some private homes were used as hospitals until 1889 when the Wentworth Hospital was built across the Darling river, at Wentworth. The attractive brick building was demolished in 1946 to make way for the present small hospital.
Pooncarie established a branch of the Bush Nurses Association in 1926. Prior to that, ill residents of the northern area travelled to Wentworth. Today, Pooncarie is included in the Royal Flying Doctor Service clinic run.
The local law enforcement bodies were originally located at Moorna, where some twenty mounted troops were stationed. During the 1850's, Major Lockyer had a one-roomed police hut in Wentworth. A slab lock-up was located at the southern end of Darling Street which was overcrowded and poorly maintained. The impressive Wentworth Gaol was built in 1879-1881. Constructed of locally made red bricks and imported bluestone, the facility acts as an important tourist drawcard to the Shire today. The Gaol closed in 1927.
The Wentworth Courthouse, constructed in 1863 remains in operation and is an important heritage item within the township. A court of petty sessions was held in Pooncarie from 1869 at the local pub. A small courthouse and lock-up was constructed in 1875, and replaced by the existing building in 1905.
The paddocks, essential to graze the mounted police horses, were located on the outskirts of the town. The 40 hectare block at Pooncarie, adjacent to the River is still known as the Police Paddock.
The police established small lock-ups which were often located on larger stations or outback routes to hold offenders waiting for more suitable transport to the courthouses. The remains of one such lock-up cell is located at Kulkurna woolshed, on the Murray.
A police station/courthouse was established at Cal Lal to service the western corner of the Shire. However, it ceased operation in the 1940's. The building still stands.
The first ministers in the area were established at Yelta Aboriginal mission, across the Murray. The clergy would sometimes travel the district to provide services. The first church was erected in Wentworth in 1871. St John's Anglican Church is one of the most notable structures in the district. Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian churches followed soon after. The first brick building in Wentworth was the Presbyterian Manse, erected in 1859, but later destroyed by fire. All the church buildings in Wentworth are brick. The school, courthouse and hotels provided facilities for services in the period when churches were not available.
The Wentworth clergy made regular trips to the Murray, Darling and Anabranch properties by bicycle or buggy to provide services including baptisms and weddings.
More recently some small churches have been erected at Curlwaa, Dareton and Buronga, most of which are timber clad. Unusually, there are no churches at Pooncarie. The town survey marked sites for religious uses, however they were never constructed.
Water supplies were usually only available direct from the river, rainwater tanks and wells. The water tower at Wentworth was constructed in 1888. Most other townships were not provided with water supply schemes until the 1960's.
Electricity reached Wentworth in 1933, Gol Gol in 1944 and another 30 years until it was made available in Pooncarie in 1974. The steam operated water pumps utilised prior to electricity were vital to the success of the irrigation industry.
Various halls distributed throughout the Shire provided important venues for social activities, which included dances, travelling picture shows, plays, musicals, and local celebrations. These activities were often combined with other popular local events such as sporting days, horse races or agricultural shows. One of the largest halls was the Mechanics Institute in Wentworth, later used and remodelled by the Municipal Council as the Town Hall. Halls are located in Dareton, Gol Gol, Pooncarie and Curlwaa. Two significant halls located in the rural areas are the Anabranch
Hall and Lethero Hall. These halls have played an important role in establishing communication links and combating isolation in the pastoral areas.
Sporting events including tennis, cricket and football were, and continue to be, popular in the Shire. Many grounds and facilities are distributed throughout the Shire. Sporting fixtures were usually identified by the presence of a bough shed used or shade. Other sporting activities included rowing, gymkhanas and clay shooting.
Horse racing had a avid following in the Shire. Many pastoralists were keen thoroughbred owners and breeders. Popular races in Wentworth used the main street as a track and the Crown Hotel balcony as a grandstand. Wentworth race meetings were conducted on the clay flats of the billabong to the north of the township. The racecourse was moved to the eastern side of the Darling in 1880. Pooncarie residents established a race course in the 1890's, the present track being utilised from 1920. Some race and steeplechase tracks were occasionally established on properties along the Darling and used intermittently.
The first agricultural show was conducted in Wentworth in 1885. The site of the present showgrounds was gazetted in 1899. The show was one of the most important social events of the year.
The formation of progress associations, farming associations and development groups such as the Curlwaa Fruitgrowers Association have played a vital role in the development of the Shire and particularly the horticultural area. Clubs and affiliations such as the Returned Servicemen's League have had similar influence in the development of the Shire, the latter responsible for one of the most popular attractions, the Coomealla Services Club.
Much of the heritage of the Wentworth Shire has been removed or altered as a result of development pressures, land management practices and neglect. Those places and items of heritage significance or noteworthiness remaining in the Shire have been detailed in the Appendices.
The Shire's natural heritage has been altered substantially as a result of farming practice. Significant areas have been set aside to be protected by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Western Lands Commission. Further to this, significant places are to be incorporated in the Shire Wide Local Environmental Plan as being Environmentally Sensitive, and appropriate clauses included to warrant their conservation.
The Aboriginal heritage is controlled by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. There are extensive and significant sites throughout the Shire, many of which are presently under threat by farming practices and Riverine development pressures. There is a general lack of communitive recognition as to the heritage
significance of Aboriginal sites and relics which further threatens their destruction or alteration. Appendix 2 and 3 highlight the importance of the Aboriginal heritage of the Shire and details likely locations of sites in areas subject to development pressures.
The European heritage is largely dominated by items relating to the pastoral era. These items are therefore subject to alterations resulting from technological changes, weathering and neglect. It is difficult to ensure the conservation of such items due to their isolation, however recent community awareness and local interest in the history of the Shire has improved the likely retention and/or enhancement of such items. Such community interest has encouraged the retention and enhancement of items in townships, particularly those threatened by new developments, such as the Wentworth Services Club extensions.