History of Gunnedah


Rotary Club of Gunnedah West acknowledges the Kamilaroi Aboriginal Nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work, and in doing so, we pay our respect to all Elders past and present as well as to the young Indigenous leaders of tomorrow.


Gunnedah is 456km North West of Sydney and 264m above sea level. The population of the town and district is 15,000. Local Government: Shire of Gunnedah; Federal Electorate of Parkes - Member: Mark Coulton, National Party; State Electorate of Tamworth - Member: Kevin Anderson, National Party.


The first European explorer to view the district was John Oxley in 1818 who traveled from west to east passing through the site of Curlewis. Next was Allan Cunningham in 1825 who explored from Pandoras Pass to Mt Binalong (south of Boggabri). In 1827, Cunningham again traveled the district passing to the east of Gunnedah on his way north from the Hunter Valley to the Darling Downs. He crossed the Namoi river at Gunnembene. On his return journey he passed to the west of Gunnedah and camped at Curlewis. Thomas Mitchell followed in 1831 on his search for the ’Kindur’, reaching the Peel river where Oxley had crossed it in 1818, and then followed the Peel down to the junction with the Namoi. He crossed the Namoi at Gunnembene and traveled north via Kelvin returning on the same route. The next explorer of note was Charles Coxen in 1834 who collected animal and plant specimens along the Namoi for his brother-in-law, John Gould (naturalist). The famous scientist and explorer, Ludwig Leichhardt, traveled through Breeza, Carroll and Keepit on his way from the Hunter Valley to Moreton Bay in 1843.


The first European settlers arrived soon after the explorers. No records are available as to the exact year, but it is known that one, John Johnston, established a slab hut near the junction of the Namoi and Mooki rivers in about 1833. His woolshed and stockyards were established close to the river and the place became known as “The Woolshed” for many years. The name “Gunnedah” appeared on official property licences in 1848 and the town was gazetted on 26 November 1856 with the Council being elected on Monday 16 November 1885. Gunnedah means ‘place of white stones’ in the local Gamilaraay language.