The town of windmills, Gilgandra is a farming community built on the banks of the Castlereagh River. Located at the junction of the Newell, Oxley and Castlereagh Highways, Gilgandra is approximately halfway between Brisbane and Melbourne.
The name is Aboriginal for long water hole, and Gilgandra was traditionally a meeting place between the Wiradjuri, Kamilaroi and Wailwan nations. Historically, it is also known for the famous Coo-ee March of 1915 when men from the Central West formed to volunteer their services in World War I. Swelling from 35 to 263 marchers, it became known as the most successful recruitment campaign of its kind.
The region covers a geographic area of 4800km and the population of Gilgandra Shire is 4200, with 3129 living in Gilgandra township. Other villages are Tooraweenah located at the southern entrance to the Warrumbungle National Park and Armatree in the north of the Shire.
Gilgandra is just 65km north of Dubbo, with Sydney a distance of 450km.
A coach service is available from Gilgandra daily, with travel to and from Dubbo, Lightning Ridge, Walgett and Coonamble.
Gilgandra’s aerodrome is available for chartered flights and regular commercial travel can be made from Dubbo to Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle, Melbourne and Broken Hill. The XPT train service also links passengers to Sydney from Dubbo.
Climate: Winter 16 degrees, Summer 33 degrees
Gilgandra is a friendly community with a great sense of civic pride. Residents enjoy a relaxed country lifestyle with the advantage of a nearby major regional centre. There are numerous sporting clubs and social groups, along with race meetings, concerts, market days, library activities and art exhibitions that contribute to making Gilgandra and district a progressive and proactive community.
Gilgandra has a diverse array of housing options, ranging from convenient rental apartments to spacious family homes. The average price for a three-bedroom house in Gilgandra is $210,000 while rental properties average $210 per week.
Cooee Lodge Retirement Village has independent living villa units at reasonable rates and vacant land ranges from residential blocks to rural acreage.
The Gilgandra Industrial Park also has fully serviced blocks with heavy vehicle access.
The Gilgandra district’s main industries are agriculture, health and aged care, tourism, hospitality and retail.
The largest industry sector is agriculture, employing approximately 500 people, and comprising sheep, cattle and cropping.
Health, disability, aged care, education and other social services have become large employers in the community and form an important part of the economy.
Gilgandra has a wide range of educational services and facilities starting from early childhood through to adult tertiary education. These include Gilgandra Preschool, Premier Early Learning Centre, Castlereagh Family Daycare, St Joseph’s School, Gilgandra Public School, Tooraweenah Public School, Gilgandra High School and TAFE Western.
Gilgandra has a strong retail and business service sector which includes three banks, two legal firms, an accountant and other financial services. Gilgandra also has excellent health care with three GP clinics, a multi-purpose health service, two dental practices and other allied health care services.
There is something for everyone in Gilgandra, with the two-day Gilgandra Cup Carnival and Australia Day celebrations beginning the year. At Easter, there is a rodeo and tractor pull event, followed by the Tooraweena Endurance Ride in April, Gilgandra Show in May and the Champion Dog Show in July. October is a busy month, with the speedway season kicking off along with the Coo-ee Festival and Presbyterian Flower Show. In November, there’s the Windmill Basketball and December brings the Christmas Fete.
There were once windmills spread across Gilgandra’s skyline; by the 1950s there were more than 300 windmills pumping water. With the shift to a reticulated water system in 1966, the need for windmills declined. However, there are still a few non-functioning windmills dotted across the local landscape which visitors can see on the picturesque Windmill Walk meandering along the banks of the Castlereagh River. Here you will see one of the largest Southern Cross Windmills in the Southern Hemisphere.
Experience Gilgandra’s pioneering history at the Rural Museum which houses an extensive collection of early agricultural equipment. For a further taste of history, check out the Coo-ee March Memorial near the Coo-ee Heritage Visitor Centre. Grandma’s Dolls also features collectable dolls from the 1940s to present day.
If nature is your thing, Gilgandra Native Flora Reserve is 8.5 hectares of lovely bushland featuring many plant species, particularly local wildflowers, with plants flowering from late August to November. Orana Cactusworld also has some 800-900 different cacti from all over the world. The collection has been gathered over 40 years.