Located along the banks of the Tweed River, at
the foothills of the McPherson Ranges, is the township of
Murwillumbah. Only 13 km south of the Queensland border and about
850 km north-east of Sydney, Murwillumbah provides services for the
surrounding farmlands, whose major industry include sugarcane,
cattle, dairy and bananas. During certain times of the year, both
sides of the road form a wall of sugarcane.
of Aboriginal origin (the original inhabitants
were the Bundjalung Aborigines). One of
Tweeds early settlers, Joshua Bray (the
future police magistrate) laid claim to the naming of the
place in a paper he wrote in 1902. It is also said that the NSW
Government had asked a Jonathan Harris to suggest a name for the
town back in 1873 and is reportedly in family records that Jonathan
had named the town. There are several translations for Murwillumbah,
the most common one being either Place of
Many Possums or Home
of Many Possums. The term expressing
the abundance of food and the good things of life.
John Oxley, who named the Tweed River in 1823,
was the first white person to the area, followed five years later by
Captain Henry Rous who having followed the river from its mouth,
named the river Clarence, unaware that Oxley had preceded. The name
Clarence was later given to a river further south.
Timber-cutters worked the hinterland rainforest in
the 1840s, although the region did not yield as rich a source as the
Richmond and Tweed Valleys. Ships were to appear around 1868, with
sugarcane grown in the valley region in 1869.
The town site was surveyed in 1872, with the
post office transferred here from Kynnumboon in 1877. In 1878, the
school was also transferred here from Tumbulgum. Soon there was a
courthouse, a bank (1880), a sugar mill (1880) and a ferry service,
replacing the punt in 1888. It wasnt until 1894 that the railway
arrived from Lismore via Mullumbimby, making Murwillumbah the
terminus of the North Coast Line. This became the impetus for
Murwillumbah to grow further, with the a lift-span bridge being
built over the Tweed River in 1901. The settlement was declared a
municipality in 1902.