| Find Ungarie
The earliest European expedition to reach the current-day Ungarie area was that of NSW surveyor-general John Oxley and party, who passed through the area in 1817. His reports on the land south-west of Lake Cowal were unfavourable to say the least and he stated that ‘this country will never be inhabited by civilized man’.
Despite this assessment white settlement of the area did, however, begin to take place and land was subsequently taken up around places such as Bathurst and Young. Then, in 1852, John Regan and his brother led an expedition from their property near West Wyalong to find more suitable grazing land. Heading west with a man called Wood they came across, and named, Humbug Creek. Wood liked the land he saw and established the ‘Merrengren’ (‘Merringreen’) run, first occupied in 1853, over 42, 220 acres. Others soon followed Wood into the area.
The town of Ungarie developed on Roger Feehilly’s expansive ‘Ungarie’ or ‘Ungaree’ pastoral station, which he took up in 1866. The station was named from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘thigh’.
The beginnings of the town can be traced back to 1871, when the residents of ‘Wollongough’ successfully petitioned for the establishment of a post office. Previously the nearest post office was located 40 miles away at Marsden.
On 1 January 1872 the Wollongough post office was officially opened and a small village soon developed. Due to confusion with Wollongong it was suggested, in 1889, that the town’s name be changed. The names suggested included ‘Euglo’, ‘Euglo Creek’, ‘Humbug’ or ‘Humbug Creek’. It was the postmaster’s suggestion to name the post office after the station on which it was built, however, that was eventually accepted and in December 1889 the post office was officially renamed ‘Ungarie’.
A provincial school opened at Ungarie in 1891, with an enrolment of 17 students. By 1892 the Ungarie settlement also contained the post office, a hotel, a blacksmith’s, a butcher’s, two general stores and a boarding house. On 31 March 1894 Ungarie was officially gazetted as a village.
Church services were conducted for the residents of Ungarie long before the various denominational congregations had built churches in the town. Lutheran services were reported to be conducted in the district from the 1890s but the new church – ‘The Evangelist Lutheran St. Pauls Congregation of Ungarie’ – was not dedicated until August 1930. The Church of England was not completed until 1924, the Presbyterian Church opened in 1925, and the first service in the Methodist Church took place in 1933. The Catholic Church was originally constructed on a different site from which it now stands, but was moved to its current site in 1928 with the assistance of a team of horses.
Construction of a railway line running through Ungarie between West Wyalong and Lake Cargelligo began in 1913 and on 13 November 1917 the line was opened to railway traffic. The Ungarie railway station was located around half a mile from the original townsite and to accommodate this, the town boundaries were extended to allow for settlement around the station.
It was also around this time that closer settlement of the area was occurring on the subdivided pastoral holdings and a number of settlers from northern Victoria and South Australia moved to the area and commenced wheat farming on their properties.
After further consultation a branch railway line, this time running from Ungarie to Naradhan, was constructed, opening on 11 February 1929. By this time Ungarie was servicing an important wheat growing area. The district’s farmers were soon to receive a major setback, however, with the onset of the Great Depression of the 1930s forcing a number of farmers from their land while others held on grimly through the hard times. Those who stayed were later rewarded with a dramatic increase in the price of wool following the end of the Korean War in 1951. This was followed by 18 years of above average rainfall and favourable growing conditions.
Ungarie is today a small, rural town located near Humbug Creek in the Bland Shire, 42km north-west of West Wyalong.