In 1828 a freed convict turned innkeeper from Campbelltown named Timothy
Beard, had a squattage on the Molonglo River call “Quinbean”, thought to
be from an Aboriginal word meaning “clear water”. Beard was credited with having
the first settlement close to the present site of Queanbeyan, although his
occupancy was illegal.
It wasn’t until 1838, before Queanbeyan was officially proclaimed a township
with a population of 50 persons. The discovery of traces of gold in 1851,
along with the establishment of lead and silver mines, saw the town flourish
briefly. This was also the time when settlers had to contend with bushrangers
that included John Tennant, Jacky Jacky, Frank Gardiner and Ben Hall. Some of
the historic buildings from that era still stand today.
Queanbeyan’s “golden age” was with the founding of the first newspaper in
1860 by John Gale (1831-1929). Prospering as a primary producing area, it was
proclaimed a Municipality in February 1885 that covered an area of 5,700 acres.
It was William James Farrer (1845-1906), the wheat experimentalist, who
established Queanbeyan’s reputation as an agricultural district with his famous
“Federation” rust-free strain, developed at his property “Lambrigg” at Tharwa.
Although Farrer’s work was only slowly recognised elsewhere in Australia, the
local farmers supported him, especially with the development of “Blount’s
Lambrigg”, another strain, which in 1889 was to give hope to farmers after the
disaster of 1887, when crops failed after heavy Christmas rains. “Federation”
became the leading variety throughout Australia during 1910 to 1925, although by
1914, of the 29 varieties recommended for growing in New South Wales, 22 of them
were developed by him.
At the height of Queanbeyan rural prosperity, it boasted 16 public houses and
six flourmills powered by wind, water, horse and steam.
Cultural Map of
Bright Sparcs - Farrer, William James
Part of the capital country and gateway to the
Snowy Mountains and
NSW South Coast region, Queanbeyan offers much for the visitor. Take
a tour of the heritage walk, and visit the local galleries. Do a
scenic drive and take in the Molonglo Gorge and Googong Foreshores.
Check out our range of
In addition to our listed online travel guide information, contact the local
tourism visitor centre for your destination for more attractions, tours, local
maps and other information.