The traditional owners

The traditional owners of this land are the Kamilaroi, or Gomeroi People whose lands extended from Singleton in the Hunter Valley to the Warrumbungle Mountains in the West and through the present-day centres of Quirindi, Gunnedah, Tamworth, Narrabri, Walgett, Moree, Lightning Ridge and Mungindi in NSW to Nindigully in south-west Queensland. The Gomeroi formed one of the four largest indigenous nations in Australia.

The ethonym Gamilaraay is formed from gamil, meaning ‘no’, and the suffix -(b)araay, bearing the sense of ‘having’. It is a common practice among Australian tribes to have themselves identified according to their respective words for ‘no’.

The Gamilaroi were hunters and gatherers with a band-level social organization. The nation was made up of many smaller family groups who had their own parcels of landto sustain them. Their diet consisted in vegetables like yams and other roots, sterculia grain, which was made into a bread,  insect larvae, frogs, and eggs of several different animals as well as Vvarious birds, kangaroos, emus, possums, echidnas, and bandicoots. Dingo pups were regarded as a delicacy. Fish were also consumed, as were crayfish, mussels, and shrimp. Men typically hunted, cleaned, and prepared the game for cooking. Women did the actual cooking, in addition to fishing and gathering. Individual Kamilaroi did not eat animals that were their totems.

One of the great Kings of this tribe was Red Chief, who is buried near Gunnedah. The Kamilaroi were regarded as fierce warriors and there is ample evidence of intertribal warfare. The Northern Gamilaroi people have a strong cultural connection with the Bigambul people, and the tribes met regularly for joint ceremonies.


The AA Company

By 1831 squatters were pusing beyond the legal limits of settlement looking for rich pastures when Surveyor-General Sir Thomas Mitchell reached the Liverpool Plains. In 1832 Sir Edward Parry came looking for land for the Australian Agricultural Company, which was the start of settlement in the Liverpool Plains. Today there are traces of the local Heritage in every corner. The Willow Tree Visitor Information Cnetre displays the original desk that was brought to Warrah Station from England by the AA Company. It was donated to the Willow Tree community in 2013.

The Railway

The Quirindi Post Office opened in 1858. The main connection between the Hunter and Tamworth went where the New England Highway goes today, through Wallabadah, which then was bigger than Quirindi. With the railway arriving in the 1870ies, it went through the valley to Tamworth, and Quirindi opened its railway station in 1877 and thrived, becoming the bigger centre in the region. The present Werris Creek Railway Station was opened in 1780. It is heritage listed and is the third largest station building in the state. For approximately 70 years Werris Creek was the largest railway centre in Northern New South Wales, the depot alone employing 800.