(Original spelling Bukka–Bri)
Kamilaroi meaning: Place of Many Creeks
Before settlement, the area was home to notorious English criminal George ‘the Barber’ Clarke, a convicted armed robber sentenced to farm work near Singleton in 1825. Clarke escaped, painted his skin dark, took two Aboriginal wives and wandered the north west stealing cattle before the authorities caught and hanged him in 1831. The convict frequented Barbers Lagoon and Barbers Pinnacle, both east of Boggabri.
Clarke’s creative tales of a navigable river, known as the Kindur, flowing into a vast inland sea prompted Sir Thomas Mitchell to lead an expedition into north west NSW in 1831. Although he never found the Kindur, he discovered the region’s fertile plains. A site was settled in the 1830s, but was relocated 20km north after a flood washed it away in the 1850s. Boggabri was then proclaimed a town in 1860 and is now the only town in the Narrabri Shire that does not flood (although a levee bank built in the late 1970s now protects Wee Waa from flood). The town came into its own when the railway opened in 1882.
Boggabri’s central business area has been located in three different streets over the years, creating an interesting mix of architecture that can be explored by foot along the Boggabri Heritage Trail. This trail unearths the varied history behind 31 local sites. More local history can also be discovered at the Boggabri Historical Museum.
The town also boasts a nine-hole golf course, bowling club and RSL club, swimming pool, sporting oval, tennis court and three parks. Accommodation includes serviced apartments, a motel, caravan park, and two hotels. Fuel and motor repairs are also available.
A social highlight is the annual, award-winning Drovers Campfire, which celebrates Boggabri’s rich agricultural history and showcases the community’s unmatched hospitality. This unique five-day event brings more than 1200 visitors to the Boggabri Showground in April. They ‘camp’ in their mobile homes, get hands-on in billy boiling and shearing competitions, watch rural demonstrations such as heavy horse pulling, working dogs and wood turning, browse antique machinery, tour cotton farms, cattle stations, woolsheds and local attractions, and then relax around the campfire for traditional camp oven dinners and evening entertainment. Local mining tours also expose visitors to the ins and outs of coal and coal seam gas exploration.
The event evokes the camaraderie of Aussie drovers sharing a hot meal and conversation around a warm open fire, underneath the twinkling night sky. The number and range of displays, tours and demonstrations grows every year, ensuring there is always something new to entice return visits. And hundreds of people do in fact return year after year to reclaim friendships and reconnect with the Aussie bush.
A must-see natural attraction near Boggabri is Dripping Rock, a beautiful waterfall set within a lush melaleuca forest. After a short walk from the carpark, visitors emerge from the trees to find a semi-circular cliff towering over a small, serene rock pool. Water seeps through sedimentary rock to drip and billow down the 50-metre high wall.
Gins Leap on the Kamilaroi Highway between Boggabri and Narrabri also has an interesting history as a stopover hotel between 1854 and 1867, and as the site where two Aboriginal lovers leapt to their deaths to escape a promised betrothal and tribesmen. An historic grave site marks the spot, and a picnic area and interpretive sign are provided.
One of the state’s largest suppliers to the Honey Corporation of Australia is also nestled in this friendly community. Nelson’s Honey Factory produces honey from white and yellow box and narrow leafed iron bark. This sweet spread is available for purchase at the Visitor Information Centre in Narrabri.