Our History

On Friday 8th December 1820, a party consisting of Joseph Wild, James Vaughan and Charles Throsby Smith, were searching for the Murrumbidgee River, when they came upon two small streams forming a single river winding through a valley at the eastern end of the Limestone Plains. The area became a natural stop for travellers crossing into the Monaro; by 1824, prospective settlers were establishing 'stock stations' around the region.

In 1828 an ex-convict named Timothy Beard, known as an innkeeper from Campbelltown, had a squattage called 'Quinbean', on the Molonglo River.  Quinbean was actually the name of the local aboriginal tribe that lived here, the meaning of the word is "clear waters".  Beard was credited with having the first settlement close to the present site of Queanbeyan, though his occupancy was illegal.

Old maps of 1833 show at least 12 stations in the Molonglo, Gundaroo, Lake George and Bungendore area. The first Post Office was established in Crawford Street in 1836, and in 1837 Captain Alured Tasker Faunce of the 4th (King's Own) regiment was appointed resident Police Magistrate.

With a population of approximately 50 persons, Queanbeyan was officially proclaimed a township in 1838. Some buildings still exist from that time.

1851 saw the discovery of gold traces in the area; lead and silver mines also flourished briefly. Bushrangers, the likes of John Tennant, Jacky Jacky, Frank Gardiner and Ben Hall worked the area.

The "Golden Age' was Queanbeyan's first newspaper, founded in 1860 by John Gale.

Queanbeyan, prospering as a primary producing area, was proclaimed a Municipality in February, 1885, containing an area of 5,700 acres.

Wheat experimentalist William James Farrer established Queanbeyan's status as an agricultural district with his famous 'Federation' rust-free strain, developed on his Tharwa property 'Lambrigg'. Supported immediately by locals, particularly as his development of 'Blount's Lambrigg' in 1889 gave hope after the disaster of 1887 (when crops had failed after heavy Christmas rains), Farrer's work was only slowly recognised elsewhere in Australia.

The town sported 16 public houses operating at one time or another, with seven flourmills powered by wind, water, horse and steam.

By 1972 Queanbeyan met the first basic requirement of city status: that the population rise to more than fifteen thousand and that a future population of at least that number was assured. City status was granted on the 7th July, 1972.

On the 11th February 2004 a Proclamation was approved by Governor of New South Wales Professor Marie Bashir AC, to constitute new Local Government areas in the region surrounding the Australian Capital Territory. Queanbeyan City Council was replaced by the Greater Queanbeyan City Council; the councillors of the former Council were replaced by an Administrator (the Mayor of the previous Council) until the declaration of the first elected Council. The new area encompasses approximately 172.88 square kilometres, an increase of about 122 square kilometres.

In 2013 Queanbeyan celebrated its 175th birthday. This milestone is an opportunity for the community and visitors to celebrate the city's history and progress, recognise the past and present and be excited by its future prospects and potential.

Visit our Historical Museum

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