Walgett is a town in northern New South Wales, Australia, and the seat of Walgett Shire.
- Area:6565.984 km2
- Elevation:136 m
- Local Government Area:Walgett Shire Council
Walgett is a town in northern New South Wales, Australia, and the seat of Walgett Shire. It is near the junctions of the Barwon and Namoi Rivers and the Kamilaroi and Castlereagh Highways. In 2016, Walgett had a population of 2,145.In the 2016 Census, there were 6,107 people in the Walgett Local Government Area. Of these 52.9% were male and 47.1% were female. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people made up 29.4% of the population. Walgett takes its name from an Aboriginal word meaning 'the meeting place of two rivers'. The town was listed as one of the most socially disadvantaged areas in the State according to the 2015 Dropping Off The Edge report.
The area was inhabited by the Gamilaroi (also spelt Kamilaroi) Nation of Indigenous peoples before European settlement.
Yuwaalaraay (also known as Yuwalyai, Euahlayi, Yuwaaliyaay, Gamilaraay, Kamilaroi, Yuwaaliyaayi) is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken on Yuwaalaraay country. The Yuwaalaraay language region includes the landscape within the local government boundaries of the Shire of Balonne, including the town of Dirranbandi as well as the border town of Hebel extending to Walgett and Collarenebri in New South Wales.
Yuwaalayaay (also known as Yuwalyai, Euahlayi, Yuwaaliyaay, Gamilaraay, Kamilaroi, Yuwaaliyaayi) is an Australian Aboriginal language spoken on Yuwaalayaay country. It is closely related to the Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay languages. The Yuwaalayaay language region includes the landscape within the local government boundaries of the Shire of Balonne, including the town of Dirranbandi as well as the border town of Goodooga extending to Walgett and the Narran Lakes in New South Wales.
A post office was gazetted for "Wallgett on the Barwin River" in 1851 and the town sites were surveyed in 1859. The district would have been occupied prior to this by squatters and their livestock.
The town of Walgett was proclaimed on 20 March 1885. The surveyor Arthur Dewhurst mapped the town, naming three streets after British Prime Ministers: Fox (main street—Castlereagh Highway), Pitt and Peel. Arthur Street was named after another surveyor. Walgett Courthouse was built in 1865.Walgett was a port in the late 19th century for paddle steamers that plied the Murray-Darling river system. The first steamer reached Walgett in 1861 and travelled to the town regularly until c.1870.Euroka Station, 10 miles (16 km) south of the town on the Castlereagh Highway, was purchased by Fred Wolseley in 1876 and was the site of the invention of the Wolseley Shearing Machine. The machine was tested at Bourke in 1888 on 184,000 sheep and eventually revolutionised the shearing industry.
Walgett's history includes the Freedom Rides in the mid-1960s. The Freedom Riders, consisting in the main of Sydney university students, including Charles Perkins, arrived in Walgett on 15 February 1965. They protested outside the Walgett RSL Club because they had been told the club was refusing to admit Indigenous ex-servicemen. They also picketed a ladies' dress shop (Sheehan's), protesting the fact that the proprietor would not allow Indigenous women to try on dresses. After their protests the Freedom Riders left town and headed for Narrabri, when a short distance from Walgett their bus was allegedly forced off the road by a car driven by a local farmer. This event led to Walgett, the Freedom Riders and the plight of Indigenous Australians receiving national and international media attention.
Walgett has a hot, semi-arid climate (BSh) with hot to very hot summers and mild to cool winters with occasional frosts. Summer temperatures frequently rise above 40 °C (104 °F), and a maximum temperature of 49.2 °C (120.6 °F) was recorded on 3 January 1903, which is one of the hottest temperatures recorded in the state. The annual rainfall is fairly low, at 480.6 millimetres (18.92 in) which falls fairly evenly throughout the year; however, summer rainfall usually falls as heavy but infrequent downpours associated with thunderstorms; winter rain is usually very light, but can last for days at a time.
In December 2018 amidst drought, the Barwon River at Walgett ceased flowing, reduced to a series of stagnant pools. Bore water from the Great Artesian Basin being used by the town was of questionable quality in relation to the Australian drinking water guidelines, leading to concerns of usage within the town.
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