Barmedman is a small rural town situated about 35kms south east of West Wyalong and Wyalong, the next largest town in the Bland Shire.
Prior to European settlement it seems to have been on the border of disputed
territory between the Lachlan and Murrumbidgee tribes of the Wiradjuri peoples.
It is thought that Thomas Mitchell, surveyor-general, visited the area in 1927
and named it 'The Levels' because of the flat nature of the ground.
The first European settler was John Cartwright, who laid claim to over 35,000
acres on which to graze his cattle (Barmedman Station, between 1835 and 1838).
The land at that time was covered in dense brush, with a wide variety of native
flora and fauna, later cleared over the years to provide good grazing land. This
large station was also farmed by share farmers later in the century, and broken
up in the 1920s into smaller lots, some taken up under the soldier settlement
By the 1840s most of the land around barmedman and Wyalong was taken up by large leaseholdings, mostly running sheep. Wheat was introduced into the area in the 1890s.
Gold was first discovered at Barmedman in 1872 and the goldfield proclaimed in
1879. Because of the nature of the reefs and flooding from the water table, the
goldfields were only suitable for syndicate and large scale corporate mining. The largest of these was the Fiery Cross Reef, just north of the town.
Ore crushing batteries at Barmedman processed rock from as far away as Wyalong in the early days, until batteries were established there later. The local mi ing boom gradually petered out in the first years of the C20th.
The discoveries led to a demand for a township to be laid out. Barmedman was
gazetted in 1882.
Within a year there were over 500 inhabitants, several hotels, a school, churches (more permanent bulidngs erected much later) court house and police barracks. A postal and telegraph office (formerly called Wyalong and located on a station, now renamed Barmedman) was erected in the town in 1883; it was soon joined by a bank branch.
Transport was difficult in the early days of the township, mostly by horse and cart and bullock waggon on a poor road to the railhead at Temora. It took until 1903 to persuade the government to extend the railway to Barmedman and on to Wyalong; another branch line was built from Barmedman to Rankins Springs in 1923.
The railway, along with new property subdivisions encouraged the growing of wheat, many tens of thosands of bushells being shipped out annually. The huge wheat silos alongside the railway line indicate wheat as a major industry. Wool was also important in the early C20th, although much wool growing has been replaced by fat lambs and cattle in recent years.
Barmedman was a small but vibrant country town during most of the C20th. Isolation and poor transport meant that most commercial activity took place within the town (as can be seen by the large number of shop premises - mostly empty today).
A School of Arts (1913) with library catered for adult education, and 'Canberra Hall' (1913) was the centre of local entertainment. A new bank of NSW was opened in 1912 (originally 1892); a branch of the Meagher retail chain operated in town from 1906 to 1957. There was also a Masonic Lodge (1923 to 1974).
Many of the major public buildings were built between the wars: the first Catholic Church of 1885 was replaced by a brick building in 1922, a new convent school 1935 (originally 1880s) - closed in the 1960s. Holy Cross Lutheran Church and St John's Presbyterian were built in 1926 (although both parishes predate the town); St. John's Anglican Church (1938) was the third of the name, two previously wooden buildings (1889 and 1906) were moved elsewhere.
A telephone exchange was installed in the town in 1911, and electricity in 1930. A new Public School was built in 1935. 1937 saw the connection of the town to a permanent water supply from Burrinjuck dam and a local fire brigade was established not long after.
Social life was centred around the churches, halls, sporting clubs and hotels. Balls, dances and theatrical performances were popular, as was tennis - the town still has a large number of courts; the annual agricultural show (Society 1907) and the social activities of the Junior Farmers movement brought people from the land into town and the football competition - hotly contested against neighbouring towns - was a highlight of the sporting calendar.
Barmedman Mineral Pool (1951).
A local picture theatre operated in the 1950s, and the opening of the Mineral Pool in 1951 was a magnet for the young and families alike.
This pool, a community project, is situated within 4 hectares of native reserve. Open in October each year for the summer, it is fed by water pumped up from old mine shafts which is high in minerals, making it a natural spa. The pool complex itself is over an acre in size and caters for toddlers to adults.
Like many country towns, a large proportion of the young men went away to the wars. A large memorial stands in a park in the centre of town in their honour. Many did not come back to the area on their return, leading to a decline in population in the late C20th exacerbated by the usual restructuring of country life brought about by the car and better roads favouring larger country centres.
Today Barmedman is a small farming community on the main road between Wyalong and Temora. Its residents retain a strong sense of the history of their past.
The curative powers of the mineral baths attract many visitors in summer, but it is worth while for the visitor to stop for a picnic or refreshments and take a stroll around streets between the shopping centre and railway, where a number of early C20th buildings can be enjoyed.