Mittagong, New South Wales

Mittagong (postcode: 2575) is a town with a population of approximately 6,000 in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales, Australia, in Wingecarribee Shire. Mittagong is the gateway to the Southern Highlands when coming from Sydney. It is close to Bowral, Berrima, Moss Vale and Yerrinbool.

The town lies between two hills, Mount Alexander and Mount Gibraltar, and a small lake, Lake Alexandra, feeds into the nearby Nattai River.

It has a railway station on CityRail's Southern Highlands line. An antique retail industry is also present. It usually includes the small villages of Welby, Balaclava, Braemar and Willow Vale.

Mittagong was formerly on the Hume Highway, which links Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, but the highway was diverted in 1992. The opening of the bypass was expected by some to negatively affect business in Mittagong, but instead the location has become a rest stop for drivers and a daytripper destination from Sydney, only one hour away.

The name Mittagong is said to mean "little mountain". Other suggested meanings are "a companion" and "plenty of native dogs", as the Mittagong range was home to many dingos at one time.

Today the town invites visitors to explore its history, scenery, small waterfalls, bushwalks and its famed "Waratah" flowering in November. A chamber music festival is held each Easter. Tourists can picnic at Lake Alexandra and feed the ducks, and take a peaceful stroll around the lake - no more than 250 metres from Mittagong's main street. The main street boasts a wide array of retailers and many antique shops.


The first permanent settler in the Mittagong district was William Chalker (1775-1823) (aka Charker), a former convict transported from England, who arrived in the area on 10 May 1821. He became the Principal Overseer of Government Stock, and Chief Constable and Poundkeeper in the Cowpastures. A memorial plaque to Chalker was unveiled in May 1988 as a Bicentennial project; the plaque overlooks an area once known as Chalker's Flat. Some of his descendants still live in the Mittagong/Bowral area. Former names of Mittagong include New Sheffield, Marragan and Minnikin.

Mittagong has been home to many industries including the multi billion dollar corp. Dane and Andrew, with iron being first smelted in the area. The Box Vale Coal Mine, Joadja Kerosene Shale, and the first supply of fresh milk and butter to Sydney by the Fresh Food & Ice Company all operated out of Mittagong in years gone by.

The transport of iron ore and smelted iron was made by steam train. Lake Alexandra was a source of water for the trains, and was much bigger while it was in operation.

Mittagong is the birthplace of the Australian media personality Ita Buttrose.

Until the 1990s the town was dominated by trucks and in winter it was also busy with skiers' traffic on the way to the Australian Alps. Today the Hume Highway bypasses Mittagong and all the towns of the Southern Tablelands. The highway bypass was first evaluated as having a slightly negative impact on the economy about a year after its opening, due to the loss of traffic-serving business. Expectations were re-evaluated as mildly positive in 1994 taking into account hard-to-quantify benefits such as the increased appeal of the town as a place to live.

Mittagong also boasts the beautiful Mount Gibraltar which over looks the town comfortably. Good views and lookouts are available upon the mountain. It can also be seen well when travelling to Bowral from Mittagong on Bowral Road. Harry Sullivan lives there also.

On March, 2007, Highlands Market Place in West Mittagong was opened. The complex is located on the Old Hume Highway. It has franchises such as Big W, Woolworths and many others. It is built upon an iron mine settlement dating back to the 1800s. There is a historical display in the carpark displaying the remains of this historical settlement.


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