Booligal is a village in the Riverina area of western New South Wales (NSW), Australia. It is located on the Cobb Highway, on the Lachlan River north of Hay. Booligal is a part of the Hay Shire Council local government area.
The name of the village is an Aboriginal word meaning either (1) 'windy place', or (2) 'large swamp', 'place of flooded box trees'.
The township of Booligal was laid out by Surveyor Edward Twynam and gazetted as a township in July 1860. In December 1860 it was reported that a store and two public-houses were being erected in the new township. Licenses for the two hotels were initially refused by the Bench of Magistrates at Hay “on account of there being no police belonging to the locality”. On appeal however the applications for licenses at Booligal were granted. Neil McColl became the licensee of the Drovers’ Arms Hotel (possibly the renovated Roset’s hotel) and John Ledwidge was granted a license for the Booligal Hotel. On 31 January 1861 – “the first red letter day at this new township on the Lower Lachlan” – both hotels were opened to the public.
In March 1861 the Adelaide firm of Randell and Scott opened at store at Booligal. The manager, Thomas Hitchcox, was briefly postmaster. In August 1862 it was reported that both hotels at Booligal were closed and the two publicans were insolvent. Hitchcock resigned as storekeeper to take over the license of the Booligal Hotel. Another Adelaide firm, Morgan and Pollard, opened a second store at Booligal by 1863, managed by Henry N. Smith, who became postmaster until his death in June 1868.
During 1871-2 Edward Roset had a bridge built over the Lachlan River at Booligal: “Mr. Roset is showing himself a man of extraordinary public spirit, he is bridging the Lachlan with an immensely strong bridge, the piles are three feet diameter at the butt, and driven twelve feet into the bed of the river; the approaches are excellent, and work to the present time has cost over £2,000, and it is half done”. Roset’s new bridge (for which he charged a toll for its use) was opened for sheep traffic on 3 September 1872 (and for general traffic later in the year). The bridge, which still remains at the lower end of Lachlan Street, was built above flood level and flanked by extensive banked-up approaches.
In April 1877 in was reported that Booligal consisted of nineteen buildings, including a court-house, two hotels, two stores, a blacksmith's shop and two butchers' shops, as well as a school-house and a parsonage. The school-house and parsonage were new buildings, still incomplete. At that stage the population of Booligal was over 100 persons.
In 1878 the telegraph line was extended to Booligal.
Booligal’s position on the direct transport route linking the Murrumbidgee and Darling rivers ensured its importance in the district during the latter half of the 19th century. Drays hauling wool from stations north of the Lachlan passed through the township in large numbers, and station supplies were transported in the opposite direction. Booligal was a major stopping-place for the mail and passenger coach travelling between Hay and Wilcannia on the Darling River.
In 1890 Booligal had a population of about 500 people.
In 1967 a memorial to explorer and surveyor John Oxley was erected at Booligal; the monument is in the form of a giant theodolite set in stone.
The village of Booligal has a general store and post office. There is a cricket oval for the occasional social game, shaded eating areas, playground and toilet facilities. The Booligal Hotel offers cold beverages, food and accommodation. A one-teacher primary school was recently re-opened in the village.