Guyra,_New_South_Wales

Guyra, New South Wales

Guyra is a town situated midway between Armidale and Glen Innes on the Northern Tablelands in the New England region of New South Wales, Australia. It is the seat of Guyra Shire. At the 2001 census, Guyra had a population of 1,725. Located on a volcanic uplift of the Northern Tablelands, the town is one of the highest in Australia at 1330 metres above sea level. The town is known for its extremely cold winters, by Australian standards, with an average of 59 frosty nights having subzero temperatures each year.

The New England Highway is the main transport link to Guyra. The Northern Railway tracks still pass through the town, but this line is now disused north of Armidale.

Guyra is located to one side of the Mother of Ducks Lagoon which is contained within a now extinct volcanic crater. The Mother of Ducks Lagoon Nature Reserve has been placed on the Register of the National Estate. The golf course, picnic areas and a walkway to a viewing platform are situated on the shores of the lagoon.

All rivers on the eastern side of the railway line flow towards the Pacific Ocean, while those west of this rail line run west, to ultimately join the Murray River.

History

The Anaiwan group of Indigenous Australians were the inhabitants of the region surrounding Guyra. Originally called Hillgo'el or Illgoel an Aboriginal word of the Yukambal meaning a 'swamp' and later changed to the name of Marsh’s run, ‘Guyra'.

Settlement by European farmers began in the 1835 when Alexander Campbell took up Guyra Station, which encompassed the now town area. Ollera Station was settled in 1838 and had the first church in the Guyra district when it was built in 1876. In 1840 Donald McIntyre was recorded as the lessee of “Gyra”; and in 1848 ‘Guyra’ then 15,000 acres, was leased by Charles William Marsh. The Great Northern Railway was extended through Guyra in 1884. Guyra was proclaimed as a village on 20 March 1885. Dairying was an important industry during the 1890s after which potato growing became more popular.

Guyra became the focus of national attention on 5 February 1960 when a four year old boy named Steven Walls wandered off from his father on a property north of the town and became lost for four days. Hundreds of volunteers searched the bush for the boy until he was discovered asleep against a log. His immediate question to searchers was 'Where's my daddy, where's my daddy?'; which gave rise to a hit song by singer Johnny Ashcroft, entitled 'Little Boy Lost'. A film of the events was later commercially made using many of the local people of Guyra and shown across Australia. Steven still lives in the local area.

Industries

Guyra was home to a large regional abattoir that employed up to 350 staff until it closed in 1995. The abattoir building now houses an angora rabbit breeding establishment. The principal industries include fine wool and lambs, beef cattle, potatoes and tomatoes. A 20ha green house extension is being built at Guyra which will employ up to 240 workers and produce 12 million kilos of tomatoes making them the largest tomato producer in Australia. Top of the Range Tomatoes, Guyra won the Northern Inland Development Innovation Award for Agriculture and also the Innovator of the Year Award in 2007.

The main annual celebration is the Lamb and Potato Festival held in January. The local bowling club boasts of being the highest (elevation above sea level) bowling green in the southern hemisphere, which is in fact not correct as there are several lawn bowling clubs in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is at several hundred metres higher elevation than Guyra.

There are many local organisations such as Apex and Rotary. The town also has a strong sporting background with football, polocrosse, soccer and cricket teams. Guyra also has bowling greens, tennis courts, a cricket field, hockey fields and a gun and rifle range.

The Current Mayor is Richard Burey who replaced Robyn Jackson as mayor in 2007.

References

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