Junee - Culture and History

Prior to white settlement the area was occupied by the Wiradjuri Aborigines. It is widely accepted that 'junee' is a Wiradjuri word meaning 'speak to me'. The 'Jewnee' pastoral run was established in the 1840s. A post office opened in 1862 and a village called 'Jewnee' was gazetted in 1863 on the wool road to Sydney. That same year, Ben Hall's bushranging gang, who were very active in the area, raided the village. Hall, Johnny Gilbert and John Vane held up Hammond's store while Michael Burke and John O'Meally bailed up Williams' Pub. Members of 'Blue Cap's' gang also raided an hotel at Jewnee in 1867.

In 1866 the population of the village was recorded as twelve but the discovery of reef and alluvial gold in the 1860s increased interest in the area. The main sites - Old Junee (to the west), Junee Reefs (to the north) and Illabo (to the north-east) - were mined until c.1880.

Selectors began to take an interest in the area when the route of the railway line from Cootamundra to Wagga Wagga became known.

In 1876, grazier Christopher Crawley acquired 520 acres upon which the railway would pass. He built the original Hotel Junee (on the site of the present Hotel Junee) and a general store to serve the railway navvies. Some sources claim he also built and sold houses to the railway workers.

In 1878 the railway arrived, though it passed 6 km east of the established village to take advantage of the flatter ground. A new settlement began to gather around the track and, presumably, around Crawley's store and hotel. This stimulated local selection and development as it meant greatly enhanced regional access to the major market centres. In 1880 the railway sheds and workshops of Wagga Wagga were removed to the new site and a railway station was built in 1881. Initially known as Junee Junction, it was renamed 'Loftus' in 1883 after the current governor of NSW but was gazetted in 1885 as Junee in accordance with local usage. The town soon became one of the state's most important railway centres and it benefited from the consequent need for accommodation and railway repair facilities. Local government was established in 1886 and a courthouse was built in 1890.

In 1952 the largest wheat terminal in the Southern Hemisphere was built at Junee. Of more interest to the general public is the fact that Junee was the birthplace of Rugby League player Laurie Daly.

The Junee Professional Rodeo is held in February, the Monte Cristo Charity Ball in September and the Agricultural Show in October. The Illabo Country Music Stampede is held at Illabo in April.