The name Howlong is derived from the Aboriginal word ’Oolong’, meaning a gathering of native companions (Brolga birds), and these birds still nest in the district today. Howlong’s origins can be traced back to 1836 when the NSW surveyor-general, Major Mitchell set up camp on the southern bank before crossing the river as part of his Australia Felix expedition.
In 1838 Joseph Hawdon set off from Howlong on the first Overland Cattle Drive to Adelaide, with 340 head of cattle. The same river crossing used by Hawdon was used in 1838 for the first overland mail delivery, using horse and saddlebags from Port Phillip (Melbourne) to Yass, thence to Sydney via stage coach. This river crossing is now crossed by modern bridges.
The town was surveyed in 1854 and town blocks went on sale in 1856.
With historic buildings scattered throughout the town, Howlong’s Heritage Trail provides the perfect way to explore this quintessential Australian country town. The trail totals 13.3kms and covers 28 significant locations in the area.
The Flour Mill, Residence and Mill Hotel are one of the major historic attractions you will find along the trail. The mill was operated by a 26 horsepower engine operative six millstones which commenced production in 1867 with the flour winning a gold medal at the Philadelphia World Fair.
It is interesting to note that the mill featured an exhaust fan that sucked refuse instead of blowing it over the country side, indicating that Howlong was in the conservation and environmental business in 1867.
Whether you spend half a day or a whole week delving into the rich history of Howlong, you will be sure to be left wanting to know more.