Peek into the past when you visit the historic township of Whitton.
In Memorial Park, see the monument to the pioneers of Whitton and the teamsters who travelled the nearby stock route in the 1850s. It also highlights the use of whips and whims (winches and wooden structures driven by a horse on a circular track) to raise water for the village.
Don’t forget to check out Charred Memories, a large-scale artwork by Carla Gottgens that depicts the history of Whitton and the fires that twice razed it. It’s part of the Lyrics, Landscapes and Lintels Public Art Trail. New murals on old shopfronts in the main street and the recently installed 15-metre-high large-scale public artwork erected as a tribute to the Anzacs on the water tower behind Memorial Park are also must-sees when you’re in town.
Fit in a visit to nearby Southern Cotton if you’ve timed your foray to Whitton with the season – tours run from May to September – and see the ginning process first-hand. Next door, you’ll find the region’s newest attraction, Whitton Malt House, a world-first journey from the farm gate through the malting process to a range of finished products that are supplied to whisky distillers, craft brewers and bakers. Of course, as part of the experience, you get to taste them.
Whitton is a small historic town located 25km west of Leeton. Originally named Hulong, it is the oldest town in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. It can be accessed via road from Whitton Road, Irrigation Way and the Darlington Point–Whitton Road.
Whitton’s history as a colonial-era railway town – trains arrived here in 1881 – is obvious as you cross the old line on Binya Street and enter the commercial district. In fact, the town is named after John Whitton, who was the engineer-in-charge of NSW Government Railways at the time.
In fact, the town is named after John Whitton, who was the engineer-in-charge of NSW Government Railways at the time. The extra-wide main street inspires images of loaded wagons drawn by horses or bullocks going to and from the carriers’ camp, where the town park is now located, to the station.
Colonial-style buildings dating from the beginning of Whitton’s railway era can be seen in the museum complex in Gogeldrie Street. The 1920s locomotive water tank and an original signal lever system can be viewed at close range in the railway reserve on the original site of the railway station in Stevenson Street.
The 1900s post office in Hulong Street still operates this vital service. A drive around the town will reveal other buildings from earlier eras, including the 1894 St John’s Anglican Church on Melbergen Street and the 1901 McGaw Presbyterian Church on Beechworth Street.
A few Art Deco-style buildings – they replaced the originals burned down in a series of fires that occurred between 1892 and 1927 – are still in use as businesses today in the town centre opposite the park. Murals depicting business and social activity from the 1920s to the 1940s are also on display there.
Researched and written by Margaret Strong, Whitton Museum volunteer, 2022. All the information is from her recent research into Whitton’s history and her personal knowledge of the town. Other versions of these short documents can be supplied on request. References for the information above include NSW Government Gazettes, historic newspapers via Trove, The Story of the South Western Line by Neville Pollard, and NSW post office commercial directories.