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. 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. 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.
The historic village of Whitton was established on 1 September 1881, on the South Western Railway from Junee to Hay to connect the valuable western Riverina wool trade to Sydney.
Opened as ‘Hulong’, after the Parish, the Railway Station was renamed in 1883 by the State Rail Authority. They predicted that the future town to grow would become an important regional centre and the new name a good way to remember John Whitton, the Chief Engineer of Railways NSW since 1857.
During 1880s-1900s Whitton Railway Station received wool and wheat from Pastoral Stations north towards the Lachlan River mainly around Cargelligo and Euabalong. Copper ingots were also carried to Whitton Station by horse or bullock teams from Mt. Hope until 1910. Whitton was the main town for selectors on Nth Kooba, Ballandry, Merool Creek, Nth Benerembah and Nth Bringagee Pastoral Stations from 1881 until c1918. ‘Whitton District’ extended from Mt. Ida (Tabbita), Jondaryon (Griffith), Rankin’s Springs and Binya until railways reached those areas.
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.
People from this wide area depended on Whitton for the Railway Station (wheat, wool, copper ingots, livestock, passengers, mail and shop supplies), A.J.S Bank (1889-1910), Postal and Telegraphic services, a variety of shops, hotels and a Rabbit Meat Canning Factory (1897-1906). Whitton also hosted community groups such as the Farmers and Settlers Association and the Riverine Carrier’s Union during its colonial era, with members coming from Whitton District and village.
A series of fires from 1892-1927 destroyed many of the original Colonial style wooden buildings. Art Deco style buildings replaced these, some of which remain today.
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.