If you’re a fan of Australia’s bush-ranging history, you’ve come to the right place. The historic town of Jerilderie in the beautiful Riverina region is the only NSW town to have been raided by the Kelly Gang – it’s also where bushranger Ned Kelly attempted to have his 8,000-word manifesto printed by the local newspaper editor in 1879.
Go road tripping
Road trips don’t get much better than the Kidman Way, a scenic driving route through the heart of NSW to Bourke in the north. And Jerilderie is the southern gateway to the route, taking you past merino farms and orchards growing tomatoes, olives and organic wine grapes.
Cobar sign, Kidman Way - Credit: Great Cobar Heritage Centre
Jerilderie sits on the banks of Billabong Creek, the longest creek in Australia. Begin your adventure here with a self-guided tour known as the Ned Kelly Raid Trail of 1879, which takes you to the 16 sites visited by Ned Kelly and his gang in 1879. With six of the buildings directly associated to the 1879 visit still standing, it offers a fantastic insight to how the town looked when Ned visited. Pick up a brochure for the experience from the Sticky Fingers Candy Shop, which houses the visitor information centre. Alternatively, make the most of a new virtual tour, themed ‘Hero or Outlaw’, playing on the polarising effect of the gang and their iconic place in Australian history.
Ned Kelly wanted his 56-page Jerilderie letter published in what is now called the Old Printery Building, the home of the Doing the Bolt exhibition about bushrangers. The manifesto was used as the basis for Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang, a novel that won the Man Booker Prize.
Telegraph Office, Jerilderie
Back to nature
Lake Jerilderie is a popular spot to cool off and enjoy water sports – right next door is Luke Park, which comes with free barbecue facilities and a playground. Be sure to check out Steel Wings, an enormous windmill that doubles as an art installation of sorts. If you’re travelling with kids, you’ll want to make tracks to the Jerilderie Steam Rail, which operates rides around town on the second Sunday of the month. Other recreational attractions include golf, tennis and lawn bowls.
Lake Jerilderie, Jerilderie - Credit: Matt Beaver - Murrumbidgee Council
For lovers of gardens and historic buildings, visit the faithfully restored 1880s-built Flora Bank. The garden is open to the public from September to June and the house by appointment.
Places to stay in Jerilderie include B&Bs, caravan and camping sites, motels and country pubs.
Jerilderie is less than two hours’ drive west of Wagga Wagga and 90 minutes south of Griffith – both have airports that you can fly into, then hire a car to get to your destination. From Melbourne, the drive via Tocumwal is 3.5 hours. From Sydney, the drive takes seven hours.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.