Noccundra township is located 142 kilometres west of Thargomindah on the banks of the Wilson River and contained within the pastoral holding of Nockatunga Station, which is owned by the Packer family. The first Hotel in Noccundra was built around 1860 and burned down, which was a common fate of early western Pubs. The present Hotel was built in 1882 of sandstone, quarried from Mt Pool in New South Wales, and transported by Camel Train. The Noccundra Hotel is all that survives of the town today, and was listed by the National Trust in 1977. It is an important link with the establishment of pastoral settlement in this area.
The township of Noccundra was surveyed on the 6th August 1889, however the township never really came into being. The original Town Plan shows Five Streets – Wilson, Norman, Albert (named for Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband), Berteela, and Thungo. Wilson Street is now the Highway heading south to connect with the Silver City Highway in New South Wales. Thungo Street has disappeared, however Berteela, and Albert Streets, remnants of the Victorian era, are still in use today. The Town had forty-two half-acre blocks, although three were resumed when the new Highway was built. Noccundra was for many years an important stopping place for Cobb & Co Coaches.
Today, the community of Noccundra boasts a Hotel, Hall, Tennis Court, Cricket Pitch, Cemetery, and Race Course and Rodeo Ground, with a magnificent Waterhole, that forms part of the Wilson River, directly across the road, and an airstrip at the back of the Hotel. The Noccundra Campdraft, Rodeo & Gymkhana is held annually, and the Noccundra Race Course is also used to hold Race meetings periodically. At the time of the 2006 Census, the population of the town of Noccundra was listed as four (4). Jackson Oil Field is located approximately 57 Fs from Noccundra.
The Noccundra Hotel
The first owner of the Hotel was James Gardiner. In 1915, James Gardiner sold the Hotel and outbuildings to the Hughes Family of Nockatunga Station. It was not sold again until 1990. The Noccundra Hotel was really just a ‘Local’ Pub, until 1980, however it has now become a tourist attraction, with travellers from all over Australia and the world visiting. Fishermen, Four Wheel Drive enthusiasts, Bus Tour Groups, Campers, and Light Aircraft travelers, and locals from neighbouring towns and Stations all stop to have a drink, a chat, a meal and sometimes stay the night.
On the western side of the Hotel stands a plaque erected in memory of the Andrew Hume Expedition, which passed Noccundra Waterhole in November 1874. Andrew Hume, also known as the “Black Prince”, was released from prison in Sydney to lead the expedition in search of a survivor of the lost Leichhardt Expedition. Hume, along with Timothy O’Hea VC, a famous Victoria Cross winner, perished on Nockatunga Station. The only survivor of Hume’s party was Lewis Thompson, and ex-India Army Cavalryman, and piano tuner. Those who perished, rest in unknown graves.
The Grave of a small boy, John Hogan, lies under a lone tree 300 yards to the west of the Hotel. The Crouch children were given the chore of keeping the grave maintained. It used to have a Picket Fence and a timber Headstone.
The Old Noccundra Store
To the west of the Hotel, beside the Amenities Block lies the stone ruins of the old Store. The Store was established at Noccundra by 1891, and was run by James MacColl, who supplied goods to the surrounding Stations. The supplies were purchased from Adelaide, and the goods were then freighted from Adelaide to Cockburn by Rail, and from Cockburn were sent north to Noccundra by Camel Train. The Camel Train was owned by Nockatunga Station and driven by a well-known Afghan named Sedeek Balooch.
The Store also served as a Post Office. A copy of an Order by James MacColl on 24th April 1891 requests:
2 Tons of Flour,
1 Ton of Fine Salt
½ Dozen Cases of Tomatoe Sauce
½ Dozen Cases of Mixed Jams
All of these supplies came from Adelaide by rail, and then Camel Train.
Sometime after 1936, the Public Bar was moved from the Main Hotel building and housed in the old Store. This arrangement was still in place in 1960. However, the Public Bar was back within the premises of the main Hotel building by 1974.
In 1923, the Store was made into a cottage for the daughter of William Crouch, Isobel, when she married. William and Lena Crouch raised nine (9) children at Noccundra, after arriving here in 1909. Three of these children were born in a back room of the Hotel. The Old Store building has since lost its roof and the walls have collapsed and crumbled.
The History of Noccundra Police Station
Two Police Constables were removed from the Station of Nockatunga to the township at Noccundra in the Warrego District on 1 May 1895 and resided in rented premises. The Noccundra Police Station, in the rented premises, was officially opened on 23 May 1895. The combined Police Station/Barracks was erected in November 1899. The building was constructed out of hardwood and had a galvanized iron roof. It contained a Living room, Constables room, Kitchen, and a Cell. Separate from the Station was a Tracker’s hut, Saddle room, and two Tents. The cost for the building was ₤165.7.10 (one hundred and sixty five pounds, ten shillings and ten pence).
The site of the Station covered two acres, and the separate Police Paddock covered 800 acres. The Paddock was unfenced and watered permanently by the Wilson River. The only communication available was by Coach. Noccundra Police Station closed on 1 January 1961. At the time of closure the following was written by the Police Inspector:
“Noccundra is the most isolated station in this district. It is situated 381 road miles south-west of Charleville and joins Thargomindah to the east, Eromanga to the north-west, and to the west, it takes in the South Australian border, a distance of 185 miles away and the New South Wales border, a distance of 137 miles to the south.
It has a population of five adults and one child in the township, and the population of the division is said to be about 180. There are three buildings in the township, namely the police station, a dance hall and one hotel. The Flying Doctor from Charleville calls once each month and apart from this service there are no other amenities available. The township depends on Nockatunga Station for its supply of stores and beef. Bread is home made and vegetable is available during the winter months.
There are twelve holdings, which carry 36,000 head of cattle and 2,000 horses. There is no other industry apart from grazing. The annual rainfall is about seven inches, but extreme drought conditions prevail at the present time. The area of the division is 20,000 square miles.
Signed: Inspector of Police”