Tumbulgum History

Our Past, Present, Future

  • 31 October 1823, John Oxley discovers the Tweed River.
  • 1842 Cedar Getters arrive on the Tweed River.
  • 1866 the first land selectors arrived on the Tweed River and river port of Tweed Junction established.
  • 1 March 1881, name changed from Tweed Junction to Tumbulgum
  • 26 January 1883, Baker’s Farm Auction enabled development of current village site
  • 24 December 1894, Murwillumbah Railway line opened.  Murwillumbah replaces Tumbulgum as commercial centre of the Tweed.
  • July 1936, Barney’s Point Bridge, Chinderah opens to traffic from Murwillumbah to Tweed Heads.  Bypassing Tumbulgum Road and North Tumbulgum.
  • 1973, Pacific Highway bypasses Tumbulgum enabling the development of Riverside Drive.
  • 20 December 1986, Alexander Twohill Bridge opens replacing the Tumbulgum Ferry.
  • 4 August 2002, Yelgun-Chinderah Freeway opens, the old highway route renamed Tweed Valley Way.

Traditional Owners

There is general acceptance among our Tweed Aboriginal community of the presence of three main groups in the Tweed River Valley. These were the Goodjinburra people for the Tweed Coastal area, the Tul-gi-gin people for the North Arm (Rous), and the Moorang-Moobar people for the Southern and Central Arms around Wollumbin (Mt Warning).

see http://museum.tweed.nsw.gov.au/AboriginalCulturalHeritage

The First Immigrants

A dangerous bar crossing at the Tweed River and many reefs off the coast, and steep mountains surrounding the caldera with very dense rainforest vegetation made the Tweed Valley difficult to access. The call of Cedar first brought Europeans to the Tweed Valley from circa 1843.  The Cedar Getters established a camp, near deep water, at Tarranora on what is now known as Dry Dock Road, South Tweed.

The First Farmers

The passing of the Robertson Lands Acts (1861) reformed the rules governing land ownership and paved the way for settlement of the Tweed.  In 1866 “selectors” started to arrive on the Tweed River and claimed property along both the Tweed and Rous Rivers.  Tweed Junction became the first settlement and important river port on the Tweed River.  These first farmers tried a wide range of crops, including maize, opium, arrowroot and even sericulture (silk worm farming) before the establishment of sugar cane as the principle crop by the mid 1870’s.

By 1870 there were over 200 selectors upon the river, whose holdings were between 200 and 320 acres.  The land was mostly scrub, that was quickly cleared.

1872, just before the sugar industry is established on the Tweed.  Times become very desperate for the Tweed farmers with limited access to markets for their produce.

tweed-river-1877  gives a good description of changing fortunes following the arrival of the CSR on the Tweed.

1885 newspaper report on the Tweed River


Name Change and Land to Build

On and after the 1st March 1881, the post office known as “Tweed Junction” will bear the designation of “Tumbulgum” (SMH 16 Feb 1881).  The name, believed to be an aboriginal expression meaning “the meeting place of waters” was chosen in preference to the proposed names of “Loganville” or “Logan Waters”  by the residents of the Tweed River. (The River, William Logan, 2011, pp7)

nla.news-page000005979656-nla.news-article62127150-L3-8ad110862bdd249acad0560a026a1d2e-0004Baker’s Farm, located on southern side of the Tweed River, across the river from the original site of Tumbulgum/Tweed Junction, was sub divided and a village plan was drawn up complete with roads, places of worship, public buildings.  Plots of land were sold at Auction on 26 January 1883.

This development and changes in road traffic between Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads, enabled Tumbulgum to expand and ultimately be relocated where the current village now stands.  The village became the commercial and social centre of the Tweed Valley by 1880.

Transport systems change how land is used.  In the early days of settlement the river provided transport for the new settlers and the junction of the Tweed and Rous Rivers made a logical site for the settlement of Tumbulgum.  The expansion of the railway to Murwillumbah in 1894, a system of roads and the construction of a bridge across the Tweed at Murwillumbah in 1901 paved the way for Murwillumbah to replace Tumbulgum as the commercial centre of the Tweed.

The original village of Tweed Junction/Tumbulgum was in the vicinity of Bluey Hill Park on the North side of the river.  Today very little of the first settlement known as Tweed Junction can be seen along Dulguigan Road, North Tumbulgum.  To commemorate 150 Years of European settlement at Tumbulgum, a rock momument will be placed at Bluey Hill Park in 2016.


Courtesy of the State Library of South Australia November 1907 Stotts Island.

Beverages of Tumbulgum

Tumbulgum has always been a good watering hole for travellers and locals alike, and has a long and distinguished history of suppling quality beverages to the whole of the Tweed, starting back in 1870 when Alexander Logan built the Junction Inn at Tweed Junction.


Junction Inn built 1870 – courtesy of Tweed Regional Museum

Like many of the hotels around those times, the Junction Inn was destroyed by fire in 1926.  The Junction Hotel located on the southern bank, 1872-1882, and Royal Hotel, 1886-1911, located where the General Store now stands, both closed when their licenses were not renewed.

The Skinner Brothers, George and Charles, started making cordials at North Tumbulgum on the Rous River using sugar from Inglewood and surrounding farms in 1880, making it the first “paddock to bottle enterprise” on the Tweed.


Today we can still enjoy a cold drink at the Tumbulgum Tavern, established in 1887 as the Metropolitan Hotel and now the oldest pub still in operation in the Tweed.  Husk Distillers, established 2012 in North Tumbulgum, have resurrected the paddock to bottle beverage philosophy, offering a range of alcoholic beverages made from plantation sugar cane.  With recent awards to their credit, the future looks bright for Tumbulgum’s Husk Distillers.

The People of Tumbulgum

There is no doubt the most famous of those who have called Tumbulgum home, is Faith Bandler.  On Faith’s passing, the Sydney Morning Herald published the story of her inspiring life.  Following is an excerpt.

Faith Bandler (nee Mussing)

Faith Bandler

Faith Bandler, Tumbulgum.   Photo: Patrick Cummins

Born Tumbulgum, New South Wales. Civil rights activist, 23 September 1918 –  13 February 2015.

Faith Bandler changed people’s hearts and minds in support of human rights and social justice. Her smile, no doubt, helped. The National Trust listed her as a national living treasure in 1997 and the Herald, in 2001, included her among the 100 most influential Australians of the 20th century.

Her greatest achievement was her 10-year campaign for Aboriginal rights leading to the 1967 referendum which changed the Constitution and included Aborigines in the census.

Sydney Morning Herald February 14 2015

Henry Skinner

See Skinner Reserve on Dulguigan Road.

Tweed Regional Mus

Tweed Regional Museum

Henry Skinner first came to the Tweed to work for Joshua Bray and Samuel Grey in 1863. Some time between 1868 and 1869 he selected land at Tweed Junction (North Tumbulgum) were his family farmed and settled. The Skinner farm was known as “Inglewood”. Henry and his wife Isabella both lived out their days at “Inglewood”. Henry died in 1895 and Isabella in 1908. Both are buried at the Historic Cemetery at North Tumbulgum.

Henry Skinner and his family were industrious, growing sugar cane, and building a saw mill, boats, sugar mill and a cordial factory on Inglewood.

It was delivery of the cordial by the Skinner Brothers, Chad and Charles that led them into boating. First a row boat, then the acquisition of their first River Steamer, the “Florrie” to deliver mail and cordial between Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah. The next to be added to the Skinner fleet was called the “Pearl” was built at Inglewood on the Rous River by Alf Settree Snr, 1889. Other boats include the “Uki”, “Mystery”, “Magnet” “Mibbin”, “Booyong” (built were Budd Park is today) and “Emma Pyers”


SS Mibbin at Tumbulgum

Skinner river boats provided the main means of communication and transport between Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah for many years.

Alexander Logan

Alexander and Eliza Logan moved to the Tweed late 1869 after land at Tweed Junction was granted to Alexander for his services to shipping. In 1869 Logan built the “Junction Inn”, a wharf and boat slip at Tweed Junction . In 1872 he built a shop and post office with residence on top.

Eliza Logan ran the Tweed Junction post office from 1 September 1872.

In 1869 Logan had Rock Davis build the Ketch Maggie Logan at Brisbane Waters.

Farmers on the Tweed River found growing conditions in the valley very good however getting crops to market was challenging. With the arrival of Alexander Logan came the ketch Maggie Logan. The Maggie Logan shipped Maize from the Tweed river to market in Brisbane. It arrived in Brisbane from the Tweed River on 18 October 1869 first sailed by Captain George Webster. By August 1870 the Maggie Logan was captained by Alexander Logan. Other ships, including the Sarah and Jane, and Alma were shipping Maize from the Tweed River to Brisbane markets and bringing much needed cash to the Tweed.

Logan sold the Maggie Logan 1873 when steam driven ships were replacing sail on the Tweed to Brisbane route and the price of maize dropped to a level where it was no longer a viable crop. The Maggie Logan sank in Trinity Bay (near Cairns) 12 November 1892

By 1870 the population of the Tweed Valley had grown to 447 people and then dropped to about 100 people as farmers struggled to find markets for their produce and the price of maize fell dramatically. Sydney was too far away for much of what the farmers could grow and access to Queensland markets was restricted by duties and tariffs.

Charles Brady

Sericulture, Silkworm Farming at North Tumbulgum.

Charles Brady was born August 1, 1819 to Anthony Brady and Marianne (Perigal) Brady. Charles is the brother of Sir Antonio Brady, (1811-1881) an English Naturalist. Charles Brady was granted land from Mayes Hill to the Rous River to undertake a sericulture (silkworm) industry in Australia. His plantation called ‘Antony’, was established in 1873. The quality of the “grain” and cocoons was considered to be very good however Brady’s enterprise never developed into a commercial industry on the Tweed.  Brady’s wife Margaret (Cook) Brady died at Antony 26 May 1887. In this area and along Dulguigan Road we see many mulberry trees, perhaps descendants of those planted on the silkworm farm at ‘Antony’.


Faces of Tumbulgum

Families enjoying a sunny day by the river, walkers in the moonlight, a young boy throwing sticks into the river for his dog, ladies enjoying a high tea, regulars sharing a yarn at the bar, neighbours having a bbq on the riverside, art lovers and tourists browsing the gallery and strolling the streets, photographers snapping friends with the iconic Mt Warning backdrop, workers rushing in for a coffee or lunch, visitors enjoying water sports, cyclists, history buffs, people of all ages, from all places; we are all the Faces of Tumbulgum.  Welcome All!

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