stories, photos, anecdotes….. sharing the past
There is tremendous diversity within the Parkes Shire in regards to various locations. While the township of Parkes may be the most populous in the Shire, it is certainly not the only residential centre. There are a number of significant towns and localities such as Peak Hill, Alectown, Bogan Gate, Cookamidgera, Tichborne, Goonumbla, Nelungaloo and Trundle to name a few. Another significant town within the Parkes Shire is Tullamore. Tullamore may be the town within the Shire that is the furthest to travel to from the town of Parkes, but it has a fascinating history and a unique impact on the Parkes Shire.
Parkes is known internationally for its annual Elvis Festival with Trundle getting more recognition for its annual ABBA Festival as well as its long-running Bush Tucker Day. Tullamore has its own annual festival and it has historical significance to its residents.The Tullamore Irish Festival celebrates not only all things Irish but highlights that the Parkes Shire town shares its name with an Irish town in county Offaly.
Early Days of Tullamore
With land being taken up in the Forbes district, the main stock of cattle were moving out further west looking for ideal locations to supply food and water. As the search for feed and water led to new country, it also meant many stock were straying away. In rounding up the stray cattle, many new areas were found. This migration and searching for cattle led stock men to a place that was first called Bullock Creek in 1870 (Clemens (1982) page 3). A post office was opened on April 1st 1890 called Bullock Creek (Source: Tullamore website). By 1895 the area was called Tullamore but for a while in between Bullock Creek was also called Gobondery. The post office was officially renamed Tullamore in 1895. George Tully, who came from Tullamore in Ireland, built a hotel and it was called “Tullie’s Exchange Hotel” (Source: Tullamore website) This hotel stands today and is known as the Tullamore Hotel. Ronald Clemens, known as “Ducky”, researched the history of Tullamore which he compiled into a book Tullamore: The Way It Used To Be (1982) Macquarie Publications: Dubbo. In his book, Clemens highlights the difficulties the sheep had in 1866 with dingoes. Many of these indigenous wild dogs were poisoned and shot so that the livestock of the early settlers were preserved. Another fact highlighted by Clemens is that the Aboriginal tribe living in the area were called the Bingis. They occupied approximately 300,000 acres and were one of the most ancient tribes but sadly the intrusion and practices of white men led to their extinction.
While George Tully was an influential Irishman in the area, there were others from Tullamore, Ireland. The Kerley family settled on a property which they named Tullamore Station. (Source: R. Clemens (1982) p6-7 and Tullamore website) The farm was established by brothers Peter and Thomas Kerley who brought a wealth of farming knowledge with them. They also brought along James Hamilton McColl whose influence in Tullamore went beyond his building skills. McColl built Tullie’s Exchange Hotel for George Tully. McColl managed the Burra Burra Station until 1920. Clemens describes how influential he was to the development of Tullamore:
[James Hamilton McColl] was the first man to build a hotel, stock and station agency and police station in Tullamore. McColl and Mr Kalms (stock and station agent) were responsible for establishing the first telephone system in Tullamore. Source: Tullamore: The Way It Used To Be by Ron Clemens (1982) Macquarie Publications: Dubbo page 18
The current Tullamore Hotel, which George Tully had built and originally called it “Tullie’s Exchange Hotel”. Tully was from Tullamore, Ireland and was one of the people who had influence on the name change from Bullock Creek to Tullamore. Source: VisitNSW website
Ireland in the Central West of New South Wales
Due to the strong links with Tullamore in Ireland, it was not totally unrealistic that the people of Tullamore decided to host an Irish festival. The first Tullamore Irish Festival was held on the Easter long weekend in 2004 and continues to this day. The inaugural festival drew over 1,000 people over the age of eleven years old. Children ten years and younger did not need to pay an entry fee and so there is no accurate figure for how many attended (Source: The Trundle Star 31st March 2004, page 1)
The 2016 Tullamore Irish Festival was the most popular one yet, with more than 2000 descending on Tullamore dressed in green and eager for a Guiness while watching some Gaelic football! Australian Idol 2006 winner, Damien Leith, was the headline act in a list of entertainment that included Peter Byrne, Saoirse, The BordererS and Narromine’s Irish dancing troupe Spreagadh na Rince. Source: Parkes Champion Post Wednesday March 30, 2016
According to the 2011 Census, Tullamore had a population of 211. While the population has had peaks and troughs, it remains a tight-knit community that supports the district and offers friendly hospitality to visitors.
A population that over the years has fluctuated due to the start, continuation, and then end, of the mining industry. A population that depends on grain crops, and pastoralism (sheep farming, sheep shearing). Hospital staff, Teaching staff, Shop Owners and keepers, Hospitality Workers, other conveniences such as swimming pool, library, etc all add to the everyday occupations. Above all, the people of Tullamore, as a community, uphold their town with solid beliefs, a people who care, warm hearts, strong backs, and many families that date back several generations giving it that image of a unique look, talk and vibe. And now becoming known for that great Irish Festival held at Easter each year, with folks coming from as far as Ireland.
Tullamore offers quality services with Tullamore Central School, Tullamore Library and a new hospital. With the community spirit within the town there are a number of clubs and services to be found Source: Tullamore website Tullamore Central School was one of few schools chosen to attend the Gallipoli Centenary. Another quirky claim to fame for Tullamore, it is the first town listed in the Australian version of the song “I’ve Been Everywhere, Man”
Parkes Champion Post presented a whole page special feature on the inaugural Tullamore Irish Festival. Source: Parkes Champion Post Friday April 2, 2004 page 4
The latest Tullamore Irish Festival was the biggest yet! Internationally renowned singer, Damien Leith (Australian Idol 2006 winner), headlined the entertainment. This was the special feature by the Parkes Champion Post Wednesday March 23, 2016 page 11
Another first for Tullamore – it became the first library in Australia to offer 24 hour service. To read more head to http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-11/24-hour-library-boosts-reading-in-regional-town/8411206
Parkes Shire Library would like to thank the following people for their assistance in making this post possible: Ron “Ducky” Clemens, Mel Alvey and the webmaster of the Tullamore website (www.tullamore.org.au) If you have stories or memories that you are willing to share about Tullamore and/or the Tullamore Irish Festival, please contact Parkes Shire Library via firstname.lastname@example.org so that they can be shared and kept for posterity on this blog. Alternatively you may leave comments on this page.