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Muswellbrook
New South Wales
Muswellbrook Steeple - panoramio.jpg
Hope City Church
Muswellbrook is located in New South Wales
Muswellbrook
Muswellbrook
Coordinates 32°15′55.5″S 150°53′18.5″E / 32.265417°S 150.888472°E / -32.265417; 150.888472Coordinates: 32°15′55.5″S 150°53′18.5″E / 32.265417°S 150.888472°E / -32.265417; 150.888472
Population 16,000 (2021)
Established 1833
Postcode(s) 2333
Elevation 220 m (722 ft)
Location
LGA(s) Muswellbrook Shire
State electorate(s) Upper Hunter
Federal Division(s) Hunter

Muswellbrook ( MUSS-əl-bruuk) is a town in the Upper Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia, about 243 km (151 mi) north of Sydney and 127 km (79 mi) north-west of Newcastle.

Geologically, Muswellbrook is situated in the northern parts of the Sydney basin, bordering the New England region.

The area is predominantly known for coal mining and horse breeding, but has also developed a reputation for gourmet food and wine production. As at June 2018 Muswellbrook has a population of 12,364. Located to the south of the Muswellbrook township are two coal fuelled power stations, Liddell and Bayswater. They were commissioned in 1973 and mid 1980s respectively and employ approximately 500 people from the area.

History

Before European settlement of the region the Wonnarua and Kamilaroi peoples occupied the land. The first European to explore the area was Chief Constable John Howe in 1819, with the first white settlement occurring in the 1820s. The township of Muswellbrook was gazetted on October 23 1833. To the south, "Forbestown" was established by the sons of Francis Forbes in 1842; the name was changed in 1848 to "South Muswellbrook" to prevent confusion with the town of Forbes.

Etymology

"Mussel Creek" (now called "Muscle Creek") was first named by a party of surveyors who found mussels in the small stream while camping along its banks in the early 19th century. The present spelling of Muswellbrook has a disputed etymology. Historians largely subscribe to one of two theories:

  • that the name derives from the Muswell Hill area of London (England), due to the influence of Sir Francis Forbes whose wife, Amelia, was born and schooled in that town; or
  • that the name is a gradual corruption of the original gazetted name :Musclebrook", eventually adopted as the official spelling due to common use.

Transport

Muswellbrook lies at the junction of the Main Northern railway line and the Merriwa line, part of a cross country rail line to Gulgong. As such, it formed an important junction, as well as serving the numerous coal mining sidings found within a short distance from the main station building.

The New England Highway currently passes through the town. A route was selected for a bypass in 2006 but the Australian Government suspended the project in August 2008. Denman Road provides a connection to the Golden Highway.

Muswellbrook railway station, is serviced by local and long-distance rail services, interstate coaches and local bus services.

Popular culture

  • The Steely Dan song "Black Friday" from the 1975 album Katy Lied contains the lyric "When Black Friday comes, I'll fly down to Muswellbrook". Band member Donald Fagen explained the line in an interview with Paul Cashmere of Undercover Music; "I think we had a map and put our finger down at the place that we thought would be the furthest away from New York or wherever we were at the time".
  • Muswellbrook is also mentioned in Thomas Keneally's book The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith
  • Muswellbrook is also mentioned in the 1980 Australian Film, "Fatty Finn", where one of the characters remarks, "Things are crook, in Muswellbrook".

Annual events

  • Blue Heeler Film Festival
  • Muswellbrook Carnivale
  • Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter Eisteddfod
  • Muswellbrook Creative Arts Fair
  • NAIDOC Week Art Awards
  • St Heliers Heavy Horse Field Days

Military History

During World War 2, Muswellbrook was the location of RAAF No.5 Inland Aircraft Fuel Depot (IAFD), completed in 1942 and closed on 29 August 1944. Usually consisting of 4 tanks, 31 fuel depots were built across Australia for the storage and supply of aircraft fuel for the RAAF and the US Army Air Forces at a total cost of £900,000 ($1,800,000).

Notable persons

  • Kurt Barnes (born 1981), a professional golfer, was born and raised in Muswellbrook
  • Brooke Boney (born 1987), entertainment reporter on the Nine Network's breakfast program Today
  • James Clifford (1936–1987), an artist, was born and raised in Muswellbrook
  • Tommy Emmanuel AM (born 1955), a virtuoso guitarist, was born in Muswellbrook
  • Jamie Feeney (born 1978), a rugby league footballer was born in Muswellbrook
  • Wayne Harris (born 1960), a jockey who rode Jeune to victory in the 1994 Melbourne Cup, was born and raised in Muswellbrook
  • Shayne Hayne (born 1967), a rugby league football referee, grew up and spent most of his life in Muswellbrook
  • Donald Horne AO (1921–2005), an author and journalist, was raised in Muswellbrook. Much of one of Horne's memoirs, The education of young Donald, published in 1967, was based on his educative years in Muswellbook
  • Simon Orchard (born 1986), an Australian hockey player and Olympic medalist, was born and raised in Muswellbrook
  • Brydie Parker (born 1999),a rugby league footballer for the Sydney Roosters NRLW side, was born in Muswellbrook.
  • Fletcher Baker (born 1999),a rugby league footballer for the Sydney Roosters NRL side, was born in Muswellbrook.
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