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Pambula, New South Wales facts for kids

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New South Wales
Population 867 (2011 census)
Postcode(s) 2549
Elevation 10 m (33 ft)
LGA(s) Bega Valley Shire
County Auckland
Parish Pambula
State electorate(s) Bega
Federal Division(s) Eden-Monaro

Pambula /ˈpæmbjuːlə/ is a town in Bega Valley Shire on the far south coast of New South Wales, Australia 473 kilometres (294 mi) south of Sydney via the Princes Highway. At the 2006 census, Pambula had a population of 1,146 people.


The area was populated by the Thaua Aboriginal people, with shell middens dating back 3000 years. The name Pambula is derived from its Dharwa name, pronounced "panboola", meaning 'twin waters'. In 1797, the European voyager George Bass explored the area.

Pambula is a historic village with its first European settlers thought to have been the Imlay brothers who established cattle runs on the Pambula River flats in the 1830s. The village of Pambula situated on the flats near the river was planned in 1843 by surveyor Townsend and the first school and churches were built there, but frequent flooding led to the village being relocated to its present site on higher ground.

Captain John Lloyd, RN, acquired land in 1844 with his severance pay when he left the Royal Navy, and built The Grange on the hill near the river. At about that time he invited the family of Syms Covington to move there. Covington had joined the second survey expedition of HMS Beagle as a fiddler and cabin boy. He became an assistant and manservant to Charles Darwin during the voyage and for a few years afterwards before emigrating to Australia. In 1854 he became Postmaster of Pambula, and managed an inn called the Forest Oak Inn which still stands at a bend on the coast road.

The main land uses were grazing and agriculture, and tented accommodation on stock routes was replaced by slab and bark huts, then by more permanent buildings providing homes, housing, smithies, and hotels. Pambula had five licensed hotels by 1856 and the foundation stone for the courthouse was laid in 1860. Pambula was proclaimed a town in 1885.

In 1888, gold was discovered and villages grew up around the mines at nearby Yowaka River and Pipeclay Creek. This created a boom in the town, but in the early 20th century production of gold ceased and the prosperity of the town went into a decline.

William McKell, Premier of New South Wales 1947-1953, was born in Pambula in 1891.

Pambula continued to be the dominant town of the district, providing facilities which came to include commercial premises, banks, courthouse, hospital, newspaper, and a school of arts. Agriculture developed on the river flats, producing prize crops of maize and potatoes, and a dairying industry became established. Timber felling was carried out in the surrounding forests, and oyster farming was developed in the river.


Pambula is situated approximately 4 kilometres (2 mi) south of Merimbula and has its own hospital, a small supermarket, a community bank, and a primary school. The nearest secondary school is a private secondary school in nearby Pambula Beach. The nearest public secondary schools are in Bega and Eden.


Panboola, the Pambula wetlands heritage project, is located between the south edge of town and the Pambula River. Panboola contains fresh water billabongs, saline areas around the former racecourse, saltmarsh and mangroves, plantings of thousands of trees, shrubs and ground covers, walking and cycle tracks and tables and seats.

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