Ipswich is a homestead 3 miles to the east of Grenfell, south of the Mid Western Highway, off Dodds Lane, in Weddin Shire in central New South Wales. It is 225 miles (362 km) west of Sydney, & 140 miles (226 km) north of Canberra. Its location is 33°55’ S 148°13’ E.
Population:- Ipswich falls within the census area of Grenfell. The population of this area in 2016 was 2,573.
How to get there:-
By road: From Sydney, head west on the National Route A32 to Bathurst, then turn left onto the Mid Western Highway/National Route 24 & continue until 3 miles east of Grenfell, before turning left down Dodds Lane. From Canberra, take National Route 23 northwards, then National Highway 25, National Highway 31 & State Route 81 to Boorowa. From there continue north on Murringo Gap Road/Chews Lane & turn right onto National Route 41. Turn left onto Bendick Murrell-Wirrimah Road, right onto Landra road, left onto Tyagong Hall Road, then right onto Henry Lawson Way until you reach Grenfell. From there head east on National Route 24, then turn right onto Dodds Lane.
By Rail: A passenger service ran to Grenfell until 1974, with the line closing completely between Greenethorpe and Grenfell in 1991. The nearest passenger station today is Koorawatha Junction on the Blayney-Demondrille line, some 30 miles east of Grenfell, This is mainly used for grain haulage, although heritage & tourist trains also operate on the line.
Canberra International Airport is around 130 miles away by road to the south east, whilst Sydney International Airport is approximately 250 miles away to the east.
Time Zone: Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT +10 hrs). Daylight saving time in summer + 1hr.
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Early Settlement & Derivation of Name
Prior to European settlement the Grenfell area was home to the Wiradjuri aborigines. John Wood pioneered farming in the Grenfell area in 1833. In 1866 one of his shepherds, Cornelius O’Brien, stumbled upon a gold bearing quartz outcrop. He secured a miner’s right; his claim yielded 4.5 ounces of gold per ton. This is the site on the Mid Western Highway now known as O’Brien’s Reef. Within six months of O’Brien’s find there were 10,000 people on the goldfields; a tent city and business centre rapidly grew along the banks of Emu Creek, which became the name of the town. In December 1866 the Gold Commissioner, John Granville Grenfell, was mortally wounded by bushrangers when he refused to stop the stagecoach carrying gold. Out of respect for his heroism, on 1st January 1867 the miners renamed the town as Grenfell.
Cornelius O’Brien had insufficient money to work his claim, and a company was eventually formed with O’Brien holding a one twelfth share. It proved the best mine on the fields and produced sixty thousand pounds of gold in the first three years. At the end of the original five year lease the claim was sold and a public company was floated to take it over. This site was eventually worked to a depth of 800 feet, the deepest of all mines in the Grenfell goldfields. The Grenfell goldfields were the richest gold mining fields in NSW during 1867-1871. However, as the easily worked reefs were soon depleted, the miners, lacking capital for deep-mining, moved away. In 1873 the population was down to 3,000, and by 1877 Grenfell’s goldfields were all but finished.
Wheat was first grown in the district in 1871, and with the decline of the mining industry, the surrounding lands reverted to agricultural development. Grenfell is now a country market town serving the needs of the neighbouring agricultural communities. It also has a thriving cultural and tourist trade.
Anthony Warren Hambly was born in Ipswich, England, in c.1837. He came to Australia in 1858 and first took up grazing in the Young area, southwest of Cowra in central New South Wales. There he met and married his wife, Charlotte Ransom, in 1863. When news of the gold strike at nearby Grenfell to the north of Young reached him in 1866, Anthony Hambly turned to gold mining. He made a successful find at O’Brien’s Reef, which gave him the resources to purchase sufficient land in 1868 to build a grazing ranch that he called Ipswich Station after his home town in England. Anthony Hambly became a successful businessman, and was involved in public affairs at Grenfell, becoming a Justice of the Peace. In February 1892 he retired to Leichhardt in Sydney where he died in October 1918 at the age of 80. His daughter Caroline and her husband, John Dodd, remained at Grenfell and continued the farm at Ipswich. It was subsequently sold and is presently owned by the agricultural company, DJ & CA Simpson. The address of this company is Ipswich, Grenfell, although it is sometimes shown as Ipswich St, Grenfell. There is no street of this name in that town. The abbreviation in this case stands for “Station”, a commonly used expression in Australia for a homestead.
There was another minor gold rush in 1895 around “Hambly’s farm” which continued for a few years, and there are records of births “in a tent at Ipswich, near Grenfell”. No doubt the population of this Ipswich was higher in 1900 than it is now as a consequence of the gold diggings.
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Ipswich is located in the Local Government Area (LGA) of Weddin Shire, in central New South Wales. It is bordered by the LGAs of Forbes Shire to the north, Cowra Shire to the east, Young Shire to the south & Bland Shire to the west. The council seat is at Grenfell, which is the only town of any significant size within the shire.
Historically, Grenfell & Ipswich are in Forbes County. The county was named in honour of Chief Justice Sir Francis Forbes (1784-1841). Today the counties of New South Wales have little official function other than for land titles and geographic surveying.
The area is an important locality for fish fossils dating from the Devonian Period (416 - 359.2 million years ago), which are found in the Hunter Siltstone outcrops in the hills around Grenfell.
Often called “Australia’s Greatest Writer”, author & poet Henry Lawson (1867 - 1922) was born on the Grenfell goldfields. His first published poem was A Song of the English which appeared in 1887. In 1892 The Drover's Wife was published, which is widely regarded as one of his finest short stories. His most successful prose collection While the Billy Boils was published in 1896. Much of his work is still available today, with the two volume Henry Lawson Complete Works appearing in 1984, & The Henry Lawson Collection Vols. 1 & 2 being published in 1994.
In 1949 Lawson was featured on an Australian postage stamp, & in 1966 he was depicted on the first (paper) Australian ten dollar note. First held in 1958, the town of Grenfell hosts The Henry Lawson Festival of Arts in June of each year.