The friendly country village of Bungendore lies perfectly in between the east coast and the nation’s capital. Despite its proximity to Canberra, the country town still maintains a strong rural feel and a relaxed bush village atmosphere.
Known for its unique gift shops and galleries, charming cafes and award-winning cool-climate wines, the town provides visitors with a sweet escape from city life. The streets of Bungendore are lined with old stone buildings, reminders of its colourful past. With a quick stroll through the town’s main streets, you will get an invaluable glimpse of the town’s journey from the 1800s to present day.
Before the arrival of European settlers, the area was occupied by the Ngarigo people. In 1820, however, Dr Charles Throsby and his party reached the area while looking for the Murrumbidgee River.
The first property in the area was established by Captain Richard Brooks at Turallo Creek in 1824. The same year, botanist and explorer, Allan Cunningham, recorded an outstation in the area called ‘Bungadow’ while passing through the region. Consequently, ‘Bungadow’ is believed to be the origins of the name ‘Bungendore’. Within a year of his visit, European settlers arrived and a station was established in the area.
About eleven years later, a town started to emerge with Bungendore officially recognised a few years later in 1837. Around this time, the settlement became an important crossroads connecting Goulburn, Braidwood, Queanbeyan and Cooma.
In 1838, a lock-up was constructed and the Harp Inn, now known as the Lake George Hotel, was established. Although the licence has been held non-stop ever since the hotel’s establishment, the building has gone through many changes over time.
Even though mail started arriving ever since 1836 as the town became part of the Queanbeyan coach route, the first post office wasn’t built until 1840. The 1840s also saw the establishment of the first Anglican Church in town as well as the opening of the Bungendore Inn in 1847. The inn later became a Cobb & Co staging post, but these days only fragments of it remain.
In 1851, the population of the district was mere 63, but after decades of more hotels, a flour mill, school and churches being built, the population started increasing. In fact, the population increased from 270 in 1881 to 700 by 1885. That same year, the railway arrived into town, and remained the railhead until the line reached Queanbeyan a couple of years later.
In the 1900s, Bungendore was suggested as the site of the future national capital. The latter half of the century saw a number of tourism-oriented businesses spring up in town, including fine art and craft studios, coffee shops and restaurants. The first vines in the region were planted in the ‘70s, and the staple attraction of the town, Bungendore Wood Works Gallery, was opened in 1983. To this day, arts, crafts and wineries are the main attractions in town, drawing visitors back to this charming town again and again.