Muswellbrook, New South Wales

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New South Wales
Muswellbrook South
Muswellbrook is located in New South Wales
Coordinates32°16′S 150°54′E / 32.267°S 150.900°E / -32.267; 150.900Coordinates: 32°16′S 150°54′E / 32.267°S 150.900°E / -32.267; 150.900
Population12,364 (2018)[1]
Elevation220 m (722 ft)
LGA(s)Muswellbrook Shire
State electorate(s)Upper Hunter
Federal Division(s)Hunter

Muswellbrook is a town in the Upper Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia,[2] 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.[3]

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.[1] 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.


Before European settlement of the region the Wonnarua and Gamilaroi peoples occupied the land.[4] 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 23 October 1833.[5] 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.[6]

Heritage listings[edit]

Muswellbrook has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


"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:

  1. 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
  2. that the name is a gradual corruption of the original gazetted name "Musclebrook", eventually adopted as the official spelling due to common use.[15]


According to the 2016 census of Population, there were 12,075 people in Muswellbrook.[16]

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 9.3% of the population.
  • 84.9% of people were born in Australia. The most common countries of birth were New Zealand 1.4%, England 1.2% and Philippines 0.9%.
  • 87.7% of people only spoke English at home.
  • The most common responses for religion were Anglican 27.8%, Catholic 24.5% and No Religion 23.5%.[16]


Muswellbrook lies at the junction of the Main Northern railway line and the Merriwa line, part of a cross country rail line to Gulgong.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19] Denman Road provides a connection to the Golden Highway.

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

Popular culture[edit]

The Steely Dan song "Black Friday" from the 1975 album Katy Lied contains the lyrics:

"When Black Friday comes,

I'll fly down to Muswellbrook, gonna strike all the big red words from my little black book.

Gonna do just what I please, gonna wear no socks and shoes, with nothing to do but feed

all the kangaroos."

Songwriter Donald Fagen explained the lyrics 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".[20]

Muswellbrook is also mentioned in Thomas Keneally's book The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith.

Annual events[edit]

  • Blue Heeler Film Festival[21]
  • Muswellbrook Carnivale[22]
  • Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter Eisteddfod[23]
  • Muswellbrook Creative Arts Fair
  • NAIDOC Week Art Awards
  • Noisy Heerler Music Festival (October)
  • St Heliers Heavy Horse Field Days[24]


  • Muswellbrook South Public School[25]
  • Muswellbrook Public School[26]
  • St James Muswellbrook[27]
  • Muswellbrook High School[28]
  • Muswellbrook Pre School Kindergarten[29]
  • Muswellbrook Christian School[30]
  • Little Kindy Muswellbrook[31]

Military history[edit]

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 (A$1,800,000).[32]

Notable persons[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2017-18: Population Estimates by Significant Urban Area, 2008 to 2018". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2019. Estimated resident population, 30 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Muswellbrook". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 26 March 2009. Edit this at Wikidata
  3. ^ "untitled image". New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  4. ^ Fiona McBurney. "Aboriginal people of Muswellbrook Shire – Muswellbrook Shire Council". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  5. ^ Exercise book Historical notes - hand-written, indexed in back
  6. ^ "Muswellbrook Town Historical Walk". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  7. ^ "Muswellbrook Post Office (Place ID 106128)". Australian Heritage Database. Department of the Environment. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  8. ^ "Weidmann Cottage". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00260. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Loxton House". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00185. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Eatons Hotel & St Vincent De Paul Group". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00331. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  11. ^ "{{{2}}}". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Rous Lench". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00211. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  13. ^ "St. Alban's Anglican Church". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H00458. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Muswellbrook Railway Station and yard group". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01208. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  15. ^ Fiona McBurney. "The naming of our town as 'Muswellbrook'". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  16. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Muswellbrook (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 6 September 2017. Edit this at Wikidata
  17. ^ "Merriwa Branch". Retrieved 3 December 2006.
  18. ^ Muswellbrook up to the Early 1950s Estell, D. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, April 1997 pp99-106
  19. ^ "Muswellbrook Bypass". Archived from the original on 5 December 2005. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
  20. ^ Cashmere, Paul (8 April 2007). "The Steely Dan Interview: Paul Cashmere Talks to Donald Fagen". Undercover Media Pty Ltd. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
  21. ^ "HOME – Muswellbrook Shire Council". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  22. ^ "Muswellbrook Carnivale... in spring". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  23. ^ "Muswellbrook & Upper Hunter Eisteddfod Inc". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  24. ^ "St Heliers Heavy Horse Field Days Inc. – St Heliers Heavy Horse Field Days". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  25. ^ "Home – Muswellbrook South Public School". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  26. ^ "Home – Muswellbrook Public School". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  27. ^ "St James' Primary School, Muswellbrook". St James' Primary School, Muswellbrook. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  28. ^ "Home – Muswellbrook High School". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  29. ^ "Muswellbrook Pre School". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  30. ^ "Muswellbrook Christian School". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  31. ^ "Little Kindy Muswellbrook". Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  32. ^ Australia. Royal Australian Air Force. Historical Section (1995), Logistics units, AGPS Press, ISBN 978-0-644-42798-2
  33. ^ "Player Profile: Kurt Barnes". Golf Australia. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  34. ^ "Player Profile: Kurt Barnes". Golf Australia. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  35. ^ Germaine, Max (1984). Artists and Galleries of Australia. Brisbane, Australia: Booralong Publications.
  36. ^ "Tommy Emmanuel". Australian Music Database. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  37. ^ "Jamie Feeney – Career Stats & Summary". Rugby League Project. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  38. ^ "Wayne Harris made Muswellbrook race club life member". ThoroughbredNews. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  39. ^ Magnay, Jacqueline (13 June 2007). "Hayne has chosen his side already". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  40. ^ "Horne, Donald Richard". Muswellbrook Shire Hall of Fame. Muswellbrook Visitors Centre. 2005. Archived from the original on 25 April 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013.
  41. ^ "Athlete Spotlight". Australian Institute of Sport. Australian Sports Commission. 2 August 2010. Archived from the original on 6 December 2011. Retrieved 16 March 2012.

External links[edit]