Time for lunch at “twin town” Harden – Murrumburrah, home of the First Australian Horse Regiment, on “The Gold Trail” to Forbes, NSW. We stopped at Barnes Store Emporium and Cafe in the building photographed above in Murrumburrah.
Lunch was great and so was the building and its history. We looked through the historic exhibition there (currently under development) and read more about the discovery of gold in the area in late 1850’s, anti-Chinese riots in nearby Lambing Flat 1860/1861 and many stories about the bushrangers led by Johnny Gilbert and Ben Hall.
The original owner of the Barnes Store, John Barnes, and the story of how he came to die at the hands of bushranger Johnny O’Meally and what happened after, is set out on signage across the road from the building. John Barnes’ sons, Thomas and George operated and expanded the business and stores called “T & G Barnes’s” stores, massively expanding the original store over time, at Murrumburrah. Whilst enjoying our lunch there, it was obvious to us that this building/cafe serves as a major meeting place. Art and craft is promoted and plenty of paper and supplies for children to do their own contribution to the art on a wall.
The Harden-Murrumburrah Historical Museum is housed in the 1912 School of Arts building.
Nearby, a war memorial featuring a sculpture of “Bill the Bastard” with five men on its back. This war horse weighed 730 kilograms and stood at 17 hands and would only allow one rider on him, but in 1916, Bill and his rider saved four others. The full size bronze sculpture to be erected in Murrumburrah, is still being worked upon and is able to be viewed in the sculpture’s studio nearby on Bathurst Street. Progress on the statue is dependent upon donations.