Merriwagga is a small farming village situated on the Kidman Way, halfway between Goolgowi and Hillston. Merriwagga lays claim to be the very heart of the Black Stump Country (see legend below).
The village is home to the Black Stump Hotel which boasts the tallest bar in the southern hemisphere, standing a lofty 1.3 meters high. Local legend has it that the original publican built the bar this high so that local ringers could ride their horses right up to the bar!
The village of Merriwagga was surveyed and gazetted in 1924, following the construction of the railway line from Griffith to Hillston. Merriwagga was a small service centre and social hub for the surrounding farms. The name Merriwagga is believed to have come from it being on the south west corner of the (then) vast “Merri-Merrigal Station”, and close to a local watering hole, the Wagga Tank.
Visitors and travellers are welcome to make use of the toilet and picnic area located at the Merriwagga Park or across the road to the Black Stump BBQ area which features the Memorial to Pioneering Women. Maybe enjoy a cold drink at the Black Stump Hotel and hear the real legend of the Black Stump. Merriwagga also has a caravan park and museum at the Old School on the edge of the village.
A visit to the Black Stump Memorial will provide visitors with details of the gruesome tale that gave Black Stump Country its name. A bullocky passing through the area in 1886 left his wife, Mrs Barbara Blain to make camp for the night while he tended to his bollocks, the day was hot, windy and dusty, and while his wife prepared the evening meal, the campfire flared, causing her skirt to catch fire and she was burnt to death. When people expressed their sympathy, the bullocky simply said “When I returned, my wife was dead, she looked just like a black stump”.
And so the Black Stump legend was born. Markers can be found at the original site of this gruesome accident along Black Stump Road. Mrs Blain is buried in the old Gunbar Cemetery.
Across the road from the Black Stump Hotel is the Memorial to Pioneer Women, a Ron Clarke sculpture dedicated to the hardships endured by our pioneers when settling the land.
Learn more of the history of Merriwagga and its characters by following the heritage markers around the village or stop in at the Information Bay, located at Black Stump Park.
The Black Stump Memorial was officially opened on 14 November 1970 by Federal MP for Riverina, Al Grassby.