Junee (map) is a small town and local government area situated on the Olympic Way and the main southern railway line, 40 km northeast of Wagga Wagga, southwest of Cootamundra, approximately 470 km southwest of Sydney and 220 km northwest of Canberra (population circa 6000). Its name originates from the local Aboriginal phrase 'speak to me'.
Initially a pastoral lease, Junee grew as a town during the gold rushes that took place in the area from mid 1860 to mid 1880. It became prosperous from the early 1880s when the main railway line from Sydney to Melbourne was built through the centre of Junee vastly increasing agricultural trade.
The railway defined the character of Junee for nearly 100 years. Evidence of this exists in hotels and railway buildings that are still faithfully maintained in accordance with architectural standards of their day. While the railway still contributes to the local economy, its contribution has reduced since the 1970s. Many locals credit A J J (John) Thompson, appointed as town clerk in 1970, as the 'Father of Modern Junee' for his vision of the town's future and for taking the hard decisions that were needed to keep the town alive. This period saw Junee accept that income from the railways was on the decline and that growth was going to come from diverse areas. Land was allocated for new development and housing with assistance from the State Government. Local producers were encouraged to diversify and increase the quality of their produce. New businesses were sought for the town. As a result, Junee is now known for its lamb and high quality crops of wheat, canola, oats, barley and triticale. A manufacturing sector has also evolved with emphasis on steel engineering, meat processing and organic flour.
Junee Shire incorporates the communities of Bendure, Bethungra, Bethungra South, Bute, Coreena, Coursing Park, Dirnaseer, Downside, Erin Vale, Eurongilly, Harfield, Illabo, Ironbong, Junee, Junee North, Junee Reefs, Marinna, Marrar, Mitta Mitta, Nangus, Old Junee, Retreat, Retreat East, Rock View, Wallacetown, Wantabadgery, Wantiool and Yathella.
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