Travelling Australia - Journal 2012
8-11 March 2012 - Inverell
Inverell is the service centre for part of New England and contains a wide range of shops and businesses. The town is neat and tidy and gives the impression that somebody cares about its appearance. There are various claims concerning population; display boards at the entrance to the town claim a population of 12,000 but the 2006 census population figure is 9,749. But population of a town is not the only determinant of size and scope of business in the town; another important factor is the distance to other, competing, population centres and Inverell is fairly isolated so businesses are able to grow to service the town and surrounding properties. Inverell is the headquarters of Inverell Shire formed in 1979 by amalgamation of three previous shires.

Inverell is on the McIntyre River. Average annual rainfall is 800 millimetres, wettest months are December to February. Average maximum temperature is 22.7° with January (29.5° average maximum) as the warmest month; average minimum temperature is 10.3° with July the coolest month (4.8° average minimum).

The name Inverell comes from a nearby property (Inverell Station) held by Alexander Campbell in 1848. The word is said to be of Gaelic origin based on "inver", a meeting place, and "ell", a swan, (some sources claim the name is based on aboriginal words). The town was surveyed in 1858 and Inverell post office opened in 1859.

The town initially grew as a support centre for the surrounding agricultural area until tin and diamonds were found in the area and Inverell became the centre for government departments dealing with tin, diamonds, lead and silver. Mining service industries grew as well as housing for workers in the mines. Diamonds were mined from 1883-1922. Commercial sapphire mining began in 1919 at Frazers Creek but large mining companies became involved in the 1950s. Large and small miners worked sapphire deposits and for a while Inverell became the largest producer of sapphires in the world. Sapphire mining is still carried out but on a much smaller scale and individual gem fossickers seem to do most of the sapphire mining now. Tin was mined in the area until the tin cartel collapsed in the 1980s and tin mining ceased.

Early government action to break up the large agricultural holdings taken up by the initial selectors facilitated the growth of agriculture which was reflected in growth of the town. Soil types around Inverell are suitable for grazing sheep and cattle as well as growing a range of crops including wheat, barley, oats, sorghum, maize and wine grapes.

Originally Inverell's water came from bores and was regarded as a bit smelly. In 1937-38 a dam was built across the McIntyre River and fresh water piped from the reservoir (Lake Inverell). Since 1983 Inverell has drawn water from Copeton Dam which holds so much water that even a few per cent of remaining water is enough to supply Inverell for years.

Lake Inverell Reserve is now a wildlife refuge and recreation reserve and one of three woodland parks close to town. Baraymal National Park is immediately adjacent to Inverell Reserve while Goonoowigall State Conservation Area is about five kilometres out of town along the Tingha road. These woodland parks provide above-average access for visitors to bush-walking, bird and plant study areas.

The railway line to Inverell was opened on 10 March 1902 and the last train ran on 22 June 1987; the section of line to Inverell was closed on 2 December 1987.

Inverell has a large, well-equipped Visitor Information Centre and takes tourism seriously.

Inverell Shops Business buildings in Inverell shopping centre.

Inverell Court House Inverell Court House.

Fountain Fountain in the McIntyre River