Towns in Australia

Exploring Australia, town by town

Pambula NSW


Postcode: 2549

Pambula is located 473 km south of Sydney via the Princes Highway on the far south coast of New South Wales, Australia in Bega Valley Shire. Pambula is an historic village with its first European settlers thought to have been the Imlay brothers in the 1830s. In the late 19th century, gold was discovered at nearby Yowaka River and this created something of a boon in the town. By the early 20th century, production of gold had ceased and the prosperity of the town went into a decline. Pambula is derived from the Dharwa name for the area, pronounced “panboola'”, meaning “place of one water hole”.

The residents of the early town realised they had settled on a flood plain when the river overflowed its banks in 1851. Over time the centre of settlement shifted to higher ground. Typical of the problems was the Pambula Cemetery. The original site, east of the Highway and still marked by an enclosure around some remaining graves, was prone to flooding and many of the older headstones were shifted to the new site.

The discovery of gold at Kiandra gave the town a boost. Timber, maize, wattlebark, dairying and oyster farming (commencing 1891) were important aspects of the economy in the late nineteenth century but it was the discovery of gold on the banks of the Yowaka River in 1888 which provided the greatest excitement.

According to legend the two prospectors who discovered the gold had decided to abandon their fruitless search and it was only on the way back to town, when they washed the dirt they had gathered, that they made their discovery. By 1891 there were eleven mining companies in operation at the Mount Gahan site.

In the early years of the twentieth century the town’s prosperity and population went into a decline as the local dairying, maize and wattlebark industries encountered difficulties and gold production virtually ceased around 1915. Because it has changed little this century, modern day Pambula has retained some of its old-fashioned charm.