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Henty - experience agricultural innovation

Originally named after the first property established in the area ‘Dudal Comer’ in 1866, after the construction of the railway line it was renamed ‘Henty’ in 1888 to commemorate the name of one of the district’s original settler families.  The home of the Headlie Taylor Header, it is worth turning off the Olympic Highway and over the railway line to explore this delightful town. The role of the town as the service centre for the surrounding district is highlighted at the Henty Machinery Field Days held in September every year, when they attract some 50,000 visitors over 3 days. There are a number of  shops in the town, and a full range of services are available.

Experience Henty

  • visit the Mini museum or Observer Printery Museum (watch the presses roll from yesteryear). 
  • view Headlie Taylor’s Header and Blacksmith’s Shop at Bicentennial Park, Olympic Highway. 
  • go bird watching at Henty Government Dam Nature Reserve or Doodle Cooma Swamp Nature Reserve.
  • stroll around the Henty Cemetery.
  • Visit Ed’s Old Farm Machinery Museum, hear of hardships and triumphs in agriculture.
  • take in the Henty Silos, which are the second oldest in country NSW, built in 1919 or the various well preserved heritage buildings.
  • pack a picnic hamper and enjoy the flora and fauna at Henty Government Dam Nature Reserve.

​Visitor Information Point in Henty

Doodle Cooma Craft Shop
Railway Station, Henty
P (02) 6929 3712
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About and History

Henty is geographically situated on the border of the South West Slopes and Riverina regions of New South Wales with an altitude of 240 m. Located midway between two of Australia’s greatest river systems, the Murray and the Murrumbidgee on the Olympic Highway (route of the 1956 Olympic Torch journey to Melbourne).

Around 1835 saw the establishment of agriculture in the district, followed by the arrival by wagon from South Australia of settlers of German descent in the late 1860s and its establishment as the town of Henty in the late 1880s following the construction of the railway. 

In 1888 the name Henty was proclaimed, named after Edward Henty (who had leased Round Hill Station to the south of Henty, in the early 1860s) after the original name of ‘Dudal Comer’ (pronounced Doodle Cooma, aboriginal for ‘Sweet Water’), led to confusion with the town of Cooma in the Monaro district. Henty is perched on the shore of an ancient ebb & flow wetland. For periods during the year the wetland is dry and only after heavy rain is the water visible. The wetland habitat covers 2,023.5 ha which now includes Doodle Cooma Swamp Nature Reserve and private land. Many ancient River Red gums (400 years) still stand and these attract a wide range of bird and animal life. Henty is known as the ‘Home of the Header’ due to agricultural innovations that revolutionised world agriculture. In 1914, a local farmer, Mr Headlie Taylor invented the header harvester which completely revolutionised the grain industry around the world. In 2009 an authentic header harvester and blacksmith’s shop were relocated to Bicentennial Park, Olympic Highway. Open every day with guided tours available by appointment. 

The Whitlock Plough, another local innovation, was superior to Australia’s famous ‘Stump Jump Plough’ though it is rarely recognised in Australia’s list of innovations.

The Henty Government Dam Nature Reserve is a delight for bird lovers, where up to 140 different bird species either make their home or migrate for the season. The Reserve is only 750 metres off the Olympic Highway (access along the Pleasant Hills Road). Two walking tracks through the reserve allow visitors to enjoy the native vegetation and regional wildlife. The Doodle Cooma Landcare Group have established a living seed bank from local species of flora. Still in its early stages, this site will become a mecca for those interested in Australian Flora & Fauna. Bird life brochures and information can be obtained from the Henty Library or Visitor information Points in Henty and in brochure boxes located at various sites around Henty, including the Government Dam Nature Reserve. 

During spring the district is a kaleidoscope of colour with fields of canola in full bloom for the Henty Machinery Field Days when thousands of people come from near and far to see the latest in agricultural displays. The Henty machinery Field Days were first held in 1963, and now, this small town, annually hosts a 3 day Field Day with approximately 50,000 people attending. It is the largest event of its kind in the country. 

Located between the towns of Henty and Culcairn on the Olympic Highway, is the Henty Man. This man was originally shaped by an itinerant worker in the early 1930’s from a tree burnt out by a Swagman’s fire. It became a district landmark until it was destroyed by natural elements about 20 years later. Prior to Henty’s Centenary in 1986, it was decided by local identities to restore “The Man”. At the Centenary celebrations it was dedicated by Cr Hugh McKay to the “Men of the road who, through no fault of their own had to walk the length and breadth of Australia during the Great Depression seeking work. Many being forced to beg for food to survive. Many then regained their dignity by defending Australia during World War II, some never to return. Others enjoyed the better days of the 1950’s and 1960’s.” 

With Henty’s rich heritage the Mini museum, (located beneath Henty’s IGA Supermarket), is a must see. Inside, you will find Henty’s past including the town’s old telephone exchange along with many items which will bring back memories for some, whilst to others, a new understanding of the past. The Observer Printery Museum located in Lyre Street (behind Sladen Street, Main Street of Henty) will allow you to understand and experience the way newspapers of yesteryear were developed and produced, with many of the old printing presses still in working condition. 

Refusing to succumb to the fate of many other small rural towns, Henty has an active community committed to the town’s development and was the first town in NSW to develop and successfully run its own bank, the Henty Community Bendigo Bank. Other recent developments include a community club, a hospital and nursing home, dedicated library with IT facilities and a Retirement Village, a striking testament to how rural communities can compete with their city and regional cousins for business and industry investment.