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Holbrook - submerge yourself In the submarine town

Holbrook is well known as the Submarine Town and has a long affiliation with the Submarine Service in Australia. From its initial connection when the town was named after Commander Holbrook a British submariner who was the first submariner to be awarded the Victoria Cross Medal. In memory of our town's namesake the Submarine Connection has continued to evolve and Holbrook is now home to a replica B11 submarine, the above waterline section of the HMAS Otway and most recently a replica AE2 submarine. Explore the Holbrook and Submarine's story at the Holbrook Submarine Museum and learn all about the Australian Submarine Service.

Did you know that Holbrook is the home of the lagerphone, the iconic Aussie Bush instrument? The tale of an old bush rabbiter and his homemade ‘lagerphone’ at a local talent show is told in the Woolpack Inn Museum, a quirky tale that won’t be found elsewhere. See machinery from the past, the original Holbrook Bakery Building and remnant’s of Holbrook’s history.

You’ll also find the National Museum of Australian Pottery in Holbrook. This unique museum is home to an amazing collection of Australian Pottery, from convict pottery right up to current works. The stories behind some of Australia’s earliest convict potters is truly something to see. 

Wander down the main street of Holbrook and you will find an array of shops from books, antiques, crafts and curios. You never know what kind of treasure or specialist item you will find.

 

Experience Holbrook

  • visit Submarine Park and walk along HMAS Otway, view AE2, go through the Submarine Museum and view an amazing 3D hologram depicting the exploits of Lieutenant Commander Holbrook, submarine components and mock areas of the submarine interior such as control room and living quarters and working periscope. 

  • Visit Woolpack Inn Museum - Provides a wonderful display evoking the pioneering past of Holbrook in themed rooms. There is also an extensive display of early transport and machinery used in the district, and several outside buildings which have been reconstructed on site. 

  • Visit National Museum of Australian Pottery - Dedicated to 19th and early 20th century Australian Pottery. Over 1600 pieces are on display from over 120 Australian pottery companies. 

  • take a ride on Holbrook’s Miniature Railway, located in the beautiful Ten mile Creek gardens. The train runs on the second and fourth Sunday of each month throughout the year, every Sunday during School holidays, and by arrangement for parties, school groups and tourist coaches.

  • relax in Holbrook’s great parks including Ten Mile Creek gardens, Submarine Park and Gallipoli Victoria Cross Park.

  • take a walk along Ian Geddes Bushwalk located on the western side of the highway, behind Holbrook Shire Hall. This lovely tranquil bushland walk follows Ten Mile Creek and includes a map of the walk and the names and pictures of the birds you may encounter as you meander along the trail.

  • stroll along Albury Street and enjoy historic buildings of a bygone era such as the Court House, Police Station and Knox Uniting Church or St Paul’s Anglican Church.

  • go for a skate in the skate park at Submarine Park.

  • Take in a round of golf, go for a swim, play a set of tennis or go bowling.

​Visitor Information Point in Holbrook

Woolpack Inn Museum
83 Albury Street, Holbrook
P  (02) 6036 2131
E  [email protected]
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About and History

Holbrook is situated approximately half way between Melbourne and Sydney on the Hume Highway and is primarily a service centre for the surrounding region and visiting highway traffic.

 

The Wiradjuri tribe called the Ten Mile Creek, “Thug-wug-minnia-binnis” or “Thug-wug-mungyel-bingyel”, meaning something like “jumping waters” or “something to do with rock wallabies”. Hume & Hovell were the first white men to disturb their hunting and fishing land, when they crossed into the region from Tumbarumba on 10 November 1824. They likened the area to Camden Forest and called the highest point Friday Mount (Mt Pleasant). The Rev John Joseph Therry was the first white man licensed to settle in the Holbrook area, being granted the “Billy Bong” lease in January 1837, which covered an area of 6400 acres, including the site of the present township of Holbrook, with its headquarters at “Yarra Yarra.’’

 

The first to settle on the present site of Holbrook were John and Elisabeth Mitten who squatted on the north bank of the Ten Mile Creek in early 1838. On 26 June 1839 John was granted a publican’s licence for the Woolpack Inn.

 

On 29 July 1840, Johann Christopher Pabst, a German shepherd, was granted the licence of the Woolpack Inn. In 1840, travellers passing through the area referred to the hotel as “The Germans” or “John the German’s.” The township of Germanton was gazetted in 1876.

 

John Purtell built the Criterion Hotel (the present site of the Woolpack Inn Museum). During the gold rush to the Kiandra diggings in the 1860’s, the Pabst family kept a store and sold bread to the travellers. This was near the site of the Holbrook Hotel. With the influx of new settlers from the Robertson Land Act in the late 1860s, the Pabst family opened the Germanton Hotel on 2 November 1868.

 

The first Criterion Hotel was severely damaged by fire, twice, in April and September 1895. In November 1895 half of the Criterion Hotel was rebuilt, which included a shop, billiard room, bar and bathroom. In September 1913 the second story was added to the Criterion Hotel. The Criterion or “Bottom Pub” continued to trade until 30 June 1965, the last licensee was Kevin Murphy. February 1971 the Holbrook Promotion Committee purchased the building for a museum and the Woolpack Inn Museum opened its doors on 18 December 1971.

 

Why does Holbrook, a farming community 400km from the nearest seaport, have a life size submarine? In the Submarine Precinct lies the above water line superstructure of HMAS Otway. Located nearby is a 1/5 scale model of a World War I B11 Submarine dedicated in 1972, a statue commemorating Commander Norman D Holbrook which was unveiled in 1988, a life size Mark Viii Torpedo unveiled in 1992, Duck’s Arse installed in 1995 and in 2015 a replica of the AE2 (Australian Submarine launched 28 February 1914). Holbrook’s unique link with submarines began during World War I when the town’s forefathers believed Germanton was no longer an appropriate town name.

 

About that time, Lt Norman Holbrook’s name hit world headlines for the most daring underwater raid during World War I. Lt Holbrook, on 13 December 1914, had taken the British Submarine B11 on a hazardous journey into the Dardanelle’s to torpedo and sink the Turkish battleship “Mesudiye”.

 

Back in Germanton, Cr John Ross’ suggestion that Holbrook be a fitting name for the town was greeted with great enthusiasm and the first meeting of the newly named Holbrook Council took place on 24 August 1915. During the years following the name change, Commander Holbrook made a number of visits to the town before his death in 1976. In 1982 his widow, Mrs Gundula Holbrook donated his medals to the town, which were subsequently donated on loan to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra for preservation.

 

The unlikely link between the inland farming town and the RAN Submarine Squadron was developed by Holbrook between 1986 and 1992 when submariners were given Freedom of Entry to the shire.

 

In 1995 the Navy gifted Holbrook the fin of the decommissioned HMAS Otway. Subsequently, a working party was formed to investigate ways of obtaining a real submarine and overseeing its erection. Several thousand dollars was raised along with a generous gift from Mrs Gundula Holbrook to purchase the HMAS Otway. The structure was cut into sections and transported down the Hume Highway. The spectacular, traffic stopping inland submarine is a fitting memorial to those who serve and have served in submarines in both war and peace. An official dedication of the Submarine Memorial was staged on 7 June 1997 with Mrs Gundula Holbrook the official guest.

 

In 2013 Holbrook was the last town on the Hume Highway to be bypassed with convenient on and off ramps built at either end of the township, making Holbrook an easily accessible stopover for the weary traveller, with its relaxing parks, ample car, RV and van parking, petrol stations, super markets and excellent eateries. Also on offer are delightful antique and craft shops as well as interesting museums.

Excellent sporting facilities, including an equine centre, racecourse, indoor sporting complex, golf, bowls and swimming facilities provide for all sporting tastes.

 

Holbrook is also home to one of the most successful Landcare programs in Australia, having won many national awards.

 

The Holbrook airpark is particularly popular with ultralight pilots, and regularly sees pilots fly into its precinct in light planes from around the world.