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Located between the Barwon and Namoi Rivers in the north western plains of New South Wales, Walgett takes its name from an Aboriginal word meaning 'the meeting of two rivers'. Part of the western plains explored by Charles Sturt in the 1820s, settlement began in the 1840s when a number of sheep farms and pastoral runs were established on the riverside land. One of the first settlers was Henry Cox who established the cattle run 'Wareena Estate' in 1849 and this would be the site that would become the town of Walgett.
With a port soon established on the Namoi River, Walgett became the commercial centre for surrounding farming districts and with the Robertson Lands Act opening up land in rural Australia in 1861 the town would enter a boom period. Despite drought severely affecting the success of wool production in Walgett, the industry would be boosted by a relatively unlikely source. In the interests in finding an easier and quicker way of shearing sheep, local farmer Frederick York Wolseley would revitalise the industry through developing the electric shears in 1880s. After several years of experimenting with different prototypes for mechanised shears on his farm, the final patent was released in 1887 and the following successful demonstrations around the country this revolutionary technology would be applied on sheep farms across Australia and New Zealand by the turn of the century.
Farming continues to provide an economic backbone for Walgett and as a community built on the success of its farming lands the drought prone region has seen land uses change significantly in the last 20 years. Cattle and sheep farming has decreased and whilst wheat and cotton crops remain prevalent in Walgett, the popularity of more drought hardy crops such as hay and lucernes have increased greatly.