Queanbeyan is a city in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. It is a city overshadowed somewhat by its proximity to the Australian federal capital city of Canberra: it has effectively become a de facto district of the nearby capital city as it lies on the Australian Capital Territory border and is approximately 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Canberra’s CBD, Civic. The border itself is straddled by a railway line. The Queanbeyan River runs through Queanbeyan, near the centre of the city and this area surrounding the river boast some of the highest house prices in the district.

On Census night 2006, Queanbeyan had a population of 34,084 people, and has been said to be the fastest growing city in Southern NSW.

The town grew from a squattage held by ex-convict and inn keeper, Timothy Beard, on the banks of the Molonglo River, in what is now present day Oaks Estate. The name Queanbeyan is the anglicised form of ‘Quinbean’ – an Aboriginal word meaning “clear waters”.

Queanbeyan was officially proclaimed a township in 1838, with a population at that time of about 50. The local parish was also known by that name and later still the member for the electorate of Queanbeyan held a seat in the legislative assembly of the colony of NSW.

Some of the significant historic buildings still standing date from colonial days. Traces of gold were discovered in 1851 and lead and silver mines also flourished briefly. Settlers were harassed by bushrangers, of which James Shaw, William Millet, and John Rueben,  John Tennant, Jacky Jacky, Frank Gardiner and Ben Hall were some of the more notorious.

The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited (CBC, now part of the National Australia Bank) opened in Queanbeyan on 19 September, 1859. The Bank of New South Wales began service in Queanbeyan in 1878. The Golden Age (now The Queanbeyan Age) was Queanbeyan’s first newspaper and was founded in 1860 by John Gale. In 1880, the residence of John James Wright, the first mayor of Queanbeyan, was constructed along the edge of the Queanbeyan River. In 1982, that building became the Queanbeyan Art Centre.

The Salvation Army claimed an outpost in Queanbeyan in 1884. The corps building was erected close to the town centre on, what is now, Morrisett St. The original building is now used as the corps Family Store.

Queanbeyan, an increasingly successful primary producing district, was proclaimed a Municipality in February 1885 incorporating an area of 23 km². The railway reached Queanbeyan railway station in 1887 and it became the junction for the lines going to Canberra and Bombala. The town is served by the twice-daily Countrylink Xplorer service between Canberra and Sydney.

William James Farrer, the wheat experimentalist, established Queanbeyan’s reputation as an agricultural district with his famous “Federation” rust-free strain, developed on his property “Lambrigg” at Tharwa. Farrer’s work was only slowly recognised elsewhere in Australia, but local farmers supported him, particularly in his development of “Blount’s Lambrigg”, another strain which in 1889 gave hope to farmers after the disastrous season of 1887 when crops had failed after heavy Christmas rains.

At the height of its rural prosperity Queanbeyan boasted sixteen public houses and six flourmills powered by wind, water, horse and steam. The Royal Hotel on Monaro Street opened in 1926. Canberra was ‘dry’ from 1911 at the time of the territory’s foundation until 1928 when Federal Parliament had relocated from Melbourne. In that period many of the capital’s residents crossed the border to drink at one of Queanbeyan’s hotels.

By 1972, Queanbeyan had little difficulty in meeting the first basic requirement of city status; the population had risen to more than 15,000 and a future population of at least that number was assured. City status was accordingly granted on 7 July 1972. On 21 July, 1975, the Queen’s Bridge was opened. This bridge took pressure off the existing bridge in linking Monaro Street directly to the east. From 1982 to 1989, the Canberra Raiders rugby league team played their home games in Queanbeyan, at Seiffert Oval.

Queanbeyan is a regional centre providing the opportunity for people to work in Canberra and live in New South Wales. The city is home to a large shopping centre known as Riverside Plaza. Queanbeyan has most of the major fast food outlets including KFC and selected speciality stores. Queanbeyan has two government high schools, Queanbeyan High and Karabar High. Queanbeyan primary schools include Queanbeyan South Public School, Queanbeyan West Public School, Queanbeyan East Public School, Queanbeyan Public School, Jerrabomberra Public School and St. Gregory’s. Queanbeyan has a major hospital, ambulance station, indoor and outdoor swimming pool, community centre, public library and several parks.

Queanbeyan has two light manufacturing/industrial precincts centred on Gilmore Road and Yass Road. The Queanbeyan Solar Farm with 720 Solar Panels has a generating capacity of 50 kW, and is located in the Yass Road area.

Queanbeyan has a strong sporting culture. One of the major sports in Queanbeyan is Rugby League. The town has two teams, the Queanbeyan Blues and the Queanbeyan Kangaroos, of which the Blues is, as of 2006, the more powerful team. In addition, Queanbeyan has a successful Australian Rules Football team, the Queanbeyan Tigers, and a successful Rugby Union team, the Queanbeyan Whites, who secured two premierships in 2007 by claiming the first grade and colts titles. Queanbeyan has fostered many rugby superstars, including Ricky Stuart, David Campese, Matt Giteau, Matt Henjak, Anthony Faingaa and Saia Faingaa. Other sporting icons include Mark Webber, a Formula One driver, and local sporting heroes Terry Campese and Trevor Thurling who play for the neighbouring National Rugby League team the Canberra Raiders.

Queanbeyan includes a diverse range of Indigenous, African, European, Asian and Pacific cultures. Clubs and associations in Queanbeyan cater for many of these groups, including residents having Dutch, Macedonian, Italian or Mediterranean origins.

The Queanbeyan Show, which is now 111 years old, is held annually at the Queanbeyan Showgrounds in November over two days. There are equestrian events, a sideshow alley, art and craft displays, cooking exhibits, an agricultural pavilion and livestock exhibitions.

In February, the Queanbeyan Showgrounds play host to the annual ‘Convoy for Kids’ to aid cancer research. The event is widely supported by community groups, regional businesses and the emergency services. The event attracts hundreds of commercial vehicles, trucks, prime movers and bushfire brigade vehicles. The highlight of the afternoon is the sounding of horns, which can be heard for miles around. Other regular events throughout the year include the Rodeo in March, Field Days, and a camping and off-road vehicle show.

In March 2008, the Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre – the Q – became the new home for the Queanbeyan Players, who have provided over thirty years of live theatre and dramatic entertainment for the Queanbeyan community.

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