Manilla, New South Wales

Manilla is a small town in New South Wales, Australia, located on Fossickers Way 45 kilometres northwest of the regional city of Tamworth and 27 kilometres northeast of the historic village Somerton. At the 2006 census, Manilla had a population of 2,550 people.[1] Manilla is famous for its setting as a fishing and paragliding area and soon to be the destination for ABCs Triple J "one night stand" music festival. The name Manilla comes from the Gamilaraay language, and is said to mean 'winding river'.[2]

New South Wales
Clock tower in the main street
Coordinates30°45′0″S 150°43′0″E
Population2,550 (2016 census)[1]
LGA(s)Tamworth Regional Council
State electorate(s)Tamworth
Federal Division(s)New England

Manilla was established in the 1850s at the junction of the Namoi River and the Manilla River. It was formerly the centre of Manilla Shire local government area, but this was amalgamated with Tamworth City Council and portions of Parry, Barraba and Nundle Shire Councils to form Tamworth Regional Council in 2004. It lies next to the Bundarra-Barraba Important Bird Area which is important for the conservation of the critically endangered regent honeyeater. Manilla is also well known for Split Rock Dam on the Manilla River and Lake Keepit on the Namoi River.


  • Bowling Club
  • Caravan Park
  • Royal Hotel
  • Motel
  • Police Station
  • Post Office
  • Swimming Pool
  • Sportsground
  • Tennis Courts
  • War Memorial Hall, Library and Pre-School
  • Fuel Station & Cafe North Store - Manilla


The junction of the Manilla and Namoi Rivers was for generations, a camping ground for the local indigenous people, members of the large Kamilaroi (Gamilaraay) tribes of northwestern New South Wales. During the 1850s, teamsters with bullock waggons were regularly transporting goods from the Hunter District through the Manilla area to outlying cattle stations and the northern goldfield settlements of Bingara and Bundarra. Teams were often delayed at the junction of the Namoi and Manilla Rivers by high water. In 1853, enterprising Englishman George Veness arrived at ‘The Junction’ to set up a store and wine shop at the teamsters’ camping ground. In doing so, Veness led the way to town settlement and is acknowledged as the Founder of Manilla. The town's early prosperity was founded on the highly productive wheat and pastoral industries.

Manilla also features a new library centre. Located within the Tamworth Regional Council office in the main street of Manilla, the library is a new type of facility which is known globally as a convergence centre. This means there are many facilities on offer including Centrelink Agency, the Manilla Book Club, a free weekly Storytime for preschool aged children and many other community activities.

Australian singer-songwriter Darren Hanlon immortalised the town of Manilla in his song 'Manilla NSW' which appeared on his 2006 record, 'Fingertips and Mountaintops'.[3]

Heritage listings

Manilla has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:

Aviation sports

In recent years, Manilla has become famous throughout the world as a major sports flying centre supporting hang gliding, paragliding,[5] ultralight aircraft, gyrocopters and gliders (sailplanes).[6] It boasts nearby Mt Borah, one of the world's best paraglider and hang glider launch sites. In 1998 local paragliding instructor and developer of Mt Borah, Godfrey Wenness, gained the world distance record with a flight of 335 kilometres (208 mi). Major free-flight competitions are staged annually during the summer months. The 10th FAI Paragliding World Championships were held at the site in 2007, attended by 150 pilots from 41 nations. In the week prior to the event Manilla was in the headlines around the world for the survival of paraglider pilot Ewa Wiśnierska of Germany who was sucked up into a thunderstorm to 9,946 metres (32,631 ft). The dramatic story was made into a TV documentary Miracle in the Storm which won an AFI award and was nominated for a Logie Award.

Notable residents

  • Henry Burrell (1873-1945), an amateur naturalist, photographer & film-maker, began unlocking the secrets of the platypus.
  • Stan Coster (27 May 1930 – 25 March 1997), an Australian country music singer-songwriter.
  • Fiona Coote, aged 14, in 1994 became Australia's second and also its youngest heart transplant recipient.
  • Anna Henderson, an ABC News journalist.
  • Gavin Coote, an ABC News journalist
  • Dally Messenger (1883-1959), a rugby league and rugby union player. He came to Manilla in 1917 and held the licence of The Royal Hotel.
  • Rod Coote, an Australian indie-pop music singer-songwriter
  • Harry M. Miller, entrepreneur, bought the Manilla property "Dunmore" in the 1970s.
  • John Quayle, former Australian Rugby League CEO, began playing rugby league with Manilla as a boy.
  • Anne Rouen, an historical fiction author.[7][8][9][10]
  • Godfrey Wenness ASM (1967), paragliding pilot and instructor, developed the Mt Borah airsports facility and school in 1994. Guinness Book of World Records for the longest flight in a paraglider in 1998 (335 km). Australian Sports Medal (2000).
  • Flopp Fletcher - Environmental Campaigner.

Notes and references

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Manilla (State Suburb)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  2. "Manilla". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW. Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 27 October 2009.
  3. "Darren Hanlon Discography". Darren Hanlon. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  4. "Manilla railway underbridges". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01045. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  5. Fly Manilla,
  6. Lake Keepit Soaring Club, Gliding at Lake Keepit.
  8. "2016 Global Ebook Award Winners – Dan Poynter's Global Ebook Awards". Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  9. Rouen, Anne. "Anne Rouen's Official Website". StoneHut Publishing. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
  10. Rouen, Anne. "Anne Rouen's Official Achievements Webpage". StoneHut Publishing. Retrieved 17 February 2014.

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