Murwillumbah (/mərˈwɪləmbɑː/ mər-WIL-əm-bah) is a town in far north-eastern New South Wales, Australia, in the Tweed Shire, on the Tweed River, 848 km north-east of Sydney, 13 km south of the Queensland border and 132 km south of Brisbane. At the 2016 census, Murwillumbah had a population of 9,245 people.[1] The town's name is often abbreviated to M'bah[2] or Murbah.[3]

New South Wales
Partial view of town and Tweed River, 2008
Coordinates28°19′39″S 153°23′45″E
Population9,245 (2016 census)[1]
Elevation8 m (26 ft)
LGA(s)Tweed Shire
State electorate(s)Lismore
Federal Division(s)Richmond
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
25.8 °C
78 °F
14.4 °C
58 °F
1,570.1 mm
61.8 in
Localities around Murwillumbah:
Nobbys Creek Kynnumboon Tygalgah
North Arm Murwillumbah South Murwillumbah
Eungella Byangum
Bray Park

Murwillumbah sits on the south eastern foothills of the McPherson Range in the Tweed Volcano valley. The area is hilly. Many of the buildings are Art Deco in style and there are cafes, clothes and antique shops in the town. Murwillumbah is the eighth town mentioned in the original Australia version of the song "I've Been Everywhere".

Murwillumbah was used as the location for the film Lou (2010) starring John Hurt. The ABC television series of the novel Pastures of the Blue Crane was also filmed in the Tweed region in 1969.[4] In 2018, the town was used as a film location for the Netflix distributed Lunatics (2019) starring Chris Lilley.[5] The Town is also close to the filming location of British reality TV show Im A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here, and is used as a base for staff and crew working on the show.


The first people to live in the area were Kalibai people. The name Murwillumbah may derive from an Aboriginal compound meaning either "camping place" – from murrie, meaning "aboriginal people", wolli, "a camp", and bah, "place" – or alternatively from murra, "big", willum, "opossum", and bah.[6] Nearby Mount Warning and its attendant national park are known as Wollumbin, meaning "Cloud Catcher", in the Bundjalung language.

Timber-getters were drawn to the region in the 1840s.[7] The river port at Tumbulgum was initially the main settlement. In 1902, a local government municipality was declared with Murwillumbah as its centre.[7]

Most of the town's business district was destroyed by fire in 1907.[8]

In 1918 an initial 18 allotments were advertised for sale in the Hartigan Estate and a subsequent 200 allotments were advertised for sale in September 1920.[9][10] The land was bounded by the Tweed River and Commercial Road on the east, Condong Street on the north, Riverview Street on the west and Elizabeth Street to the south.[11] The subdivision was sold as part of the estate of Denis Hartigan.[9] In December 1923, "Bray Estate" made up of 9 farm and farmlet blocks was advertised to be auctioned by A.E. Budd & Son.[12] [13]

Murwillumbah is the location for Australia’s largest-ever bank robbery which occurred in 1978 and has not been solved.[8]


Murwillumbah is protected by a series of levees,[14] but they do not protect all parts of the town in major floods. The worst flood to affect the town occurred on 30 March 2017 when the Tweed River reached 6.2 metres (20 ft) after rainfall of over 700 millimetres (28 in) from the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Debbie fell in its upper catchment over a 36 hour period. This level caused extensive flooding and mass evacuations in South Murwillumbah and other low-lying areas, cut road access from the north and south, and fell just short of overtopping the 6.3 metres (21 ft) levees protecting the central business district. The event exceeded previous major floods in 1954[14] and 1956.[8]

In March 1974, two hundred people were evacuated from the town after floodwater from Tropical Cyclone Zoe inundated the area.[15] In January 2008, Murwillumbah and surrounding areas were hit by severe flooding.[16] May 2009 saw more evacuations in the town and surrounds after heavy rainfall.[17]

Heritage listings

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


The town was bypassed by the Pacific Highway in August 2002. Today, main road access from both north and south is via the scenic Tweed Valley Way, which was formerly a section of the original highway.

There is an inland road that passes along the Numinbah Valley through the towns of Chillingham, Numinbah and Natural Bridge which is scenic tourist drive. Another major road west of the town heads to Kyogle via the town Uki, and also passes near the town of Nimbin.

Murwillumbah station was the terminus of the Casino–Murwillumbah branch line, and had daily train services to Sydney until the line closed in 2004. Today NSW TrainLink coaches to and from Casino provide connections to daily trains to Sydney.

Several bus services serve the area. Murwillumbah Bus Company offers regular services to major parts of the town, as well as Condong and Uki. Parson's Bus Service offers services to Pottsville, Cabarita Beach, and Stokers Siding. Gosel's Bus Service offers services to Nimbin via Uki on route 630. Singh's Bus Service offers services to Chillingham, Tyalgum and Eungella. Surfside Buslines operate hourly service to Tweed Heads via Terranora on route 605.

Taxi services are also available.

Murwillumbah's airfield, Whittle Field (ICAO code YMUR), is named after a noted local World War II Spitfire pilot, the late Bob Whittle.[19] It has no scheduled services, but its 800-metre grass runway supports Murwillumbah Aero Club and business activities including crop-dusting, aircraft restoration, training and scenic charter flights.


The major industry of the area, apart from tourism, is sugarcane growing. There were numerous tramways in the area serving the sugar mill at Condong until 1973 with the introduction of mechanical cane harvesting.[20] There is also some dairy farming in the area. Coffee, bananas and assorted tropical fruit and vegetables are also produced throughout the valley. Murwillumbah is also home to Stone & Wood Brewing Co.'s second brewery, which opened in 2014. There are alternative lifestyle retreats nearby, notably one belonging to the Hare Krishna religion.


The annual Tweed Banana Festival, the second oldest festival in Australia is staged in the town. In 2005, the festival celebrated its 50th anniversary.[21]

From 2002 to 2009 an historic motor racing festival was run through the streets of Murwillimbah, featuring a parade through town, a one kilometre hillclimb course, and connected events, attracting thousands of spectators. Modeled on the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Speed on Tweed was a highlight of the local calendar attracting cars and competitors from all over Australia and from Europe and North America. In September 2009 the event was held in conjunction with Rally Australia which has scheduled one special stage in Murwillumbah.


In the 2016 census, Murwillumbah recorded a population of 9,245 people, 52.5% female and 47.5% male. The median age of the Murwillumbah population was 45 years, 7 years above the national median of 38.

81.1% of people living in Murwillumbah were born in Australia. The other top responses for country of birth were England 3.4%, New Zealand 1.9%, India 0.8%, Scotland 0.4%, and Philippines 0.4%. 89.2% of people spoke only English at home; the next most common languages were Punjabi 1.2%, Spanish 0.3%, Italian 0.3%, Tagalog 0.2%, and German 0.2%.[1]


Primary schools

  • Hare Krishna School
  • Mt St Patrick Primary School
  • Murwillumbah East Primary School
  • Sathya Sai School
  • South Murwillumbah's Infants School
  • St Joseph's Primary School
  • Murwillumbah Primary School
  • Tweed Valley Adventist College

Secondary schools

Sport and recreation

Murwillumbah has numerous sports clubs including Murwillumbah Mustangs, Murwillumbah SC, The Gentlemen of Murwillumbah Rugby Club, golf, rowing, cricket, lawn bowls and cycling.

Notable people

Notable people from Murwillumbah include:


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Murwillumbah (Urban Centre/Locality)" Archived 2017-12-01 at the Wayback Machine. 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  2. "M'bah rail too costly: report" by Saffron Howden, Tweed Daily News (18 April 2009)
  3. "Crittle set to tackle Murbah" by Jamie Gallagher and Geoff Campbell, Tweed Daily News (15 December 2009)
  4. Pastures of the Blue Crane on IMDb
  5. Brennan, Aisling (16 April 2018). "Could Mur'bah be back on screen in new Chris Lilley comedy?". Tweed Daily News. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  6. J. S. Ryan, 'Some Aboriginal Place-Names in the Richmond Tweed Area,' Oceania September 1963, volume 34, no. 1, pages = 38-55, p.42
  7. "About the Tweed: History". Tweed Shire Council. Archived from the original on 20 April 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  8. "Murwillumbah: A Brief History". Murwillumbah Chamber of Commerce:. Retrieved 20 April 2011.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  9. "Advertising". Tweed Daily. V, (172). New South Wales, Australia. 20 July 1918. p. 8. Retrieved 26 March 2019 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  10. "Advertising". Tweed Daily. VII, (215). New South Wales, Australia. 11 September 1920. p. 4. Retrieved 26 March 2019 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  11. "Hartigan Estate, subdivision, Town of Murwillumbah". State Library of Queensland. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  12. "BRAY ESTATE SALE". Tweed Daily. X, (304). New South Wales, Australia. 1 December 1923. p. 4. Retrieved 25 March 2019 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  13. "Bray Estate, Tweed River, Murwillumbah". State Library of Queensland. Retrieved 25 March 2019.
  14. "Flood Plan". Murwillumbah Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  15. "Historical Tropical Cyclone Impacts in New South Wales". Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 19 March 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  16. "Remembering Murwillumbah floods". Tweed Daily News. The Tweed Newspaper Company. 6 January 2010. Archived from the original on 11 January 2010. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  17. Kristy Martin (21 May 2009). "Mass evacuations forced in Tweed". Tweed Daily News. The Tweed Newspaper Company. Archived from the original on 4 January 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  18. "Murwillumbah Railway Station and yard group". New South Wales State Heritage Register. Office of Environment and Heritage. H01206. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  19. Boyd, Max (January 2013). "Bob Whittle OAM DFM" (PDF). Timelines. Murwillumbah Historical Society. 1 (3): 1–3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 March 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  20. "The Sugar Tramways of Northern New South Wales", Armstrong, J., Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, June, 1976, pp. 118–132
  21. "Banana Festival under way". Tweed Daily News. The Tweed Newspaper Company. 20 August 2005. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  22. "Max Bryant". Cricinfo. Archived from the original on 1 April 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  23. "The one story the English actually give a rat’s about" Archived 2011-01-17 at the Wayback Machine by Amy Fallon, The Punch (10 December 2009)
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