Wee Waa

Wee Waa (/ˈw wɔː/) is a town located on the north-western slopes of the New England region in New South Wales, Australia. The town is within the Narrabri Shire local government area and is on the Namoi River. Wee Waa is 41 kilometres (25 mi) north-west of Narrabri and 571 kilometres (355 mi) northwest of Sydney on the Kamilaroi Highway. At the 2011 census, Wee Waa had a population of 1,653,[1] of which 20.8% were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Wee Waa
New South Wales
Main street
Wee Waa
Coordinates30°12′S 149°26′E
Population1,653 (2011 census)[1]
LGA(s)Narrabri Shire
State electorate(s)Barwon, Tamworth
Federal Division(s)Parkes

Wee Waa is 42 kilometres from the Newell Highway, and is referred to as a gateway to the far west centres of Walgett, Collarenebri, Lightning Ridge opal fields and beyond.[2]

The Aboriginal meaning of Wee Waa is "Fire for Roasting" from the language of the Kamilaroi people. The town is known to be the "Cotton Capital of Australia"[2] as a rural community situated in the rich agricultural heartland of the Lower Namoi Valley in NSW. The town services a far greater rural community as well as the villages of Burren Junction, Pilliga and Gwabegar.

The town is situated approximately 190 metres (620 ft) above sea level.


Before the arrival of European settlers, the Wee Waa area was inhabited by the Gamilaraay/Kamilaroi aboriginal people.[3]

The Wee Waa run was taken up by squatter George Hobler in 1837 and the settlement developed. It became an administrative centre in the late 1840s. A police station and court of petty sessions were established in 1847 and a post office opened two years later. It is the oldest established town in the area and is the birthplace of the commercial cotton industry in Australia.

Rail services were extended in 1901 from Narrabri to Walgett, passing through the town.

The first commercial cotton plantation was established in 1961, irrigated with water from the Keepit Dam on the Namoi River.[4]

It was the first town built on the Namoi River. The town is subject to regular floods and is protected by a levee bank. However thousands of people were isolated on properties around Wee Waa in February 2012.



The Wee Waa district has a mean summer minimum temperature of 20 °C (68 °F) and a maximum of 35 °C (95 °F). Mean winter temperatures range from 4 °C (39 °F) to 18 °C (64 °F). Mean annual rainfall is 575 millimetres (22.6 in), falling on 80 days of the year.[5]

Man made

The town has two motels, four schools, a preschool, ABC Learning Centre, two hotels and two caravan parks as well as eating-places, a public swimming pool, a nine-hole golf course, bowling club, tennis courts, a modern sporting complex, a hostel for the aged and a new medical centre.

Wee Waa is serviced by NSW TrainLink rail services, interstate coaches, and daily air services offered through Narrabri.

Notable events

In 1973 Arthur Murray led the Aboriginal cotton-chippers on strike for better pay and working conditions. The Wee Waa Echo called them "radicals and professional troublemakers", adding that "it is not fanciful to see the Aboriginal problem as the powder keg for Communist aggression in Australia".[6]

It was in Wee Waa police station that rugby player Eddie Murray was killed in 1981, one of the Aboriginal deaths in custody that prompted a Royal Commission to be set up.[7] It was also the first town in Australia to use DNA testing to find a rapist.[8]

On 17 May 2013 at the 79th Annual Wee Waa Show, Columbia Records held the global launch party for the French electronic music duo Daft Punk's album Random Access Memories.[9] This caused much excitement in the town and it attracted an estimated 2,500 tourists.[10][11] It was initially believed that footage recorded from the event would be used for a music video;[12][13][14][15] however, this did not come to fruition.


The town has a multi-function Sports Complex, which acts as a de facto community centre.

The main sport in Wee Waa is Rugby league, the name of the town's club is The Wee Waa Panthers. This is also Jamie Lyon's home club in which he played before his international career. Lyon later left his professional career with the Parramatta Eels to return for a season with the Wee Waa Panthers. The first-grade team went on to win that year (2004) against Moree, 55 to 12.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Wee Waa (Urban Centre)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 27 June 2015.
  2. "WeeWaa.com". WeeWaa.com. Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  3. "Wee Waa, NSW". Aussie Towns. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  4. Cotton Australia. "AUSTRALIAN COTTON HISTORY Fact Sheet". Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  5. "Climate History - Wee Waa". yahoo.com.au. Archived from the original on 19 November 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2015.
  6. "John Pilger: The life and death of Aboriginal activist Arthur Murray". newstatesman.com. Archived from the original on 24 May 2014. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  7. Indigenous Law Resources, Reconciliation and Social Justice Library. "Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody". Archived from the original on 6 May 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  8. Mealey, Rachel. "Wee Waa DNA testing could start benchmark for investigation". The world Today. Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
  9. "Daft Punk to launch Random Access Memories in Wee Waa". Triple J. 9 April 2013. Archived from the original on 11 April 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  10. McCabe, Kathy. "Daft Punk fans descend on Wee Waa for launch of album Random Access Memories". Archived from the original on 6 May 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  11. McCabe, Kathy. "Wee Waa goes wild for Daft Punk at album launch". Archived from the original on 6 May 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  12. "9 things we learnt from DaftPunk's Wee Waa launch". 2013. Archived from the original on 8 June 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  13. "Daft Punk fever takes over Wee Waa". 2013. Archived from the original on 8 October 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  14. "Police descend on Wee Waa for Daft Punk launch". 2013. Archived from the original on 21 May 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
  15. "Road to Wee Waa Telescope". 2013. Archived from the original on 20 December 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013.

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