The Wiradjuri people lived peacefully in the Bylong Valley and it wasn’t until 1822 that a Wiradjuri guide known as Pen Wen Ha (Penny) from the Bathurst region led the 1st white man to the lush secluded valley. Lieutenant William Lawson was in charge of the 1st exploration.
Mt Penny directly to the west of the Bylong village was thought to be named after Pen Wen Ha and Lawson named the Goulburn River after Henry Goulburn the Colonial Secretary at the time.
It was noted in 1884 by Mr Mackenzie of the Maitland Mercury that the valley appeared lush and green compared to other country of the lower Goulburn and “how it preserves its colour, even in a dry season is a mystery”. The Bylong Valley is reknowned for its fertile pastures, underground water, and pristine stunning scenery. Visitors marvel at this breathtaking valley.
White settlers 1st moved to the valley in 1825, the Tindale and Lee families among the first. The Lee family outstation situated on “Taworri” was the first sandstone dwelling built in Bylong and remains standing. It was built in 1848. The first Tindale homestead was built on “Sunnyside” not long after and also remains standing.
Horses and Agriculture
Thoroughbred racehorses were bred in the valley at this time by the Tindale & Lee families as well as Shorthorn cattle which had a reputation of “high quality”. The reputation for breeding quality racehorses remained up until recent times with two Golden Slipper winners “Birthday Card” and “Sir Dapper” being breed in the valley. Champion stallions “Heroic”, “Oenjay Star”, and “Spectacular Spy” plus dual Melbourne Cup winner “Rain Lover” stood at stud in the valley.
Dairy farming, lucerne production for hay and seed, and corn grown for Edgells were all successful enterprises in the valley.
The Anglican Church, St Stephen’s was built in 1876, consecrated in 1881 and at the time was the only sandstone church in the country that contained stained French glass windows.
The Bylong Hall opened in 1921 and is still functioning. The land on which the church and hall stand was “donated” to the Bylong community by the Tindale family around 1875.
The Bylong Upper Public School, which sadly is now ‘in recess’ marked 130 years of education in the valley in 2014.
In more recent times Bylong became synonymous with the ‘Mouse Races’. Spanning 25 years, the races generated over $500,000 in donations to local charities and causes, a fact that makes the local valley community extremely proud.
Proceeds from the Bylong Mouse Races and Council have transformed the old tennis courts into a rest area which is well patronised by the travelling public. Shower, toilet, and BBQ facilities, plus playground and ‘dump point’ for RV’s are now frequently used.
The Bylong Valley Way was completely sealed by 2009 and now forms a great access from north to south, and east to west, making Bylong the NE gateway to the Mid-Western region.
In recent years activity in the valley has focused on exploration for coal, petroleum, and rare earths, and it would seem that large amounts of farmland in the valley could in the near future be destined for mining. Should this come to be it will mark a significant change for Bylong and its valley.