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The History of Moree

Before white settlement the Moree area was occupied by the Kamilaroi people whose descendants are still very much a presence in the town.

The first European known to have visited the area was surveyor Thomas Mitchell in 1832. He was sent to investigate the district by the acting govenor after the recapture of escaped convict George Clarke who told of a great river called the Kindur. Clarke had been living in the area to the south with the Kamilaroi from 1826-1831.

Squatters soon followed in Mitchell's wake establishing pastoral runs, among which was 'Moree' (1844), from a Kamilaroi term thought to mean either 'long waterhole' or 'rising sun'.

James and Mary Brand built a general store on the townsite in 1852. A post office was added the following year. The family sold up and moved to the Hunter Valley in 1857 but James died in 1858 leaving Mary with six children so she returned and, failing to buy back the store, opened a second in Bank Street. In 1861 she opened the town's first inn.

Moree was gazetted in 1862 with land sales proceeding that year. A court of petty sessions was established in 1863 although a flood submerged the town in 1864. The first constable arrived and a police station was set up in 1865. The first church (Wesleyan) was built in 1867.

As closer settlement proceeded agriculture emerged on the fertile flood plains. The first bank was built in 1876 and the first local newspaper was set up in 1881, at which time the population was 295. The town became a municipality in 1890 and the railway arrived in 1897.

Wheat cultivation increased after World War II with a flour mill built at Moree in 1951.

The postwar years also saw the displacement of many indigenous people who had lived and worked on the land. Hence Moree has a large Aboriginal population.

Cotton has become vital to the local economy since cultivation began in the early 1960's and the first commercial pecan nut farm was established on the Gwydir River in 1966.

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