Pioneer settler and cattleman Joshua Bray first noted the name Murwillumbah in 1863 as his recording of the Aboriginal name for the local tribe and tribal lands between the Rous and Tweed Rivers, but it was not until 1868 that the first vessel appeared on the Tweed River.
A year later sugar cane began growing in the district. By 1872 the town site was surveyed, with the river the main access and transport for settlers, timber and produce. When the railway arrived in 1894, this radical improvement in transportation gave a huge boost the town, and development was rapid, until a devastating fire which all but wiped out the main business area in 1907. However, rebuilding was undertaken and many of the fine old buildings resulting can still be seen today in the heritage streetscape of the old commercial centre. The Historical Museum in Queensland Road documents the area’s history.
Newer buildings include the Tweed River Regional Art Gallery, which is home to the Doug Moran National Portraiture Prize Competition, the richest portrait prize in the world. There are frequent special exhibitions, and past winners of the prize are displayed.
The town is still the centre for dairying, sugarcane and banana growing, and the famous Tweed Banana Festival, established in 1955, commemorates the agricultural strength of the region. However, as the area is close to both the Gold Coast with its theme parks as well as Mount Warning and many World Heritage areas, tourism and particularly eco-tourism, is increasingly important to the town and regional areas. The Tweed River is also popular for fishing and boating, and there are many sporting fields, clubs and an excellent golf course.
The town has a wide range of shops and services and is a major centre for many outlying villages, such as Tyalgum, Uki and Stokers Siding, which make great country drive destinations. Murwillumbah’s housing spreads along the western bank of the Tweed and into the hills of the nearby McPherson ranges, providing beautiful mountain, river or valley views to many residents, and attracting new settlers wanting a country lifestyle with conveniences close by.
- Population – 7053
- Transport Service
- Brunswick Valley – Coach & Travel, Rail
- Council – Tweed Valley Shire
- Murwillumbah Showground Markets – 4th Sunday every month
- Knox Park Markets – 2nd Sunday every month
- Uki Buttery Bazaar – 3rd Sunday every month
- Tyalgum Diggers Family Day – July
- Tweed Valley Banana Festival and Harvest Week – August – September
- Tyalgum Music Festival – Classical Music- September
- Agricultural Show – November