Village History

The first records of Nimmitabel dates from the early 1830's. The name if the settlement was spelled in various forms, ranging from Nimoitehool to Nimmitybelle. By the mid 1850's it had become a small village of slab and bark huts, surrounded by grazing properties leased from the crown. In 1858 a survey was carried out and Nimmitabel officially became a town.

Early settlement up to the mid 1920's is described in the first edition of Back to Cooma. Following the Great Depression, life remained quite hard in Nimmitabel. Work consisted mainly of fencing and shearing. The construction of the Ingebrya Road offered some employment opportunities and it was always possible to earn a little money from rabbit trapping.

Hopes were raised with the opening of the Meat Works in 1939. Premises were established on the McLaughlan River, adjacent to a loop on the railway line. Unfortunately there were several problems with the equipment and the management of the project, leading to the closure of the meat works in 1942.

During the 1940's several local people left in Nimmitabel to serve in the armed forces. After the war two returned servicemen set up a skin and wool store in Nimmitabel. Noel West soon concentrated more on his own property, while Stan Creamer established a successful stock and station agency, in partnership with Country Producers' Selling Company. Stan conducted this business for thirty years until Peter Curlewis took over in 1979.

In August 1947 a business began which was to become a focal point in Nimmitabel. Gordon and Mercia Thistleton opened a General Store, running it until 1979 when they sold out to the Rayners. The store has changed hands since and now incorporates the Post Office.

The 1940's also saw an increase interest in pasture development, with the Department of Agriculture providing assistance in assessing land and advice on its improvement. The renovations carried out to St Joeph's Catholic Church and School was another improvement.

There were two more notable events in the decade. In 1948 Rayner Bros opened up a fairly large sawmill in Nimmitabel. This became a great asset to the town and created steady work for some years. In 1974 Rayners sold out to Tablelands Sawmills Pty Ltd and wood-chopping was added to the sawmill operations. In 1992 the sawmill closed and this meant substantial loss of work and income for the Nimmitabel community.

The other memorable happening was the recorded snowfall in 1949. This devastated the district and caused havoc. A train en route to Bombala became lost in the drifts and made it back to Nimmitabel with extreme difficulty.

With the coming of the 1950's there was substantial impacts on Nimmitabel from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme. This brought European migrants into the community, several of whom stayed on after the Snowy construction finished.

The 1950's were also a time of steady growth and change. In 1954 electricity reached Nimmitabel. The railway was busy and thriving and pasture improvement continued. Not everything was rosy, however. In 1950 a fire destroyed a large part of the business section of the town and in 1953 an explosion at the silica mine at Rock Flat took the life of Frank Burke and left George Bales seriously injured.

Growth continued during the 1960's. The old School of Arts building was modernized and become the Pioneer's Memorial Hall. In 1963 Nimmitabel at last had piped water and supply. During 1964 new sale yards were constructed near the railway. In the three years from 1964 the Bowling and Golf Club was established and is today Nimmitabel Country Club. Other events were the arrival of the first TV set, installed in the bar at Payten's Pub. Until 1996 the Payten's were a community fixture for 45 years, as licensees of the Commercial Hotel (now a private residence) and then the Tudor Inn across the road. The 1960's also saw the establishment of the Garden Club, kerbing and guttering in the town, more Department of Housing residences, and improvements to the highway to the south and the coast and in 1969, the 100 year anniversary of Nimmitabel Public School.

 

Serere drought conditions beginning in 1969 continued into the 1970's. Livestock had to be agisted in the Harden and Warren districts. There were water restrictions locally.