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Population: 540 (2006 census)
Terminus Hotel, Marulan.
Most people who have traveled along the Hume Highway between Sydney and Melbourne will know Marulan, with its truck stops, service stations and refreshment services.
Just as, over a century ago, everyone passing between Sydney and southwards also had to go through Marulan.
This is because, at over 700 metres above sea level, it offers the only easily navigable path across this section of the Great Dividing Range.
Marulan sits amidst a narrow neck of land between the ridges and steep gorges of the Shoalhaven & Wollondilly Rivers.
Just some 11kms wide, this stretch, known as the Marulan Ramp, has been the main south corridor inland since time immemorial.
Prior to the coming of the Europeans, Marulan was the junction of four aboriginal territories - that of the Gundagarra, Wadi Wadi, Wandandian, and Ngawal peoples. Marulan was the crossover point, and the meeting place of these peoples.
Marulan was first visited by colonials in 1798 when the expedition by Wilson, Price, Hacking, and Collins camped there on their early exploration of the interior.
The first mention of Marulan was made by Charles Throsby in 1818 on the great journey of exploration he headed with Meehan, Wild, and Hume which led to the discovery of the Goulburn Plains and Lake Bathurst.
This open land excited much interest. Governor Macquarie himself visited in 1820 to see for himself, and land grants and settlement followed soon after. (Hume himself took up a grant near Marulan at Tallong.)
In 1824 a survey was begun by William Harper from Paddys River to Bungonia with a view to such settlement (completed by Hoddle in 1828).
This incursion was not particularly welcomed by the local natives. Although they had got on well with the early explorers (indeed, were often to act as guides for them), settlement of their lands was a different matter.
An incident in 1826 when two stockmen were "murdered" by aborigines lead to a confrontation. (Given the way aborigines were often treated by such people, this may have been a justified reprisal.)
Retaliation led to a native uprising, but this was averted when Governor Darling sent in the troops. Subsequently the story of the original inhabitants was to be a typical but unhappy one, most eventually dying of introduced diseases.
The first main road through the Marulan access inland ran towards Bungonia (already a major settlement) and on to the coast, with a branch to the Goulburn Plains.
At their crossroads a township (meant as a way station) was drawn up by Mitchell and surveyed by Hoddle in 1834. The township of Marulan was born, and officially gazetted on 11 March, 1835.
(This village, at the three way junction of the roads is not where the current village is today.)
As usual a large church reserve was set aside, but the first establishment seems to have been the Woolpack Inn, the forerunner of the great roadhouses of today, and a post office (1836).
By 1845 there were another two inns, one store, and several bark huts. A chapel had been added by 1847, and in that year the police station (originally at Inverary, then Bungonia) was moved to Marulan, along with a Court of Petty Sessions.
In 1850 there was also a schoolhouse, a blacksmith and wheelwright to serve the local population and passersby. St Patricks Catholic Church was built in 1863, and later a Church of England in 1866.
Marulan had developed into a substantial village.
The original South Road (from Sutton Forest to Barbers Creek, then to Bungonia) in 1828 had by now been replaced by a line of road from Sutton Forest to Marulan, then on to Goulburn and Bungonia (the road from here to Braidwood was never completed, but went - as it does today - via Goulburn instead).
In the earliest days it took two weeks by bullock waggon from Campbeltown to Marulan.
By 1836, however, there was a daily mail service to the post office, and in 1848 a two horse coach ran a one day service from Camden to Marulan and on to Goulburn. Later there was a night coach on the run.
Butcher's Shop (c.1890s)
From 1868 Cobb & Co. ran a service from Marulan to Goulburn and on to Cooma, but this was to disappear with the coming of the railways. Hospitable as Marulan was, with its bustling traffic on the highway, in the 1860s it attracted the attention of some unwanted visitors - bushrangers attracted to the gold shipments from Braidwood.
In 1864 the notorious Ben Hall was in the area, and his gang - and later Lowry's held up mail coaches at Marulan. Hall was at it again in 1865 at Paddys River and was to bail up the town itself.
Marulan is a town of changes, the first occurring on 6 August 1868 when the great southern railway reached Marulan.
The station, however, (originally known as Mooroowoolen) with its goods shed and stockyard was built 2.5km east of the exisitng town.
Soon a shop, bakery, and accommodation house joined the Terminus Hotel built in 1866 to cater for the navvies.
The irresistable pull of the railway brought first the Woolpack Inn, then other businesses from the old town.
By the 1890s the main part of the town as it stands today had ten stores, police station, the Post Office, an Oddfellows Hall (used as Court House), a School of Arts, and numerous residences. Many of these buildings can still be seen.
The original village faded away (although buildings still stand which can be seen today) - the post office moving in 1878, a new All Saints Church built to replace the old St. Judes Church of England, plus St. Stephens Presbytery (1873). (St Patricks Catholic Church moved only in 1930, when a school was established.)
On 1st September 1878 the new town was officially given the name of the original Marulan.
But if the railway was to have such an effect it is the 'great south road", originally built by convict labour, which has largely determined the history of Marulan.
Prior to Marulan itself, there was an encampment six kilometres north of the present town - the 'wingello stockade' - in 1834 where the convicts and their gaolers were housed.
As the road progressed this camp moved to Towrang (1839-45). The results of their labours can be seen today in the bridge at Towrang, and some of the stone in the Catholic Church in Marulan is said to be convict-cut. A tree said to be used in flogging recalcitrant prisoners is also still standing.
Over the years the road was improved and new roads cut to Goulburn, and Taralga (1890s).
In 1928 the main road was proclaimed a state highway (named after explorer Hamilton Hume) and it came under state control.
In the 1930s the Marulan section was concreted from Mt. Otway to Marulan South (the present freeway follows this route again), then meandered about as sections were improved.
For the next 50 years Marulan became a highway town, until it too faded in importance when the freeway was built to bypass it in 1985.
Marulan was the perfect place to build a lorry checking station (trucks can't bypass this section of the road). The first was built in 1931 in the town itself, then in 1958 the first big weighstations were built further out along the highway.
New bigger stations were built in the 1970s (still to be seen near the present highway), and the current vast complexes in 1985.
Marulan's role as a refreshment stop has also been usurped by the vast roadhouses alongside the freeway, and today the town has reverted to a sleepier, but more pleasant village.