Wagga Wagga

Archives in your town – a virtual tour

As part of our Archives on Tour initiative we conducted a virtual tour of some of the archives that highlight key moments and people from Tweed Head's past. Take a tour of some of the featured archives below.

Watch the recording of the virtual event

School Files, 1876-1979


What can these records tell you about your town?

There are similarities between all of the school files through content and purpose. They reflect their times. The files cover both wars but particularly reflect the many impacts of World War 1. Women resign or are terminated when they marry as married women were barred from public sector employment. Schools very strongly reflect the growth or decline of towns.

Wagga Wagga’s School files

The school files show the commencement and growth of the government school system from the first Wagga school in 1861. Wagga Wagga Public School offered secondary schooling until Wagga Wagga High School was established in 1912. A second public school opened in 1880 in Wagga Wagga North. Smaller schools outside Wagga Wagga were established, changed names, changed type of school, and prospered or closed as communities changed and transport improved. Wagga Wagga grew and over time some of these schools, like Lake Albert Public School, became suburban schools. More schools, both public and high, were established as Wagga Wagga grew after World War 2.

New public school buildings are needed as populations increase particularly in the 20th Century. The need was met by school tents, the Presbyterian Hall and the Catholic United Charities Auxiliary Hut at the Showground as well as new schools and school buildings. Petitions for new schools are generally successful including for an evening school in 1881.

School tanks run dry and are found to hold water unfit for human consumption. Schools participated in Arbor Day activities, held annual prize giving picnics and managed diphtheria outbreaks. Daily attendance and staffing levels are scrutinised and predicted.

Teachers return from military service in Sudan, become Post masters and are subject to complaints. Teachers requested to remain at schools and to move to other schools and were moved; applied for rent allowances and reimbursement of travelling expenses; suggested land acquisitions and assisted in surveys of child populations for school planning purposes.

20th century increases in population saw kindergarten age children refused enrolment until additional classes were established; new public schools and high schools established. Hostels to provide accommodation for students from outside Wagga Wagga operated.

Extracts from the files

digitised school file

Wagga Wagga Public School, 1879-1889


digitised school file

Wagga Wagga Public School, 1885-1889


digitised school file

Wagga Wagga South Public School


digitised school file

Wagga Wagga South Public School


digitised school file

Wagga Wagga South Public School, Post 1939


digitised school file

North Wagga Wagga Public School, 1896-1939


digitised school file

Wagga Wagga High School


digitised school file

Wagga Wagga High School


digitised school file

Kooringal Public School


digitised school file

Kooringal High School, Post 1939


digitised school file

Lake Albert School 1876-1912


Plans of licensed premises Wagga Wagga Licensing Court


Plans for proposed hotels and for alterations and additions to existing hotels in Wagga and the surrounding area were submitted to the Licensing Court for approval. The plans include elevations, sections, and floor plans. Most plans include details of the name of the hotel, its location, name of the architects, type of plan, scale, and date. Hotels were meeting places and provided accommodation in town for workers, visitors, commercial travellers and pastoralists from the surrounding area.

These plans of five hotels – Australian, Black Swan, Carrington, Exchange and Pastoral – are from the 1920s to the 1940s. They range from small single storey hotels to multi-storey hotels with entire floors of accommodation. All plans are for alterations.

Plans of public buildings


The Colonial Architect started in 1832 and continued on as the Government Architect to the end of the 20th century. The public buildings serve a variety of purposes including Land Board offices; pilot stations and light houses in coastal areas; schools; hospitals; police stations; gaols; court houses; and even post offices from before postal services became a Federal Government responsibility. All of these buildings are often large and enduring even if their purpose changes over time.

Wagga Wagga Watch House was extended in 1887. The plan of those alterations has many pencil notes possibly about later changes.

In a later plan the same building is called the Wagga Lock Up. The plan shows planned additions of cells and a prisoner’s yard.

Theatres and public halls files, 1895-1992


Theatres and public halls had to be licensed from 1895. The licensing and regulations related to public safety. The theatres and public halls were owned by private individuals, businesses, religious organisations, community groups and councils and they were used for many purposes – dances; social gatherings; showing movies; live entertainment and skating (roller and ice). The files provide information about local businesses – both in relation to theatres and public halls and the construction industry. Theatres and public halls are a large part of recreation in any town. The rise and fall of these buildings chart changes in population and in the broader world of recreation.

The Masonic Hall on Tarcutta Street near Johnson Street was inspected in 1926. It had a capacity of 500 people and was used for general purposes, chiefly dancing, once a week. It was extended in the 1960s but ceased to be licenced in 1971.

The Capitol Theatre on Gurwood Street was licensed for the exhibition of cinematograph films in 1938. Films were shown every night with two or three matinees a week. By 1943 the theatre could seat 1,645 people. In 1947 the Capitol Theatre was among 10 theatres across regional NSW owned by Hoyts Country Theatres. In 1966 the site was purchased by Coles for a planned supermarket.

Extracts from the files

screenshot of digitised theatres file

Capitol Theatre, Wagga Wagga

NRS-15318-1-[10-53103]-T1740 AF00102302

screenshot of digitised theatres file

Masonic Hall


Bankruptcy, 1888-1929


Bankruptcy is a state in which a person is unable to pay creditors and is required to undergo a legal process that usually results in liquidation of his/her estate in order to meet expenses (at least in part). If a person is declared to be a bankrupt then he/she cannot operate a business for profit, enter a business contract or borrow money. It is similar, but not identical to insolvency.

There are Insolvency files from 1842 to 1887 and from 1930 bankruptcy became a Federal government matter.

Bankruptcy files contain lists of creditors that the bankrupt person owed money to and debtors that owed money to the bankrupt person. Through these lists they show commercial connections in a town, between towns and with Sydney. The bankrupt person provides a statement about why they became bankrupt often providing a picture of what is happening in the town and beyond. The files of bankrupt people in the town collectively show what sorts of businesses where operating.

Records of a Wagga Wagga Resident

Thomas William Milne was a dairyman in Wagga Wagga. Thomas Milne was declared bankrupt on 22 August 1898. He had been carrying out the business of a dairyman for 18 months. Thomas Milne didn’t keep account books just a diary. Thomas Milne gave the cause of his bankruptcy as bad seasons which meant he was not able to supply milk to many customers. The bad seasons caused stock losses and expenses in keeping stock alive. He also was not able to gain sufficient employment. His bankruptcy was discharged 1908.

screenshot of pages from a bankruptcy file

Thomas William Milne

AF00169678 NRS-13655-1-[10-23192]-12530

Deceased estate files, 1880-1958


The Stamp Duties Office created a deceased estate file for every individual who died leaving property or other assets ('estates'), which were subject to death duties. The files contain the papers, correspondence and other documentation relating to the assessment of death duty by the Stamp Duties Office. They are a financial record of the person’s estate when they die and frequently have very detailed information about a person’s possessions.

There are Deceased estate files for people from all walks of life, men and women, all ages and financial positions.

Records of Wagga Wagga Residents

These two Deceased estate files from 1908 and 1938 are typical of people of their time and their roles. They both also have Probate packets.

Eva Jane D’Hudson, a Hotelkeeper in Wagga Wagga, died in 1938 aged 65. One of the executors of her will, Roy Tapscott, signed the affidavit. Eva D’Hudson had owned the hotel since 1920 and was licensee from September 1935. Eva D’Hudson’s estate was worth nearly 9,000 pounds. The majority of the estate was the hotel and land and a property inSydney at Burwood.

Charles Hardy, a contractor in Wagga Wagga died in 1908. Charles Hardy worked as a builder and contractor in the Wagga Wagga area for over 30 years and was said to have built Wagga. Two of his sons signed the affidavit. His estate was worth over 16,000 pounds. The bulk of this was real estate. The death duty payable was 294 pounds.

screenshot of digitised deceased estate file

Eva Jane D'Hudson

AF00152667 Pre A 128210 [20/2423]

screenshot of digitised deceased estate file

Charles Hardy


Probate packets, 1817-1976 and part 1989


A grant of probate is the authority given by the Supreme Court of NSW to the executor(s) to deal with a deceased person's estate. Probate packets hold the last will and testament, codicils (additions or revocations to the will) or letters of administration.

Other documents include an inventory of assets of the estate; affidavits of death and papers produced by the executor.

Not everyone has a probate packet. Depending on the type, size and value of the assets located in New South Wales it may not be necessary to obtain a grant of probate in New South Wales. There is no statutory requirement to obtain probate in every case.

Records of Wagga Wagga Residents

These Probate packets from the 20th Century are typical of people of their time and their roles while also being special because of who they are.

William John Monks was born in Wagga Wagga and lived in the Pastoral Hotel as a child. William Monks was an architect in Wagga Wagga and over 40 years he and his company designed buildings in practically every district in the southern half of the state. Monks and Hardy were a frequent combination in building Wagga Wagga.

William Monks died in 1943. His estate was worth over 76,000 pounds. The estate included real estate, Government stocks and mortgages. This estate passed to his sister and sister in-law.

Dame Mary Gilmore died in 1962 after a life that spanned several continents and brought her fame. Her Australian Dictionary of Australia entry describes her as poet, writer, patriot, feminist, social crusader and folklorist. As Mary Cameron she first attended school at Brucedale near Wagga Wagga. She both attended and taught at Wagga Wagga Public School. Over 70 years later, Mary Gilmore’s estate worth over 12,000 pounds was divided in detail in her 11 page will including 100 pounds to provide a prize for a pupil at Brucedale School.

Eric Leslie Weissel, a Depot Superintendent, died in Wagga Wagga in 1972 aged 69. Eric Weissel is one of the many sports stars from Wagga Wagga. He played rugby league in the Riverina area and he was good enough to play for New South Wales and Australia without playing for a Sydney club.

Eric Weissel’s estate was worth over $15,000. The bulk of the estate was the family home in Inveraray Street.

screenshot of digitised probate file

William Monks

NRS-13660-25-5834-Series 4_286495

screenshot of digitised probate file

Mary Gilmore

NRS-13660-43-17920-Series 4_557534

screenshot of digitised probate file

Eric Weissel

NRS-13660-65-274-Series 4_743867

Published on 

Local history

Browse all
screenshot of a digitised bankruptcy file

Bankruptcy index 1888-1929

Bankruptcy is a state in which a person is unable to pay creditors and is required to undergo a legal process that usually results in liquidation the estate in order to meet expenses (at least in part).

digitised page from a bankruptcy file

Bankruptcy: what the files can tell you

Bankruptcy files contain lists of creditors that the bankrupt person owed money to and debtors that owed money to the bankrupt person