Albury is a major regional city in New South Wales, Australia, located on the Hume Highway on the northern side of the Murray River. It is the seat of local government for the council area which also bears the city's name - the City of Albury. Albury has an urban population of 45,627 people.
Albury is separated from its twin city in Victoria, Wodonga by the Murray River. Together, the two cities form an urban area with a population of more than 80,000. It is from the state capital Sydney and from the Victorian capital Melbourne.
Said to be named after a town in England, Albury developed as a major transport link between the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria and was proclaimed a city in 1946.
There are few remainders of the indigenous population of the area, although the Wiradjuri people occupied the area for many thousands of years prior to European settlement. There is little documented about the relationship of Aboriginal people and the early European settlers.
The explorers Hume and Hovell arrived at what their maps called 'Crossing Point', but is now known as the Murray River at Albury, on 16 November 1824. They named the river the Hume River, after Hume's father, and the next day inscribed a tree by the river bank before continuing their journey south to Westernport in Victoria. In 1830, explorer Captain Charles Sturt discovered the Hume River downstream at its junction with the Murrumbidgee River. Not realising it was the same river, he named it the Murray River. Both names persisted for some time, Hume falling into disuse eventually in favour of Murray. The aboriginal name for the river was Millewa. A crossing place for the Murray became popular close to where Hovell inscribed the tree. In summer it was usually possible to cross the river by foot.
The first European buildings erected at the crossing place were a provisions store and some small huts. A survey for a town was commissioned in 1838 by Assistant Surveyor Thomas Townsend who mapped out Woodonga Place (the present Wodonga Place) as the western boundary, Hume Street as the northern boundary, Kiewa Street to the east and Nurigong to the south, with Townsend Street being the only other north-south road, and Ebden and Hovell Streets being the other two east-west roads. Townsend proposed the settlement be named 'Bungambrewatha', the Aboriginal name for the area, but when his plan was eventually approved and published in the Government Gazette on 13 April 1839 the name had been changed to Albury.
Albury is said to be named after a village in Kent, England which it apparently resembled.
By 1847 the Albury settlement included two public houses and a handful of huts, a police barracks and a blacksmiths. A log punt established in 1844 serviced the crossing of the Murray River. Albury Post Office opened on 1 April 1843, closed in 1845, then reopened in the township on 1 February 1847.
In 1851, with the separation of Victoria from New South Wales, and the border falling on the Murray River, Albury found itself a frontier town. With an increase in commerce with Melbourne, the first bridge was built in 1860 to the design of surveyor William Snell Chauncy. Albury at this time became a Customs Post between the two colonies as New South Wales held a protectionist stance after gaining its constitution in 1856.
Albury was at this time starting to grow substantially with German speaking immigrants using the area to grow grapes for wine. By the 1870s a butter factory was established, a flour mill, wineries and locally brewed cider and soft drinks were available.
The railway line from Sydney arrived at Albury in 1881 (see Transport-Rail below). A temporary wooden railway bridge joined the line to the Victorian network in 1883. New South Wales and Victoria had different track gauges until 1962, when the first train ran direct from Sydney to Melbourne. The States could not initially agree which should be the transfer point so they had an expensive and attractive iron lattice bridge sent from Scotland which accommodated both gauges. The bridge is still standing astride the Murray and is in daily use.
In 1888 Albury built its first school house. The city's first mayor James Fallon was an innovator of the Public School, funding a demonstration High School to be built on Kiewa Street.
20th Century city
The Royal Commission on Sites for the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth report of 1903 recommended Albury (along with Tumut) as the preferred candidate for the national capital, though the proposal met staunch opposition from residents. At a public meeting, just one member of parliament voted in favour of Albury - Isaac Isaacs member for the Indi. The lack of support for other places ultimately led to the selection of Canberra as the preferred site.
In 1934, a Douglas DC-2 airliner of KLM (the "Uiver"), a competitor in the MacRobertson Air Race (also known as the London to Melbourne Air Race), made an emergency night landing at the town's racecourse after becoming lost during severe thunderstorms. After signalling by Morse code A-L-B-U-R-Y to the lost aircrew by using the entire town's public lighting system, the "Uiver" was guided in to land safely. The makeshift runway at the racecourse was illuminated by the headlights of cars belonging to local residents who had responded to a special news bulletin on ABC Radio 2CO. After refuelling the next day, many local volunteers helped pull the stranded aircraft out of the mud and the aircraft was able to take off and continue to Melbourne where it won first prize in the race's handicap category and became second overall.
Albury played a military role in World War II with the establishment of a base at Bonegilla. Proclaimed a city in 1946, Albury and played a role in the Post-war immigration to Australia with the establishment nearby of Australia's first migrant centre, the Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre in 1947.
Albury's proximity to Wodonga has spurred several efforts to achieve some kind of municipal governmental union (see Albury-Wodonga). In 1973, Albury-Wodonga was selected as the primary focus of the Whitlam federal government's scheme to redirect the uncontrolled growth of Australia's large coastal cities (Sydney and Melbourne in particular) by encouraging decentralisation. Grand plans were made to turn Albury-Wodonga into a major inland city and large areas of the surrounding farmland was compulsorily purchased by the government. Some industries were enticed to move there, and a certain amount of population movement resulted. However, the current population of approximately 101,597 residents is far below the 300,000 projected by Whitlam in the 1970s.
Albury has a large number of heritage buildings. The following are listed on the Register of the National Estate.