Woolgoolga Community


Quiet holiday resort noted for its large Sikh population.
Woolgoolga is a pleasant and leisurely seaside town which spreads from the hills down to the beach side. It is located 586 km north-east of Sydney and 25 km north of Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga is famous for its large Indian community, its Sikh temples and its Indian restaurants. The traveller, noting the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple on one side of the road and the large Indian complex a few hundred metres further north, would be forgiven for thinking they were not in the New South Wales northern rivers district but in part of the Punjab.

Before European settlement the Woolgoolga area was inhabited by the Gumbaingirr Aborigines. It was the northern extremity of a territorial area which was bounded by Dorrigo to the west and Nambucca Heads to the south.

There is some evidence that the town's name was derived from the original run owned by Thomas Small which was called Weelgoolga. No one knows exactly what this word means but it is believed it was used by the local Aborigines as a term to describe both the entire area and the lily-pilly trees which grew in the area.

By the 1830s cedar cutters were in the area but it wasn't until the 1870s that any permanent European settlement occurred. The village, originally known as Woogoolga was officially gazetted in 1888. The name was changed to Woolgoolga in 1966.

By the end of the 19th century timber milling and the cutting of cedar were important in the area although Woolgoolga was never a major timber milling centre. Apart from the timber activity there were a number of attempts to farm a variety of crops. By the 1890s there was a jetty near the town which was being used by the sawmills and there was some sugar farming in area. The area proved unsatisfactory for sugar cane. By the turn of the century bananas were being grown but it was not until around the 1930s that they were grown with any success.

Around the turn of the century a substantial number of Indian migrants, probably attracted to the area by banana farming, moved south from Queensland and settled. They are the ancestors of the modern town's substantial Sikh community. They were the descendants of Punjabi migrants who had originally come to Australia to work on the Queensland canefields. Today the Sikhs represent about 25 per cent of the total population of Woolgoolga. They are a mixture of the descendants of the original settlers and immigrants who, over the past century, have come to join relatives and to marry within the community. Today Woolgoolga is an interesting and peaceful seaside holiday destination. It has the usual attractions of swimming, surfing and fishing. This is distinctively modified by its unique Indian and Sikh connections.

Further north along the highway, roads on the right lead to beach resorts at Mullaway, Arrawarra, Corindi Beach and Red Rock.


Guru Nanak Sikh Temple
Located prominently on the hill above the Pacific Highway, this large white building was almost certainly the first Sikh temple constructed in Australia. It was completed on 3 January 1970. Visitors are welcome to inspect the temple which is open on weekends. People have to remove their shoes and cover their heads to enter (there are cloths for covering the head) but once inside it is impossible not to be impressed by the brightness of the colours.

Raj Mahal Emporium
Complete with minarets, elephants and the Koh-I-Noor Indian Restaurant, it has in recent times fallen into disrepair. One of the elephants has lost its tail. For details contact (02) 6654 1955.

Wedding Bells Forest
Located off Creek Road, which in turn is off the Pacific Highway roundabout, this charming area of rainforest includes a particularly beautiful waterfall which cascades over the rocks. Nearby is an attractive 8 hectare subtropical rainforest which is home to more than 80 species of birds.

Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Located 10 km north of Woolgoolga, at 170 Red Rock Rd, Corindi Beach, is the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre, established by the Gumbaingirr tribe who are the traditional inhabitants of the area. The complex is essentially a conference centre, albeit with a unique twist. There is a range of activities available for vistors (a minimum of five people is preferred), including a bush-tucker walk, a visit to local Aboriginal sites, basket-making, a history walk (through ancient middens, ochre quarries, campsites, stone and tool workshops, mythological and ceremonial sites), a beach walk in the Solitary Islands Marine Park, screen printing, clay modelling, a plantation tour, Gumbaingirr language basics, organic bush-tucker tastings and meals at the bush-tucker cafe, a display of Aboriginal artefacts, arts, crafts, books and CDs, a nursery of medicinal plants, an undercover picnic-barbeque area and a camping ground with amenities. Special packages are available for school groups. There is dorm accommodation for 70 people, tel: (02) 6649 2669.

Yuraygir National Park
5 km north of Corindi, along the highway, is a turnoff on the right into Barcoongere State Forest Road. This 12-km road leads to Station Creek Rest Area - a remote coastal camping and picnic area 500 m from the beach and a walking track.


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Sikh Community in Woolgoolga

Walkabout - Woolgoolga

WOOLGOOLGA Community Information



Coffs Coast maps of suburbs including Woolgoolga and Sandy Beach Click on the MAPS icon 


Woolgoolga in Coffs Coast on the North Coast of New South Wales Australia