This isolated western NSW town is becoming known as the town that never quits.

Story John Dunn  Photo Martin Bass

"Every time you think the town is going to die, it doesn’t.” These are the words of Ed Highnam, administration officer of the new multi-service outlet in the remote NSW outback centre of Ivanhoe, where facilities are few, rain is rare, the sun is hot and living can be challenging.

The nearest towns of any size are far away – Broken Hill 321km and Hay 208km. The headquarters of the largest shire in NSW, Central Darling Shire, is 200km away at Wilcannia. These long-distance figures are exacerbated because not all the connections are on bitumen. 

The Indian Pacific thunders through twice weekly, but disdainfully doesn’t stop. A service to Sydney does.

Ivanhoe, population 260, has struggled against these disadvantages since it was settled in 1870 by George Williamson, a storekeeper from nearby Booligal, who opened a business there on traditional lands of the Ngiyampaa people, and named the village after a popular historical novel written by fellow Scot, Sir Walter Scott. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #148

Outback Magazine: April/May 2023