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Trip Planner Australia  /  New South Wales  /  Thirlmere

Thirlmere

3.7
Thirlmere is a small semi-rural town in the Macarthur Region of New South Wales, Australia, in Wollondilly Shire. Popularly known for its railway origins, the town is located 89 km south west of Sydney (about a 60-minute drive), one third of the distance from Sydney to Canberra. At the, Thirlmere had a population of 4,046.Thirlmere was previously known as Village of Thirlmere and was originally named after Lake Thirlmere in England.HistoryThe Thirlmere area was first discovered by the British in 1798, whose attention was focussed more on the Thirlmere Lakes area and finding an alternate route north towards Bathurst.Thirlmere boomed with the creation of the Great Southern Railway in 1863 to 1867, when the area was blanketed in tents to house the many railway workers that came to the area to work. Thirlmere was valued mostly for the proximity of the Thirlmere Lakes (then called Picton Lakes) which were used to provide water for the steam trains. During this period Thirlmere was also the home for a number of timber mills, whose main product was the milling of sleepers for the railway line.The Thirlmere section of the Main Southern Railway was deviated in 1919 to a less steep alignment with easier grades, and the original line became the Picton Loop Line. This transformed the village from a hive of steam train activity to a quiet farming region, mainly supplying the surrounding villages with foods and goods.Many Estonian immigrants settled in Thirlmere from 1924 onwards, especially after the Second World War when tens of thousand had fled to avoid being sent to Siberia for alleged political and economic crimes. Estonians are largely responsible for the development of the successful poultry industry, which at one stage was the largest egg producer in the state and still provides the great majority of NSW's poultry produce. Many of the younger generations of Estonians have left the area and moved closer to the city but other original immigrants and newcomers live there still in Australia's only Estonian Retirement Village.
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