Many Australians have uttered the phrase “Beyond the Black Stump,” but few know where it started. The exact origin of the expression meaning “the middle of nowhere” or “beyond civilization,” is hotly debated. The New South Wales town of Coolah has a pretty convincing backstory to their claim on the original charcoal tree remains.
It’s said that the local Aboriginal Gamilaraay people called this area “Weetalibah-Wallangan,” translating to “Place where the fire went out and left a burnt stump.”
Following European colonization and the establishment of the colony of New South Wales, official documentation from 1826 shows a property named “Black Stump Run” in this vicinity. Black Stump Run took on new significance in 1829 when Governor Darling declared the property to be the limit of a new settlement in the colony. Therefore, land designated “Beyond the Black Stump” could not be claimed by settlers.
Later in the 1860s, a change to the laws allowed land selection past Black Stump Run to re-commence. Around this time, the Black Stump Inn was constructed at the crossroads leading to the nearby towns of Gunnedah and Coonabarabran.
The inn, which became known as the Black Stump Wine Saloon, took its name from the nearby property. It has been suggested that the saloon was commonly used as a landmark by travelers – another possible source for the phrase. That is until the inn itself became charcoal in 1908 after a devastating fire.
Today, the location of Black Stump Run is a rest area marked by a black tree stump on Black Stump Way, just north of Coolah. The rest stop includes picnic shelters, an electric barbecue, and toilets.