Ivanhoe is most likely the most isolated town in NSW. Ivanhoe is a crossroads town the services a vast and sparsely populated region in the central west. This is a treeless region of NSW and Ivanhoe is a true outback town but has most essential services. The township is characterized by a particularly wide main street. At the 2006 census, Ivanhoe had a population of 265 people.
The town was founded in the early 1870s, and was named after Sir Walter Scott’s work of historical fiction, Ivanhoe. The reason for the naming remains a mystery. The township was situated on well-used coach and stock routes connecting Wilcannia on the Darling River with Balranold on the Murrumbidgee.
In 1869 George Brown Williamson, the postmaster and a storekeeper at Booligal, purchased 40 acres (160,000 m2) from the “Waiko” pastoral run at the site which was to become the township of Ivanhoe. Williamson selected the location as a business opportunity, being the junction of two roads from Booligal and Balranald leading to Wilcannia on the Darling River.
A hotel was built at Ivanhoe in 1871 (the Ivanhoe Hotel); the licensee was James Eade, who remained publican until 1875. A post office opened at Ivanhoe on 1 January 1874 at Williamson’s store (renamed ‘The Post Office Store’). The Ivanhoe Post Office building, though it has been renovated in recent years, still stands adjacent to its original site. When visiting Ivanhoe clearly heritage factors are important.
In 1879 a police presence was maintained at Ivanhoe to protect local residents from the Hatfield Bushrangers.
There is a remote possibility for Ivanhoe to be encounted when travelling the far distant western region of NSW, but that is unlikely. The drive to Ivanhoe though is interesting and should not be missed.