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Home > About the Region > History of the Region > Michelago - A Brief History

Michelago - A Brief History

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The present day Michelago Village is in a wide valley about half-way between Canberra and Cooma. The village lies just off the Monaro Highway, to the east and with the Tinderry Range as a noble backdrop. To the west is the The Clear Range and out of view, the Murrumbidgee River.

Originally, the village site was to the north of the Michelago Creek, with a collection of slab, stone and timber buildings, haphazardly following the route to the Monaro. Some still remain intact, others are in a forlorn state of disrepair and as is common, only a remaining chimney.

Michelago or Mikelago?

There were numerous versions of the spelling of its name and almost as many reasons for the name. No matter how it was spelt, it was always pronounced the same, with a slight Irish twist. Michelago, Micalago, Micaligo, Mikelago, Mikelego, & Miklego, are most of the names recorded. The two names adopted –‘Michelago’ for the Village with the coming of the railway in 1887 and ‘Micalago’ was retained for the Ryrie’s (sheep) station. The origin is thought to be an Aboriginal word ‘Micki’, meaning lightning. The Monaro and its early runs, also varied in spelling and again, were derived from the native dialect.


The original inhabitants of the area were members of the Ngarigo tribe; these were the “true explorers, pathfinders & discoverers” of thousands of years. Small groups would lead a nomadic lifestyle, with numbers increasing dramatically to 400-500 as the tribe gathered for corroborees, initiation ceremonies (from which women & children were barred ) and the annual gathering of the Bogong Moth. For several months of the year the moth was in abundance in the high peaks, in caves and crevices. They provided protein for the people, giving them a sleek and well nourished appearance. A remote area in the Tinderries was a meeting ground for other tribes, some travelling from the South Coast, to take part in various activities.

Ngarigo numbers declined rapidly after white settlement. Some were companions, guides, as well as shepherds and stockmen. Apart from conflicts arising between both parties, diseases introduced by europeans and the availability of liquor played a large part in their demise. Outbreaks of smallpox in 1830, influenza and measles in the 1860’s are also recorded.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 June 2011 21:06  


Join the MRCA

The Michelago Region Community Association (MRCA) represents our local community and is actively involved in advancing the interests of Michelago and region. We need your ideas, so please consider joining! 

The subscription for 2020 is still a mere $10 per person or $15 per family. Just fill in our membership form (pdf, 144Kb) and email to mrca@michelagoregion.org.au or drop at the store.

MRCA Meetings

MRCA meetings are normallyheld monthly at the Michelago General Store at 6:30pm on the first Tuesday of the month.  Due to Covid-19 social disctancing rules the meetings will be held as video conferences.  We welcome your participation and will post details of the next meeting shortly.

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