Wantabadgery, a small village about 30km south east of Junee has a longer European history than any other part of the Junee Shire. In December 1929, explorer Captain Charles Sturt and his party was led by two Wiradjuri men to the area known to them as Pondebadgery. Sturt was impressed by the rich soil of the flood plain and the grazing potential of the area.
James Thorne (sometimes shown as Thorn) took up the Wantabadgery Run of 108 square miles (27,600ha) in 1831. The run extended from the Murrumbidgee north to Merribindinah, west to Oura and Jewnee (Junee) Runs and east to Nangus Run.
It was later taken up by Walter Orton Windeyer in 1856 and on his death in 1879, was taken over by Fred Dangar and the Macdonald brothers, Falconar and Claude, who ran the day to day working of the property and in 1896 purchased the Dangar share.
Angus McKinnon was one who came to the area with a bullock team in 1875 and acquired what was known until recently as “Glen Mary” at the corner of the Junee, Wagga and Nangus roads. It remained in his family’s hands until 1944 while he acquired substantial properties elsewhere including “Panuara”,” Arcaroola” and “Loma Langi” at Junee Reefs, the first two still held by his descendants. Edmund McGlede also selected land on the Eurongilly Road and achieved some fame there in 1879, albeit unwillingly.
On November 15, 1879, the “Moonlite” gang of six bushrangers held up the Station homestead and then Patterson’s Australian Arms Hotel and in a shoot out on November 17 at McGlede’s shanty on the Eurongilly Road, were either captured or killed. “Moonlite” and one of his gang were later executed in Sydney.
“Moonlite’s Lookout” on the big hill west of the village was allegedly used by the gang while watching for police but on examining records, considering the locations where action occurred and the timeframe, this is most unlikely.
Wantabadgery was declared a village in 1885 and was by then occupied by small selectors and families who worked for the Macdonalds who improved the property so that by about 1910, it ran about 58,000 sheep, 1000 cattle and 100 horses. There is anecdotal evidence that an existing woolshed near the village was largely replaced by a 22 stand building towards the northern end of the Run on what is now the Crane property. This would have been beneficial for those carriers who carted wool to the nearest railhead at Junee as the numerous creek crossings from the village would have been very difficult.