Before European settlement the Tallong area was inhabited by the Wodi Wodi people whose country stretched from the Illawarra coast inland to the Marulan area, south to the Shoalhaven Gorge and north to the Cataract and Cordeaux Rivers. Tallong lands situation on the border of Wodi Wodi territory and in close proximity to other inland groups – the Wandandian, Njunawal and Gandanjara peoples – is believed to have allowed many interactions with others for the purpose of trading, ceremonial, food gathering and hunting. The Aboriginal name for this land, Tallong, has been given meanings such as tongue of land or place of running water.
The first official European expedition to explore the area was led by James Meehan, Deputy Surveyor of Lands, in 1818. At the behest of Governor Lachlan Macquarie, Meehan, accompanied by Dr. Charles Throsby, Hamilton Hume, two Aboriginal guides and seven other men set out to find a route for wheeled vehicles from Parramatta to Jervis Bay. While this expedition failed when the party was unable to cross the Shoalhaven River, a survey and an evaluation of the agricultural potential of local lands was achieved.
By the early 1820s the first land grants in the Tallong area were being promised. By the end of the 1830s the three largest landholdings in the area were established: George Barber (Glenrock), Dr Patrick Hill (Caoura and Bosworth) and Robert Jenkins (Bumballa and Tallawa).
Due to its proximity to George Barber’s property, the area where Tallong village now stands became known as Barber’s Creek. When the Great Southern Railway was extended from Exeter to Goulburn in 1869, Barber’s Creek Tank was opened as a watering place for locomotives and Barber’s Creek station was opened for passengers in 1878. By the end of the nineteenth century Barber’s Creek was a small but thriving community with a church, school, a general store and post office. The station on the main southern rail line meant employment for locals and transport options for local industries such as fruit growing, mining, timber getting and quarrying.
In the early twentieth century, the settlement was officially renamed Tallong to prevent confusion with another Barber’s Creek in N.S.W. A major fruit growing industry developed in the area. Apples, pears and peaches were the most profitable fruits to grow but cherries, gooseberries, raspberries and currants also flourished. In 1917 the apple crop was estimated at 10,000 cases and the entries by the Tallong Fruit Growers’ Association regularly won first prize in the Apple Pyramid competition at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Tallong’s place as a major fruit growing area ended in 1965 when a bushfire burnt out most of the orchards, family homes and community amenities, causing many families to leave the district.
Since then however there has been a steady rebuilding of the area, gaining momentum at the end of the twentieth century with the subdivision of the large properties and the development of the gated community called Tallong Park Estate leading to an influx of younger families as well as retirees and tree-changers.
The Tallong community is an active one with a number of community groups providing services and activities for their members and the community as a whole. This includes St Stephens church.
The biggest event on the community calendar is the Apple Day Festival, held on the first Sunday in May.