January 2nd – St Columba Catholic Church, Uki

Uki Catholic Church and Convent - St Columba

The tiny village of Uki is home to just 765 people (Census 2011) and is situated on the Kyogle Road barely 10 minutes from Murwillumbah.

I passed through the village a little after 7am. The church is barely 100m off the main road, but caught my eye in the early morning light in the valley.

In fact I only caught it in passing and made a creative U-turn to go back and take this photo.

The church was opened in 1912 after a local farmer donated the land for this purpose. The convent house beside was built in 1922, where three sisters from Mary Mckillop were housed, and a schoolhouse was built the following year. The school remained in used until 1963.

The original carved wooden altar is still in use today.

The church is still used today, tendered by the Priest coming from Murwillumbah. All of the materials used to build the church were supplied by a local farm, and milled at Newell’s Sawmill in Uki.

Uki itself lies at the foot of Mt Warning (“Wollumbin” – or “Cloud Catcher”) and the Mount Warning National Park. The origin of the name is unknown, but the most common theory suggests cedar lopped from the area was marked “UK1” for export to the United Kingdom, and the name Uki was derived from this.

There’s plenty more to see along the picturesque Kyogle Road, with spectacular views of Mt Warning, Mt Burrell (Blue Knob and Sphinx Rock), Nimbin, or even the Margaret Olley Art Centre in the Tweed Regional Gallery in Murwillumbah.

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