The Richter Caves

These history notes are contributed to Valley Ventures by one of our members, Max Farley.

There are Caves in the Yarramalong Valley which years ago captured wide attention. Though the early timber getters would no doubt have known of their existence, the Caves did not excite interest until 1890 when “found” by a local sawmill proprietor, John Richter. An engraving made at the time on a rock face read “These Caves were found by J E Richter in 1890”. Sightseers were attracted when the Gosford Times of 11 April 1902 wrote that “this curiosity of nature cannot be found by a stranger owing to the dense forest surrounding”. Richter acted as guide for visitors. Today the Caves are rarely visited largely because of their inaccessibility. They are said to be on the left hand (northern) side of Forest Road about 6.5 km from the corner of Bumble Hill Rd. Then an estimated 300 metres down.

An engraving on a rock face at the Richter's Caves Flora Reserve.

An engraving on a rock face at the Richter’s Caves Flora Reserve. Image: GosfordWyongHistoricSites

The Times said the Caves “are a remarkable instance of the process of weathering… in many instances the projections run to a length of six feet or more and present some designs of different forms which become quite bewildering to the beholder. These strange forms approximately represent deers’ horns, wings of birds, elephants’ ears, dish bowls etc… In some places forms like sponges or honeycomb are hanging from the ceiling; also cows’ udders with teats of various lengths and shelvings… on which eagles’ nests are perched.”

Few of today’s residents would have heard of the Caves and just as few would know of John Richter. However, if one were to accept without question everything said of him he was one of the most interesting persons ever to have lived in the Valley.

John Ernest Richter was born in Germany in 1840 and came to Australia in 1844 with his parents. The parents were headed for Queensland naively determined to bring religion to the Aborigines. Their efforts were unsuccessful and the family very soon came south, first to Victoria then to New South Wales. In 1862/1863, they moved to New Zealand following the discovery of gold there. John married in 1878 and returned to NSW in 1881 with his wife Jenny. By all accounts he had a sawmill in Wyong Creek by 1883.

A portion of the 1922 Ourimbah Parish map showing Samuel Richter's 40 acre portion and the approximate location of Richter's Caves.

A portion of the 1922 Ourimbah Parish map showing the Richter family’s 40 acre portion and the approximate location of Richter’s Caves. Image: GosfordWyongHistoricSites

Richter is said to have played many roles. However, much of this is found in a letter he wrote to his daughter at Rockhampton. The letter is reproduced in the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin of 3 July 1909. In essence, it said he:

  • participated in bloodthirsty conflicts with Aborigines in Queensland and suffered three spear wounds one of which went through his abdomen.
  • was “called upon… to battle with and hunt the blacks out of” the district of Gin Gin in Queensland.
  • explored extensively in Queensland and New Zealand.
  • had a New Zealand lake, Lake Richter, and caves carry his name.
  • built “the first building of any pretensions” put up in Rockhampton. Previously there had been only two bark huts and a “smithy”.
  • prospected with some success for gold at Canoona and Port Curtis in Queensland.
  • was a carpenter, builder, poet, writer and artist.
  • wrote “it was I who invented the first (breeching rifle) in London in 1867”.
  • was an inventor who held Patent No. 9531 for improvements for felloe saws. This is true.

Space does not allow a full explanation but there is a likelihood that John had an elder brother, Ernst, who explored and prospected in Queensland in the several years before 1862. This leaves open the possibility that Ernst Richter and John Ernest Richter were one and the same person because John claimed these exploits and achievements. The exploits and achievements themselves call for confirmation.

John’s family life was complex. His wife appeared to play no continuing role. There were no children from this marriage. This is not to say he, personally, had no children. It seems he had a daughter, Florence Richter, who was an actress of renown and performed throughout Australia. Details of her private life, including her birth, are obscure. It has also been written that Richter had a son who was born in 1889 and died in 1965. The records about this son are inconsistent.

Richter’s life in Wyong Creek from 1883 until his 1913 death in Sydney also lacks certainty. It seems likely he spent most of his remaining forty years living alone in Wyong. This would have been a major change in lifestyle for a man who had told how he had spent the earlier part of his life adventuring.

Evidence that Richter was a storyteller comes in his own words. In the 1909 letter he wrote to his daughter in Rockhampton he said that about two months previously he had stood under a veranda at Wilkinson’s Department Store in Wyong one very wet day telling a party of twelve men, mostly strangers, of his escapades. He clearly enjoyed impressing an audience.

Apart from the existence of the Richter Caves many of the details of his story have yet to be either confirmed with contemporary evidence or discounted. Every word may indeed be true. Or not.

John Richter offered some extra comments on two of his contemporaries in his 1909 letter to his daughter which appeared in a Rockhampton publication on 3 July 1909. Richter wrote that in 1862:

Mr Limmitson (Linnertson) of Wyong Creek was working for a sawmill at Wisemans Lagoons, about a mile west of Rockhampton. Henry Levett (of Wyong Creek) was also on the Dawson River Country about that time.

Hamilton Hill snr of Yarramalong was there… The blacks took a set on Hamilton, for, as you know he was not a prepossessing man, even to the people of his own (“Ham” Hill could not have been offended because he had died in 1905).

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SOURCES: Max Farley; A Pictorial History of the Wyong Shire, Volume 1-5, Edward Stinson. Image Source: GosfordWyongHistoricSites

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Gold in the Wollombi Hills?

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This news report of a new goldfield in the Wollomi Hills west of Wyong, was published just six months after gold was first discovered in New South Wales.

1851-08-15_Empire_Gold Wollombi Hills

Gold found in the Wollomi Hills. Source: The Empire, Sydney, 15 August 1851

On February 12, 1851, Edward Hammond Hargraves (1816–1891) discovered gold near Bathurst, at Lewis Ponds Creek. Hargraves had recently returned from the California Gold Rush where he had been unsuccessful in finding the mother load; but he realised that some areas of New South Wales had similar geological features to the goldfields of California. This inspired him to return to Australia to prove gold could be found here.

Edward Hargraves was accompanied on his prospecting expedition by John Hardman Lister and James Tom, he showed them the tricks of the trade and how to pan for gold. When they found five flecks of gold, Hargraves went to Sydney alone and left the others to continue the search. He announced his discovery and received the £10,000 reward for being the first person to find gold and claim it. He was also appointed Commissioner for Crown Land for which the Victorian Government paid him £5,000. He only claimed £2,381 before the funds were frozen after James Tom protested. An enquiry was held in 1853 which upheld that Hargraves was the first to discover a goldfield. Shortly before his death in 1891 a second enquiry found that John Lister and James Tom were responsible for discovering the first goldfield.

Edward Hammond Hargraves (1816-1891)

Edward Hammond Hargraves (1816-1891)

The following news report from the South Australian Register, Wednesday 3 March 1852, gives a progress report on Edward Hargraves’ travels as Commissioner of Crown Lands, and reports his opinion that Wollombi would never prove to be a prospector’s paradise.

We are happy to announce that Mr. Hargraves yesterday reached Maitland on his way to the various auriferous localities disclosed to the northward. As the result of Mr. Hargraves’s prospecting tour southward has been made public by the Government, we need not now advert to it. Mr. Hargraves left Sydney a few days since for his northern tour, overland, provided with two men, pack horses, &c.; and occupying a day or two around Brisbane Water, he ascertained that the Wyong Creek (flowing from the Wollombi Hills to the sea, and on which some time since it was reported gold had been found) was not an auriferous country, and that any gold found there must have been taken there first.

We believe Mr. H. leaves Maitland this morning for the Paterson, from whence he will make his way over towards the Company’s Stations, Port Stephens, and thence will take the ‘Bridle-Path’ to the New England tableland. Then, selecting Tamworth, or some other convenient place as head-quarters, he will visit the various auriferous localities disclosed to the Mate Maitland Gold Reward Committee, and if which the Government was informed by that Committee, and will also visit the Hanging Rock Diggings, or other new auriferous localities in that quarter, of which authentic information is furnished. Then, proceeding further north, he will make his way to the various auriferous localities stated to be found towards Moreton Bay.

The object of this prospecting tour is, we believe, not so much to discover new fields, as to ascertain and verify the character and extent of those disclosed by various individuals with a view to report thereon to the Government, who are desirous as early as possible of verifying and making public the existence of any profitabe gold fields that may be found in this or any other portion of the colony. Bearing this in mind, it will be seen that Mr. Hargraves’s movements must be necessarily somewhat erratic and uncertain, as at any part of this tour disclosures may be made in the northern districts that may modify the arrangements he has now in view.”

Hargraves was never a gold miner and instead made money from writing and lecturing about the Australian goldfields. He wrote a book about his discovery titled Australia and its Goldfields: a historical sketch of the Australian colonies from the earliest times to the present day with a particular account of the recent gold discoveries., published in 1855.

In 1856, Hargraves purchased 640 acres of land at Noraville and Budgewoi on the Central Coast of New South Wales. He built a large homestead and stockyards, and his property produced most of the food required for his family, his servants and his numerous guests. In 1877, Hargraves was granted a pension of £250 per year by the Government of New South Wales, which he received until his death.

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Even if, in Edward Hargraves’ opinion, the Wollomi Hills are not “auriferous country” – I think I may invest in a second-hand metal detector and do a spot of prospecting next time I am in the area. You never know!

SOURCES: Trove Digital Newspaper Archive; Australian Dictionary of Biography; C. Swancott, The Brisbane Water Story, vol 4; A Pictorial History of the Wyong Shire, Volume 1-5, Edward Stinson. Panning for Gold illustration, Susan Buck.

The Valley’s industries

These history notes are contributed to Valley Ventures by one of our members, Max Farley.

The Central Coast was a by-passed district in its early days with the only realistic access to the Sydney market being by water from Gosford. Yarramalong Valley residents had the additional task of first getting their goods down the Valley to Gosford. The handful of early settlers were, however, subsistence farmers who relied on the few animals they had and on the food they grew for themselves. Trees were only felled to make rudimentary shelters for the family and to clear land for growing vegetables and crops and to make space for animals and poultry.

Timber

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Yarramalong Valley timber cutters

These few words cannot tell the Valley’s timber story in any detail. As more settlers arrived in the latter part of the 1800s the potential to sell cut timber grew. When the Great North Road was developed in the 1850s it became possible to send timber from the top of the Yarramalong Valley to Maitland in one direction and to Wisemans Ferry in the other. By the 1880s the easiest timber to access had been removed and it was not economic to spend effort cutting and transporting timber from higher up the Valley’s hillsides. The industry declined.

The situation changed dramatically with the opening of the railway line from Newcastle to Sydney in 1889. Transporting timber in quantity to those markets became possible. Yards for the loading of timber were established where the road from the Valley met the railway line. This was where the racecourse now is. A town, Wyong, was created. This new phase of the industry peaked about 1910 and began to fade when available trees were again becoming less available in the 1920s. With timber from the surrounding State Forests together with some regrowth, the industry continued for many years but on a vastly reduced scale. There are now no mills in the Valley.

Subsequent Industries

In 1906 it was said “that when the timber is gone, Wyong is done”. Happily this proved wrong.

The 1889 railway was not only a boon for timber. The access to the markets of Sydney and Newcastle in particular could be utilised by other industries which had been developing in the shadow of the timber industry. There were a number of these. Yarramalong Valley residents were well experienced in tending to cows, orcharding and poultry farming. It is not at all surprising those three activities expanded commercially to fill the timber void.

Dairying

WE_Book_Butter Factory

Other dates could be chosen to mark the beginning of commercial dairying in the Valley but the opening of a dairy in about 1890 by Anders Christenson at his home “The Cedars”, known as the “Stone House”, was important. It and its adjacent cheese house still remain at 595 Brush Creek Road. He also had a piggery and produced ham and bacon. From that date on, dairying expanded rapidly. In 1907 a co-operative, the Wyong Butter Factory, was set up near Alison Homestead. Farmers supplied cream to the Butter Factory to make butter which was sold in Sydney. By 1921, 200 dairy farmers were sending both milk and cream to the factory. It became known as the Milk Factory. The best dairying days were the 1950s, 60s and 70s before the industry declined. Land prices in the Valley increased to such an extent that for many it became preferable to sell out and put their capital to better use with less physical effort and a better life style.

Orcharding

WE_Book_24_Apple Orchard_Smith

Orange trees had been growing in limited numbers in the Shire for many years before the coming of the railway made citrus a commercial industry. The Salmon brothers of Wyong Creek introduced citrus into the Valley in the early 1900s and it became a major industry. Crops were not restricted to citrus but extended to persimmon and stone fruit. Both dairying and orcharding suffered a decline in the depression and after WW2 the necessary land areas were being reduced by urban growth. Large scale orcharding had virtually disappeared as a significant industry by the late 1960s.

Poultry Farming

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Early Yarramalong Valley free-range poultry farm

Poultry farming required relatively little land space and became a main industry when the citrus and dairying industries were declining. In 1961 the Central Coast was producing eight million eggs annually as well as large quantities of meat. However this industry lost its commercial significance in the Valley with the advent of egg production and poultry meat in “battery” cages. These practices do not exist in the Valley.

Change

Much changed in the latter quarter of the 1900s. Timber, dairying, orcharding and poultry farming largely disappeared. At the same time transport to other parts of the Central Coast to Sydney, Newcastle and the Hunter improved even more, particularly with the opening of the M1 (F3) freeway.

These changes had significant social effects. It became possible, particularly for Sydney people, to travel easily to the area and purchase full or part-time rural retreats and hobby farms. Land values increased (a mixed blessing perhaps); education and employment opportunities away from the Valley became available to all particularly women and young people. Cultural attractions not available in the Valley drew people to them.

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The Valley now boasts a variety of farm-stays, horse studs and even a few alpaca farms

Notwithstanding these many changes, the Yarramalong Valley has been able to retain much of its valued rural atmosphere. This is partly because a number of turf farms replaced dairies; properties devoted to horse care – breeding, spelling and riding – multiplied and specialist farms (alpaca, cattle breeding and grazing, deer, donkey, goat) appeared. Even bee breeding and, for a time, wine production. Hospitality activities (farm stays, function venues, dining locations) have emerged. There is no limit to the commercial possibilities available within the Valley to those with imagination and enthusiasm.

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SOURCES: Max Farley; A Pictorial History of the Wyong Shire, Volume 1-5, Edward Stinson.

The Beginning of Settlement

These history notes are contributed to Valley Ventures by one of our members, Max Farley.

Interest in the Yarramalong Valley started with cedar getters in the 1830s but Europeans had been travelling near and through the Valley for decades beforehand. Its proximity to the Great North Road (George Downes Drive) was alone sufficient to ensure this.

Ownership of private land began in 1840. The groundwork was unknowingly laid by Wyong’s pioneering Cape family. William Cape was a teacher and English immigrant. In 1823 he took over control of the Sydney Academy with his eldest son William Timothy to assist him. William senior put schooling aside to concentrate on Brisbane Water grants he and two of his sons had at what today we would call Wyong and Alison. They were relatively close to the coast.

William Timothy Cape [108-1863]

William Timothy Cape [1808-1863]

In 1827, William Timothy Cape became responsible for the Sydney Public School. One of his pupils was Richard Hill with whom the Capes formed a close connection. Hill would have become well aware of the Capes’ interests in the area.

Perhaps the real impetus that led to private ownership in the Yarramalong Valley started with the birth of three daughters of an emancipist, Francis Cox. Sarah Cox was born in 1806, Maria in 1809 and Henrietta in 1812. It can confidently be said that their choice of husbands led to the beginning of ownership of private land in the Valley.

Sarah married William Charles Wentworth the journalist, politician and explorer. Wentworth himself had no direct involvement with the Valley but was to smooth the way.

Maria married George Bloodworth, the son of a respected emancipist brickmaker. In the 1830s George was illegally removing cedar from Crown land in Jilliby, Yarramalong and beyond. He was not unique in this. Narara settler Frederick Hely, a one-time Principal Superintendent of Convicts, was doing the same. Bloodworth used leased land at Jilliby as a base. He apparently established a camp in a paddock immediately to the north west of Stephenson’s Bridge.

Frederick Augustus Hely [1794-1836]

Frederick Augustus Hely [1794-1836]

Henrietta Cox married Richard Hill. He had been born in 1810 as the son of an emancipated butcher. He was apprenticed as a carpenter. In the 1820s he managed Wentworth’s Vaucluse estate. Wentworth became his mentor. This led to Hill becoming a Member of the NSW Legislative Assembly (1868–1877) and of the Legislative Council (1880–1895). He had many other activities including being a pastoralist, hotelier, company director, large orchardist near Lane Cove River, magistrate, Agricultural Society Councillor and a founding member of the Aborigines Protection Board.

Hill knew of the Capes’ ownership of coastal land in the district. His new brother-in-law George Bloodworth, was operating inland in the nearby timbered Yarramalong Valley and would have drawn Hill’s attention to the Valley’s potential in a district with which Hill was already broadly familiar because of his connection with the Capes. He applied to purchase land as early as 1838. On 18 February 1840, he succeeded with a grant of 843 acres. This land went from near Yarramalong School down to and east along the southern side of Wyong Creek. It encompassed Stinsons Lane and the Yarramalong cemetery area. It has been incorrectly said that the grant was to Reverend Richard Hill of St James Church in Sydney. There was indeed a grant to the Reverend Hill but it was at Milbrodale in the Hunter.

An intriguing part of Hill’s grant was that it was made on the very day that George Bloodworth died – 18 February 1840. Was this just a coincidence and if not, why not?

Hill did not settle on his grant and possibly did not ever sight it. Significant private ownership and settlement in the Valley began c1853. By 1865 settlers had included the Balls, Beavens, Boyds, Durringtons, Fannings, Hills, Kellys, Kennedys, Lettes, Morans, O’Neills, O’Tooles, Stinsons, Tobins, Waters and Watkins. A number of these names remain familiar. They came from various places but largely from the Hunter and from Macdonald River. The Stinsons, Waters and Hills, for example, were from Hexham.

Map of Wyong Shire [by Jodi Hilton]

Map of Wyong Shire [by Jodi Hilton]

On 8 November 1854, Richard Hill sold his land to John Maximus Lette who had arrived in the Valley from Tasmania with his new wife the year before. Lette built a home on the eastern side of Stinsons Lane between Wyong Creek and the still-existing lagoon. Later the 843 acres were, in effect, divided into two with the section to the east of Stinsons Lane acquired by the Stinson family who were already large landowners in the district. The section to the west of Stinsons Lane went to the Hill family which included Alexander and Hamilton Hill. These Hills had no connection with Richard Hill the original owner. The relatively new and recently sold home at 1429 Yarramalong Road carries the name Hamilton Hill.

The settling of the Yarramalong Valley began long before Wyong township itself was established. This came about when the Sydney/Newcastle railway opened in 1887– 1889. Wyong became a transport centre for transporting timber.

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SOURCES: Max Farley; A Pictorial History of the Wyong Shire, Volume 1-5, Edward Stinson.

Kennedy’s Flat

These history notes are contributed to Valley Ventures by one of our members, Max Farley.

Kennedy’s Flat, for those who may not recognise the name, is the flat area along Yarramalong Road stretching westwards from Wyong Creek Hall almost to Boyd’s Lane. In earlier times it was a popular place for picnics and sporting events such as horse racing and wood chopping competitions.

Kennedy's Flat, Wyong Creek. [Google Maps]

Kennedy’s Flat, Wyong Creek. [Google Maps]

The name comes from that of William Kennedy about whom little is known other than that he was one of the very first Valley settlers. He came to the Valley in about 1854 and had 100 acres which included Kennedy’s Flat which is now dissected by Yarramalong Road.

The information about him in these notes is based on probabilities rather confirmed fact. What appears to be his death record says he was born in Ireland in 1814. It is likely he came freely to Australia in 1841/42. Why he did so is not known. Beryl Strom’s book History and Heritage (1982) merely says he was “of Sydney”.

Before residing in the Valley he married Margaret McGuire in 1851 when he was 37 and she 32. This marriage is recorded at St Marys Cathedral. Margaret, too, was from Ireland and was born in 1819. The records say she had been here for 56 years when she died in 1908. This suggests her marriage and arrival dates coincided. It is not known (to the writer anyway) what brought her to Australia. William and Margaret had three children – Mary in 1852, Annie in 1857 and a son, Edward Charles “Ned” Kennedy in 1863. Mary’s birth was registered in Sydney and Annie’s in Gosford. There is no official record of Edward’s birth but a handwritten note in the family Bible says he was born in Wyong on 5 March, 1863. For even more reasons unknown, his presumed father, William, seems to have moved alone to Maitland at about the time of Edward’s birth. He reportedly died there twelve months’ later.

In 1865 his widow, Margaret, married Simon Waight whose name was sometimes given as “Waite” or “White”. Margaret was a well respected Wyong Creek resident and known locally as “Granny White”. Historian Charles Swancott (Blue Gum Flat To Budgewoi, page 80) said that she “introduced blackberries to Wyong Creek”. Not something to be proud of but possibly untrue. The weed was introduced to Australia in the 1830s and quickly spread. It is difficult to believe it was unknown in the Valley until 1855 though the Valley’s isolation may have been a factor. Margaret and Simon were to be buried in Yarramalong Cemetery with the headstone showing them as Simon and Margaret Waight. Her death record, however, has her as Margaret White. They had a son, George, who remained in the Valley.

Kennedy family historians still have work to do (some has already been done and is reflected in these notes) to confirm the birth and death details of William Kennedy and the birth information of son Edward Kennedy. Edward was well known and highly respected in the Valley and continued to live at Kennedy’s Flat. In 1905 he and his wife, Nellie Waters, had three of their children die within weeks of each other from what the Gosford Times of 31 March claimed to be cholera though the diagnosis is doubtful. The children are buried in Yarramalong Cemetery. They had other children most of whom retained a connection with the Wyong area. It is believed the original Kennedy home was replaced in about 1907. The very recognisable home, much extended, remains at 878 Yarramalong Road.

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SOURCES: Max Farley; Wyong Museum & Historical Society Archives; Google Maps.

Pioneering Days by Thomas Murray

The following article by Wyong Creek pioneer, Thomas Murray was printed in the Gosford Times on 3 December, 1915.

Pioneering Days.

Interesting Reminiscences.

[By T. Murray, Wyong Creek.]

It gives me great pleasure to recount my experiences of pioneering days. To-day is significant to me, it being the anniversary day of our arrival in Brisbane Water district 33 years ago, our date or arrival being 27th November, 1882.

My father decided to try his fortune in this district, so, like ‘Dads Wayback,’ he with his wife and a family of ten children, set out from the old wharf, East Gosford, in the horse waggon of Mr Jules Sohier to trek to Wyong Creek. The road from Gosford was only a bush track, consequently slow travelling. Jerks and jolts gave us the impression that father was landing us in some wild and unknown region frequented only by dingo, kangaroo, wallaby, and native bear.

Our first halt was Blue Gum Flat (now Ourimbah). The town consisted of a pub, a store, and a butcher’s shop. Since that time Ourimbah has advanced rapidly, its people being maintained not only by timber as in olden days, but also by up-to-date orchards and dairies. On the track from Ourimbah we were confronted by the big hill, Kangy Angy. How pleased we were to reach the top, but how depressed when we elicited from the driver that he had 10 miles more of this wretched track before we reached our selection. On the northern side of Kangy Angy was the old home of Mr Joe Lees, who traded in timber and kept a butcher’s shop. At Cobb’s Hill, a little further on, on the side of which was one house and a school. Where the children came from it was difficult to say, but it was only one of the many landmarks which our early legislators’ forethought gave to the rising generation.

The travelling was rough and wearisome. We were now within a few miles of Mr M. J. Woodbury’s wine shop, and there we made a halt to rest and partake of the good things which this old hostelry always provided. “How far now, Driver?” “Just five miles,” and with his usual shout, “Gee up Darlin,” (the leader’s name) away we set off again for our destination. What a dreadful place – out of the world!

Drawing of Woodbury's Inn on the Old Mitland Road near Wyong Creek crossing. [Published in the Illustrated Sydney News, 15 March 1884.]

Drawing of Woodbury’s Inn on the Old Mitland Road near Wyong Creek crossing. [Published in the Illustrated Sydney News, 15 March 1884.]

A few miles on we came to Fanning’s old place, where Mr W. A. Trigg then lived. This is now one of the best dairy farms on the Wyong district, owned by Mr Ebbeck. It was previously owned by Mr John O’Neill, one of the early Pioneering families of the district. The homesteads on the track were Jack Linnerton’s, Tom Gam’s, Alec Boyd’s, and the nearest to our selection, Harry Lovett’s. There was a very small mill run on primitive lines.

Our selection lay on the northern side of Wyong Creek, and presented an almost insurmountable scrub. There was nothing for it but the endurance and pluck which characterised the early pioneers. The usual selector’s hut was our first effort, then into the scrub we went, but suffered severely, for we were not used to axe work. However, these difficulties were overcome, and I am pleased to record that although the trials were many, I have reared a family and established an orchard and a comfortable home, and in no way regret the experiences of a pioneering life. Our Wyong Creek district has now a public school, saw mill, post office, Church and an up-to-date Literary Institute.

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 Sources: Wyong Museum & Historical Society ArchivesTrove Digital Newspaper Archive.

Wallarobba Crossing

These history notes are contributed to Valley Ventures by one of our members, Max Farley.

There are little bits of history all around us. The more of these one recognises, the more interest the Valley offers.

Have you noticed a 20 metre uncut strip of land on the northern side of Yarramalong Road stretching down to the River? It is opposite 184 Yarramalong Road.

Local poet Bruce Walker had this to say in his Wallarobba:

There’s a little grassy laneway runs off the road to Wyong Creek,
It’s the haven of green coolness on a hot day that we seek,
Made there by the Bullockys a hundred years ago,
A watering place for bullocks as they travelled to and fro.

Bullock Team at Yarramalong [photo source Gary Gavenlock]

Bullock Team at Yarramalong [Photo source: Gary Gavenlock]

Bruce Walker explained that three bullock teamsters bought the lane over 100 years ago to have access to water for their teams. Eventually it was given to Wyong Council and in 1990 Council decided to sell it. Locals objected. As a result it remains part of the Valley’s heritage.

The laneway led to a crossing place over Wyong River used by Aborigines for centuries. It is understood the area’s first grantee, William Cape, used it take his stock into Dooralong Valley. It was known as Wallarobba Crossing.

Rev. Alfred Glennie, the Church of England rector for Brisbane Water (1851–1863), mentioned it in his diary notes of 28 September 1859.

Why Wallarobba or “Wallarabba” as Rev Glennie had it? There is a Wallarobba in the Dungog Shire and there may be reason to link the two. But that is for discussion at another time.

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SOURCES: Max Farley; Wyong Museum & Historical Society Archives; Historic Wyong Shire DVD by Gary Gavenlock.