Principal Superintendent of Convicts
Frederick Augustus Hely
was granted land in the area, as was
John Slade purchased land at Tuggerah Lakes in 1828 and
Robert Henderson owned land at Bungaree Norah. The Central
Coast land remained un-surveyed until this time due to the
lack of surveyors in the colony however with so much land
being granted it was necessary to accurately measure and map
the land so the government would have a clear idea of the
portions of land available for future applicants.
James Ralfe who arrived
as a free passengers on the
Hercules in 1825, was the first sent to effect these surveys and began with the areas
around Lake Macquarie in
1829. He set out on a second survey in January 1830
to complete the Lake Macquarie survey and to commence on the Tuggerah Lakes
area. On this trip he first
landed at Terrigal on the 12th January. On the following day he
set sail and landed 20 miles north at ‘Bundary Norah’ (Norah Head) where
some in the group visited the nearby dairy managed by Mr. Anderson
(Henderson) to obtain
flour and beef for the crew.
They left ‘Bundary Norah’ at daybreak the next day.
had conducted his surveys via the waterways however the next survey by
Felton Matthew was done
overland. On 21st
October 1830 Felton Matthew left his survey site at Broken Bay and ‘removed up the
water’ to commence surveying the creeks of the area.
On 25th October he left the Brisbane Water and walked to
Norah Harbour where he sailed to Sydney. He commenced surveying again in
December where he once again sailed to Norah Harbour before proceeding
overland to Anderson’s dairy where he checked rations and procured harnesses
before setting out to survey the Tuggerah Creek.
In the early days
of the century the prized red cedar trees were felled in the Hunter River
region however by the 1830’s these stands were dwindling.
The government, possibly concerned about reckless logging by all and
sundry prohibited the unlawful acquisition of the cedar. A limited number of
settlers were issued with licenses and were able to cut specified amounts.
the 1830’s when vast quantities of cedar were discovered in the mountain
ranges to the west of Tuggerah and Lake Macquarie settlers were quick to
exploit the forests once again.
Although a number of licenses were granted in the area, it was found to be
an easy task to ship the timber to Sydney because of the number of
Unauthorized ‘cedar gangs’ in the Tuggerah area, after bringing the logs
downstream from the ranges, would float the logs across the Tuggerah Lakes
to the area later known as Canton Beach from where they would be taken the
short distance overland to Cabbage Tree Harbour (Norah Head).
There was also a dray track from Wyong that passed through the scrub
around Tuggerah Lakes to farms near Budgewoi and Norah Head.
track to Cabbage Tree Harbour may have been used by the cedar
gangs to haul the logs using bullocks. From here it was an easy
task to ship the logs to Sydney. In 1833 several thousand feet
of timber was seized at 'Bungaree Norah' for being illegally
of these men in the ‘cedar gangs’ were untrustworthy characters
and settlers blamed them for theft and disruption in their
areas. A convict constable,
Robert Chitty was posted at Cabbage Tree Harbour to keep an
eye on the activities of unauthorized timber getters however by
1834 he had been summoned to Brisbane Waters. Chitty later
became a member of the notorious Jewboy
Gang and in December 1840 the gang returned to Chitty's old
Henry Donnison wrote to the authorities of the activities of
the gang -
The people of that place
told Mr Moore that they had been attacked by a party who cut
them off from three of their horses, but the men escaped.
Yesterday morning early the Bushrangers left Cabbage Tree and
proceeded to Wyong where I understand they got horses and robbed
the place and some drays that were stopping there, after which
they went in the direction of Newport which some other drays had
gone - My principal object in writing is to acquaint you that
the fellows stated that when they got horses they would proceed
to Liverpool plains, which is very likely and with a good
lookout on the Hunter they may perhaps be intercepted. They are
wary; when at Cabbage Tree they made 2 candles which were burnt
in the hut during the night, each man had his station at a tree
outside, with a double barrelled gun, so that had an attacking
party gone directly to the hut they would have been picked off.
Of the horses taken at Wyong I feel sure, from knowing the
stock, that 2 are grey. Robert Chitty, formerly scourger in this
District, is one of the party, and knows this part of the
country well. (4)
Settlers of the area were
also tempted to exploit the
valuable timber. In the 1830’s George Bloodsworth a cattle farmer of
Dooralong built a jetty and wharf at Cabbage Tree Harbour to transport cedar
obtained without a license to Sydney in his boat the “Alice”.
also used this wharf.
Edward Hammond Hargraves obtained land in the area, taking over
had belonged to Robert Henderson in the 1850’s.
Here he built a house in 1853, taking more than three years to
complete it. The ceiling was of hand carved solid cedar from the Yarramalong
Valley. The roof was of shingles which like many other buildings remain
under the iron roof. Edward Hargraves often entertained distinguished guests at
his home, transporting them by boat to Cabbage tree Harbour. He employed
maids, governesses and tutors as well as gardeners groom and stockmen.
The property provided much of the supplies needed such as beef,
chickens, dairy, fruit and vegetables as well as fish from the nearby ocean.
Goods such as flour, sugar and salt were usually brought from Sydney to
Cabbage Tree Harbour.
Hargraves was for
many years credited with discovering gold in Australia however there has
always been controversy regarding this claim.
Gold had been sighted prior to Hargraves claim, however the
Government, fearful of the consequences on business and the pastoral
industry if workers left for the goldfields, kept the discoveries quiet.
Hargraves had prospected for gold in
thought that similar
terrain in Australia would also yield gold. He organised the first
prospecting trip to discover gold in NSW.
Accompanying him were John Hardman Lister and James Tom.
Hargraves explained to these men how to make the cradle he had seen
on the Californian goldfields and then left for Sydney. Later in the year Lister and Tom moved to a different site,
later to become the site of the town Ophir and there they uncovered payable
gold. They sent news of their
find to Hargraves who announced the discovery.
Hargraves was eventually awarded a sum of £10,000 by the Government
for his discovery and was appointed Crown Land Commissioner.
Two official enquiries into Hargraves’ claim were made.
The first upheld his claim; the second held just before his death
dismissed his claim and awarded £1000 each to Lister and Tom.
Hargraves died 29th October 1899 in Sydney.
With the increase
in trade of cedar as well as the coal from Newcastle and supplies to local
settlers, many ships were sailing up and down the coast between Sydney and
Newcastle. It was inevitable
that some would fall foul of the sometimes treacherous conditions.
Dangerous reefs dotted the areas and squalls and storms were not
infrequent. In 1849
Lieutenant Yule of the schooner Bramble made the
following report to Captain Owen Stanley of a shoal he
had found that was not recorded on the coastal charts:
'The outer extremity of
the shoal is on a line with Bird Island and Bungarynora
Point. At intervals between the breaking of the rollers
I succeeded in getting soundings 3 fathoms, rocky
bottom. I observed continuous breakers from the outer
extremity of the shoal to Point Tuggerah, in a north
west direction sufficient to upset or swamp a small
coaster. The shoal may be avoided by keeping outside the
line I have mentioned, namely, Bird Island on with Bungarynora Point. I beg to add that I observed heavy
breakers extending a considerable distance from Point
Bungarynora, which should warn the smaller vessels to
keep well outside that point.
Early shipwrecks in the area include the
steamer built in Clarencetown in 1836 that sank after hitting a rock (Bulls
Head) near Norah Head on 29 August 1836; The Anne Maria a schooner
carrying cedar sank off 'Bungarees Noragh' on 21st July 1857 with loss of
one life; The Suffolk, a brig wrecked when chains parted during a
gale on 4th September 1859 four miles south of Norah Head; The Tim Wiffler capsized in 1871 during a squall off Birdie Island with loss of three
lives; the Esperanza in 1868 sank after being caught in a gale
with a loss of 10 lives; and the Janet Dixon a schooner carrying coal
sank near Cabbage Tree Harbour in 1871 in the area later
known as Jenny Dixon beach.
Added to the
frequent trading ships up and down the coast were the Italian fishermen and
their families who settled at Norah Head towards the end of the century.
The Rossetti and Russo families were among them and they sent their
catches of fish and lobster to the Sydney market.
waters continued to take ships and lives and in the early 1900’s it was
decided to build a lighthouse at Norah Head.
It was completed in 1903 and is in the Barnet style complete with a
bluestone balcony and large black and white floor tiles. The bases are
concrete and the towers are of preformed blocks cemented in place before
concrete rendering. The concrete blocks are made from local sand. As Bloodworth's jetty at Cabbage Tree Harbour had long
ago disintegrated, a new jetty was built to transport building material for
the lighthouse. The
construction was not without problems however and at one stage the day
labour was sacked due to lack of progress.
first lighthousekeeper, N. H. Williams enjoyed the benefits of the
brand new living quarters constructed adjacent to the lighthouse and was
required, along with his assistants, to keep the light operating and the
maintenance and cleaning and polishing of the light up-to-date. For the
first sixty years the light source was kerosene. In 1961 electricity was
connected and later a 1000w tungsten-halogen lamp was installed. There have
been many lighthouse keepers over the years however in 1983 plans were made
to automate the lighthouse and a lighthouse keeper as such was no longer
required. Today a caretaker resides on the premises.