Pioneers of the Bellinger ValleyPrint Page
The Bellinger Valley remained insulated from white colonisation for several decades due to its inaccessibility. The sand bar at the river mouth proved a problem for seafaring vessels and deterred the efforts of early maritime explorers. It was only a matter of time, however, before an overland expedition was organized.
In 1841, Clement Hodgkinson, government survey from the Macleay, led a small exploration party along the banks of the two rivers. They were impressed by the wealth of cedar and the rich alluvial river flats, and returned to Kempsey to signal their discovery. Hodgkinson named the main river the ‘Billingen’ – an aboriginal word meaning ‘clear water’.
In 1841 William Miles, a stockman from Kempsey, was the first European to enter the Bellinger Valley. He recognised the rich potential of the cedar, which abounded in the area. The following year the Northumberland crossed the bar at the site of modern day Urunga. It heralded a ‘tree rush’ with cedar cutters moving into the area, cutting the trees and waiting for the floods to move the trunks down to the river mouth. The cutters were followed by farmers who, recognising the rich potential of the river valley’s alluvial soils, grew maize and grazed dairy cattle. Although settlement began in the Macleay valley in the 1830s and the Clarence in the 1840s, land in the Bellinger valley was largely unsettled until the 1860s.
The “Robertson Land (Settlement) Act” of 1863 threw the land open to settlement. Holdings of up to 320 acres were available for “selection” on a conditional lease basis for a few shillings a year.
|Address:||Morgo Street, Urunga Museum, Urunga, 2455|
|GPS Coordinates:||Lat: -30.496978|
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
|Approx. Event Start Date:||1841|
|Approx. Event End Date:||1938|
|Actual Monument Dedication Date:||Saturday 4th December, 1965|
TO THE SHIPS AND THE MEN
WHO PIONEERED OUR VALLEY
ERECTED BY THE BELLINGER VALLEY
ROTARY CLUB OF BELLINGEN