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Tea Gardens, Hawks Nest and Northern Port Stephens

by Brian A Engel, Jan Winn and John Wark

This book contains an historical overview of European settlement which took place on the nothern shores of Port Stephens and along its Karuah and Myall River tributaries.

Settlement
Following the naming of the Port by Captain Cook in 1770, there were initially very few subsequent arrivals. Most were either convicts or emancipist overseers who invaded the region from around 1816 seeking cedar trees which they felled and shipped to Sydney and other destinations. This resource in the vicinity of the port was soon exhausted and the timber getters were forced to move their operations further north.

The first major settlement took place at Carrington in 1826 where the Australian Agricultural Company commenced operations on its land grant of one million acres, called the Port Stephens Estate. A small village was constructed at Carrington and the first Agent, Robert Dawson, set up his home on the adjacent Tahlee Point. Finding this coastal area to be unsuitable for sheep farming, the flocks were moved to the Stroud region which soon became the centre of the Company's operations.

In the 1830s the Company exchanged the eastern portion of its estate for more suitable land near Tamworth. All the sheep were removed from the Stroud area by 1857 and from then until 1873, only the Company Surveyor remained in Stroud where he arranged for the sale of the remainder of the Port Stephens Estate to pioneer settlers.

The land surrendered by the Company in the 1830s on the eastern side of the Myall River (Hawks Nest), extending north through the Myall Lakes to the Manning River, reverted to Crown Land and was made available for sale or lease from 1835. Few were interested at this time and it was not until the 1850s that settlers began to arrive. In the 1860s when timber getting became an important local industry, the Tea Gardens site was coveted as a good storage location for logs prior to their collection by visiting ships. Unlike Hawks Nest, the land on the western side of the Myall River was still owned by the A. A. Company and in 1866, in response to demand, a subdivision of Coweambah (later Tea Gardens) was drawn up, including a waterfront reserve of 99 feet (30 m) from the river bank.

tahlee1.jpg - 8944 Bytes cachurch.jpg - 8938 Bytes air02.jpg - 9528 Bytes aerialhn.jpg - 7863 Bytes 1. (top) The second Tahlee House which replaced the A. A. Co. building which was burnt down in 1860.
2. The convict built church at Carrington.
3. An aerial view of the Myall River, Tea Gardens and Port Stephens (late 1940s).
4. (bottom) An aerial view of Hawks Nest, viewed offshore from the beach.
First printed in October 2000.
Copyright © Brian A Engel, Janis Winn
& John Wark, 2000. All rights reserved.
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