The Manning Valley is located on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales and located within its boundaries are the locations you will fly over.

Taree

In 1770 Captain Cook first sailed up the eastern coast of Australia and identified and named ‘The Brothers’, a group of three mountains – South, Middle and North Brother Mountains.

The Biripai, Ngamba and Worimi Aborigines lived in the district and it is probably from them that the word ‘tareebit’, which supposedly is the name for a local fig tree, comes. The Aborigines lived off seafood and fish as well as tropical fruits from the rainforest

John Oxley was the first to explore the Manning Valley in 1818 and named the settlement of Harrington at the mouth of the Manning River.

Taree and nearby Cundletown were settled in 1831 by William Wynter and have become the centre of a significant agricultural district. Taree is 16 km from the coast and 317 km north of Sydney and located inland from the mouth of the Manning River. Taree can be reached by train via the North Coast Railway, by car on the Pacific Highway and by air from Sydney. The railway station is on the North Coast line and is serviced by six NSW Train Link trains daily: three heading to Sydney, another three heading North to Grafton, Casino or Brisbane.

Taree is within the local government area of Mid-Coast Council, the state electorate of Myall Lakes and the Federal electorate of Lyne.

Crowdy Head Lighthouse

The lighthouse is 7.3 metres above the ground and 61 metres above sea level with a range of 16 nautical miles. It was built from local stone in 1878 and automated and de-manned in 1928. In 1878 it replaced a pilot station which had been built at Harrington in 1860. Designed by colonial architect, James Barnet, the light was converted to mains electricity in 1972.

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Harrington Crowdy Head area was occupied by the “Biripi” Aborigines who lived mainly off the rich supplies of fish and shellfish in the area.

Harrington

Harrington is at the mouth of the Manning River 336 km north of Sydney and is 34 km north-east of Taree. John Oxley travelled through the area in 1818 and named the mouth to the Manning River, the Harrington Inlet, after the Earl of Harrington. Harrington was settled as a sleepy fishing village. In recent times the town has grown as a result, housing estates, shopping villages, clubs and a golf course.

In the nineteenth century dangerous sand bars off the coast at the mouth of the river resulted in a number of vessels being shipwrecked while attempting to enter the Manning River.  A long breakwater has been built to alleviate the problem. In the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century boats entering the river were brought across the bars by pilots familiar with the dangers and the shallow shoals.

Today the locals fish near Harrington and bring in good catches of snapper, bream, blackfish and whiting. Beyond Harrington is the charming fishing village of Crowdy Head with its 1878 lighthouse and its substantial fishing fleet.

Old Bar

Old Bar is a coastal town that lies 16 kilometres east of Taree and 315 kilometres north of Sydney. Old Bar is on the southern side of the mouth of the Manning River and is the only double delta river in the southern hemisphere and the only other multiple-entrance river in the world other than the Nile River in Egypt.

Before exiting to the ocean, the Manning River carves out several islands, including Dumaresq, Oxley, Jones, Mamboo, Cabbage Tree and Mitchells Islands. Before roads existed, people used to come down the Manning River in boats from Taree to picnic and camp at Old Bar. Today, Old Bar is a growing community with an extensive foreshore reserve adjacent to the town centre, housing the surf club. Old Bar has a Tavern, a bowling club and a  Caravan Park right on the beach which has camping, van sites and modern cabins for hire.

During the October Long Weekend the Old Bar Beach Festival is held, which includes a world record VW Kombi gathering event, live entertainment and many market stalls.

The Old Bar Heritage airstrip is used by light aircraft and emergency services helicopters and is popular with General Aviation and Recreational Aviation enthusiasts on most weekends and holidays.

The airstrip was used in as a re-fueling location for the early Sydney to Brisbane airline flights of the 1930s and was an RAAF base during WWII. Famous aviators Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, Harry Hawker, Nancy Bird-Walton and P.G Taylor used the airstrip during their pioneering flights.

Ellenborough Falls

Ellenborough Falls are located on the Bulga Plateau at Elands and is a high-flowing waterfall plunging off the cliffs surrounding the Ellenborough Gorge. At 200 metres, the Falls are the 3rd longest single drop waterfall in the country and 2000 feet (600m) above sea level.

The Ellenborough Falls Reserve covers an area of approximately 130 Ha, 80% of which is heavily vegetated with an extensive diverse range of indigenous flora including: Cool Temperate Rainforest: Booyong, Coachwood, Myrtle/viney scrub, Sclerophyll Forest: Sydney Bluegum, Tallow-wood, Red Mahogony, Brush Box; Heathland: Banksia, Vimminaria spp.

Both the Ellenborough Falls and the nearby Bulga Falls exist on major fault lines that are approximately 30 million years old of the Tertiary period.

At the top of the Falls the bedrock of the Bulga Plateau (siltstone, sandstone, mudstone) is exposed in the river bed. These rocks were formed some 280 million years ago in the Permian period. On the western face of the gorge rocks date back even earlier to the Cambrian period, some 550 million years ago, examples of the oldest rock formations of the Manning/Hastings region.  This rock is much older and harder than the rocks on the eastern side of the gorge. At that time in history these rocks were below sea level and Australia lay closer to the equator.

Local Aboriginal History

Elands was a seasonal gathering place for the local Biripi People, the sea, coast and forest of the lower rivers provided an abundance of food. With the encroaching settlement of the white man and subsequent disruption of the ecological balance, the Biripi’s hunting, food gathering and fishing patterns were destroyed. The Falls country averages 600m at the head waters of the three major rivers, Manning, Hastings and Macleay, was the last refuge for many tribal people who retreated in front of the white settlements spreading deep into these river valleys in the early 1800’s. A series of murders and massacres by European settlers reaching a peak in the 1840’s and 1850’s decimated the tribal populations in the upper reaches of the Manning, Hastings and Macleay rivers.

Aborigines had a track over the Bulga plateau that was used by the Biripi people to unite with neighbouring tribes for ceremony. Bulga means waterfall in the local Biripi (Kattang) language. The Spirit of the rainbow serpent (Ulunga), the mother of life, can be experienced in the colour of the rainbow. (Watch the waterfall and see the rainbow in the mist).

The rainbow serpent is the mother of life to most Indigenous tribes. She is responsible for the colour and shape of the land we live in. She bestowed human form as a gift for keeping her law. The rainbow serpent brought the earth to life, pushing out from within the earth to form the mountains and hills. She called to the frog tribe to release the waters they had stored in their bellies over the land, to make the rivers and the lakes. She then called on the good spirit Biami, the ‘sun’ to help her find light.

​First white settlement on the Bulga started around 1892 with cattle grazing in 1899.  The earliest roads across the plateau were just trails cut through the tall timbers and followed as far as possible the ridge tops. The present main road has little relationship to the original trail that was used mainly by horse and buggy and bullock teams. In 1910 it was replaced when a road was built up the Plateau from Bobin and in 1912 farms became available for settlement and so, the arrival of the first dairy farms.

The first Elands post office was in 1914 and a timber mill opened in 1917 to capitalize in the Cedar, Brush Box, Tallow-wood and Beech trees that grew abundantly on the Bulga. By 1920 a thriving community with a regular income from dairying and timber had emerged. The collapse of dairying in the 1960’s saw many families moving from the area and 2 of the 3 schools closed.

For a full account on history of the Bulga Plateau seek out “The Mountain Speaks” authored by Helen Hannah and take a leisurely visit to the Wingham Museum.

Forster-Tuncurry

Captain Cook sailed past the area in 1770 and Matthew Flinders in 1799. Two ships were wrecked off Cape Hawke in 1816 and the captain of one of the ships, his wife, child and two crew reached Newcastle. The rest were presumed drowned. The town was known as “Minimbah” until it was surveyed in 1869 when it was renamed after William Forster, the Secretary of Lands (1868-1870).

Tuncurry was known as North Forster until 1875 when John Wright set up camp there. He adopted the local “Worimi” Aboriginal place name “Tuncurry” which probably meant “plenty fish”. Forster was founded in 1862 and was proclaimed a town in 1961. In 1959 it was linked by a 600m bridge to Tuncurry. Both towns draw heavily on the resources of the lake, of which yield fish, prawns, and oysters for Sydney, 225 km southwest.

Forster-Tuncurry is a typical holiday resort with lots of accommodation; plenty of takeaway food and local seafood cafes; pleasant fishing, surfing and swimming areas and a lazy holiday ambience. The coast and the Booti Booti National Park lies to the South of the town and is ideal for birdwatching and bushwalking. In 1818, John Oxley carried a boat from Booti Booti to Boomerang Beach where they spent the night. Oxley named Wallis Lake after the commandant of the penal settlement at Newcastle. The area was a million-acre land grant given to the Australian Agricultural Company in 1825. They found the soils poor and the grant reverted to the crown. By 1831 timber cutters were around Cape Hawke. They scoured the rainforests for cedar and pine, using the Wang Wauk River and Wallis Lake to float logs to the coast. By the 1850’s Chinese shepherds were fishing off the coast and drying their wares for sale in Sydney, on the goldfields and overseas. The Godwin family took up land at Cape Hawke in 1863. George Godwin sent wild honey and Cape Hawke oysters to Sydney. One of his daughters was the first white person to be born in the area. A school opened in 1870 and a pilot station was operating at the entrance to Wallis Lake in 1872.

John Breckenridge established a saw mill and a store on the townsite in 1871 and engaged in shipbuilding as the waterways were virtually the sole means of transport at the time. The Breckenridge sawmill and store doubled as a post office and a hall. The first hotel in Forster was built in 1874

The first church (Methodist) in Forster was built in 1876, the year the first constable arrived and a school of arts was built in 1878 and a second store was opened the following year. By 1878 Wright had established a sawmill, a store, a shipbuilding yard and houses for his employees at Tuncurry.

Timber cutting, milling, shipbuilding and fishing were the principal industries in the early days with sailing ships carrying fortnightly cargoes to Sydney.

The first oyster lease at Forster was granted in 1884, the year of a typhoid outbreak at the settlement.  Tuncurry’s Catholic Church was built in 1888 and a post office opened at Tuncurry in 1889.

A rowboat to transport people and goods from Forster to Tuncurry started operating in 1890. Tuncurry was proclaimed a village in 1893 and Tuncurry’s first hotel and hall were built in 1894 an ice-works in 1895. Two Italian immigrants transformed the fishing industry of Tuncurry in the 1890’s and a breakwater was built on the southern side of the Wallis Lake entrance between 1900 and 1903.  A butter factory was built at Tuncurry in 1917.

The first vehicular ferry from Forster to Tuncurry started operating in 1922 and in 1959 the bridge across Wallis Lake joined the two towns.

Myall Lakes

The term “Myall” could be an Aboriginal word used to describe “wild Aborigines”. The Myall Lakes National Park lies to the East of Bulahdelah and is the largest natural freshwater lake system on the NSW coast. Myall Lakes are located approximately 267 km north of Sydney.

They cover 31,000 ha of headlands, forests, swampland, forest fringes to the West and nearly 10,000ha of coastal lagoons, which include Myall Lake, Boolambayte Lake and Bombah Broadwater. They are linked by narrow waterways to form a continuous lake system which is joined to Port Stephens by the lower Myall River, which becomes saline as it reaches Port Stephens.

Myall Lakes National Park is a popular holiday and camping destination. Its extensive waterways are ideal for sailing, surfing, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, sunbathing, swimming and water skiing and there are extensive bushwalking trails. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Myall Lakes area was inhabited by the “Worimi” and “Birpai” tribes.

Between 1957 and 1966, rutile and zircon were mined from the outer dune barrier and in 1965 the Sim Committee was established to investigate sand mining. In 1972 15,000ha of land was declared the Myall Lakes National Park and in 1977 the government banned sand mining in National Parks.

Sugarloaf Point

In 1770 Captain James Cook travelled along the coastline on his journey from Port Hicks to Cape York. He did not stop or identify the lakes. In 1790 five escaped convicts wrecked their stolen sailing boat on the north shore of Port Stephens. They were the first Europeans in the area. By the 1860’s there were railways through the area to carry the timber out to Newcastle and Sydney.

The recommendation for a lighthouse to guard Seal Rocks was made in 1863 but because of access difficulties the location finally chosen in 1873 was Sugarloaf Point and construction was completed in 1875 and the light was first lit on 1 December 1875.

By the mid-19th century the Aborigines had been driven away by timber cutters, boat builders and the establishment of small villages near the lakes at Nerang, Bulahdelah, Neranie, Mayer’s Point and Bungwahl were established.