Our History
explore our rivers past

We have gathered together artefacts from across the region and curated seven exhibitions delving into our rivers history.

Ahoy There

Before the development of road and rail infrastructure boats of all types and sizes were the only link many river and coastal communities had to the wider region and for producers the only way to transport their goods to markets or factories for processing. Boat builders and boat yards were an essential service to support the once thriving river trade of the Mid North Coast rivers.

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At Play

Swimming, surfing, sailing, rowing and other water sports abound on our rivers and nearby beaches. Rowing regattas were once the highlight of local sporting and social calendars with annual events on the Manning, Hastings, Macleay and rivers further afield. The regattas attracted a large number of spectators and professional scullers competed not only for trophies but also prize money. Swimmers and surfers add colour and spectacle to our riverside parks and beautiful beaches and sailing boats still catch our eye today with their graceful and seemingly effortless movement.

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Bringing Prosperity

Our lush and plentiful coastal environment supported timber and later dairying industries. Strong farming communities led to the establishment of sawmills and butter factories alongside our rivers. Punts were used to carry logs and cream boats collected cream and milk.

The need for reliable punts and boats also led to a strong boat building industry. As farming and trade grew, so did our towns and businesses. Our rivers brought and enabled that prosperity.

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Creating Memories

Our rivers can leave us with an indelible impression or memory. They are places for quiet reflection, of play or adventure, of work and prosperity, of new beginnings and of treasures lost or found.  They are also places of fond holiday memories and of long hot summers. Keepsakes of such prompt our memories and trigger the sights and sounds of our life experiences.

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Crossing The River

Our rivers were once the highways and byways of the region. Settlements and farms were established along and around the four rivers and their estuaries with boats of all shapes and sizes moving people and produce.

Once roads were established, river ferries and punts were used to cross our rivers and eventually bridges were built to connect communities to each other.

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Dangerous Waters

Long before the Pacific Highway and the North Coast Railway, travel to the Mid North Coast was by sea. Ocean travel was adventurous and perilous with ships and their crew, passengers and cargo at the mercy of the prevailing weather conditions and the skills of the ship’s captain.

Many ships and lives were lost in Mid North Coast waters, most of them whilst attempting to enter the safe harbours of our four rivers.

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Pescetarian Platter

Our pescetarian platter is full of oysters, fish and stories of those who once brought us the catch of the day

Fishing our oceans and rivers was and remains a pastime for locals and visitors alike. Commercial fishing fleets were located at most of our major coastal towns and some small fleets still operate today. Oyster farming is also one of the oldest industries in the region.

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