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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Click to view La creme de la creme

La creme de la creme

This bronze steering wheel and gear box casing is all that remains of the Sunrise II, the last cream boat to operate on the Manning River. Custom built by boat builder Bill Ryan of Browns Creek, Taree in the early…

Click to view A Full Head of Steam

A Full Head of Steam

This now modified cast iron and steel pump was made by G & J Weir Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland in 1911 for the Indefatigable-class battle cruiser HMAS Australia. The flagship of the Royal Australian Navy, the HMAS Australia served in both…

Click to view All Accounted For

All Accounted For

This cargo manifest book records the cargo and passengers of the PS Ballina loaded at Port Macquarie during the 1870s for shipping to Sydney. It provides an insight into local farming by listing  each farmer or producer and details their…

Click to view Sound the Horn

Sound the Horn

This adapted bullock horn was owned and used by Hastings River boat trader, Francis Marchment. According to Marchment’s family the horn was sounded by Francis to alert farmers/settlers of his impending arrival, apparently being heard up to a mile away….

Click to view Model of SS Willirie

Model of SS Willirie

This model of the SS Willirie made by dairy farmer Frank Little in the late 1970s illustrates the method of cream collection for butter production from the early days of dairying until road transport took over in the 1950s. These…

Click to view Model of Log Punt

Model of Log Punt

This model of a log punt made by Frank Little in 1979 represents a vessel that was integral to the success of the timber industry on the coastal rivers of the Mid North Coast. Little, a farmer from Rolland Plains…

Click to view A Jumbo Steering Wheel

A Jumbo Steering Wheel

Constructed of cast iron with restored wooden handles, this steering wheel is from the drogher PS Jumbo, the last drogher to operate on the Macleay River.   Operated by the North Coast Steam Navigation Company she carried gravel, timber, logs and…

La creme de la creme

La creme de la creme

Circa 1950 / Learn more on Ehive
For many communities along the river, the cream boat was relied upon for communication and was an important part of domestic and social life for those along the river

This bronze steering wheel and gear box casing is all that remains of the Sunrise II, the last cream boat to operate on the Manning River. Custom built by boat builder Bill Ryan of Browns Creek, Taree in the early 1950s the Sunrise II collected cream from farms along the Manning River taking it to the Butter Factory at Scott’s Creek, Mitchells Island until the early 1970s.

Cream boats were built with a sleek and shallow draft to enable access to farms located along creeks and river tributaries but became redundant once road transport was improved. For many communities along the river, the cream boat was relied upon for communication and was an important part of domestic and social life for those along the river. The Sunrise II not only transported goods and produce, but people, mail, newspapers and domestic items too.

The steering wheel and gear box were manufactured by Haden’s Engineering of Taree and evidence the depth and breadth of technical and engineering skills available in the Manning area at the time. Unusually cast in bronze, it is reported that some of the boat skippers did not like the steering wheel as it was very cold to use in the early mornings of winter. The steering wheel and gear box were removed during the Sunrise II’s subsequent refit as a fishing trawler.

A Full Head of Steam

A Full Head of Steam

Circa 1911 / Learn more on Ehive
In 1921 HMAS Australia was decommissioned and over the next three years stripped of all useful equipment including this pump

This now modified cast iron and steel pump was made by G & J Weir Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland in 1911 for the Indefatigable-class battle cruiser HMAS Australia. The flagship of the Royal Australian Navy, the HMAS Australia served in both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans during World War I.

In 1921 HMAS Australia was decommissioned and over the next three years stripped of all useful equipment including this pump. It was one of two purchased at auction by the Wingham Butter Factory and adapted for factory use to pump boiling water for cleaning. It was in use until the factory closed in 1979. Pumps like this one were important to the function and mechanisation of the butter factory.

All Accounted For

All Accounted For

Circa 1870 / Learn more on Ehive
This manifest book records the cargo lost on the Ballina’s last journey on 13 February 1879

This cargo manifest book records the cargo and passengers of the PS Ballina loaded at Port Macquarie during the 1870s for shipping to Sydney. It provides an insight into local farming by listing  each farmer or producer and details their shipments including everything from coops of fowls to cedar boards, pigs to kegs of wine, with maize, wheat, wool, hides and oysters common entries.

The frequency of their shipping gives further insight into the size and scale of their farms and operations.  Many well known local traders and producers names are written in the book. This book also records the names of Sydney trader and produce agents of the time including [James] Henry Young, local Member of the Legislative Assembly for 24 years.

The PS Ballina was one of many ships wrecked at Port Macquarie on the Hastings River bar. This manifest book records the cargo lost on the Ballina’s last journey on 13 February 1879.

The book was used again in the 1920s to record detail of hours worked and material used by local builders James and Hastings Bourne, trading as Bourne Bros.  It suggests that the manifest book was stored, hidden or perhaps lost for about 40 years before being rediscovered and reused as an accounts book. The book lists details of building works carried out on a number of local buildings including schools, businesses and homes during the 1920s some of which survive either wholly or partially today.

Sound the Horn

Sound the Horn

Circa 1860 / Learn more on Ehive
According to Marchment’s family the horn was sounded by Francis to alert farmers/settlers of his impending arrival, apparently being heard up to a mile away

This adapted bullock horn was owned and used by Hastings River boat trader, Francis Marchment. According to Marchment’s family the horn was sounded by Francis to alert farmers/settlers of his impending arrival, apparently being heard up to a mile away. Many of the farms along the river were poorly or inaccessible by road and the arrival of river traders like Marchment would have been welcomed by isolated farmers and their families ready to trade produce, replenish supplies and hear news from afar.

Marchment would tie up his 3 ton cutter George Fran to the primitive farmer’s wharves mostly made from ti tree poles which jutted out into the river and collect their produce such as pigs, poultry, hides, corn, and salted beef, trading them for clothes, tea, sugar, flour and salt.

The horn was passed down through the Marchment family suggesting it was a highly valued personal object by the family and evidences their pride in their ancestor. Francis Marchment was also associated with the historic Port Macquarie Historical Museum building from 1881 to 1923. He used the building as a general store and residence for his wife and 9 children from 1881 to the 1890s before moving to Wauchope where he continued as a storekeeper and trader.

Model of SS Willirie

Model of SS Willirie

Circa 1970 / Learn more on Ehive
These steam powered launches were able to navigate relatively shallow areas of the waterways and reach dairy farms on small rivers and creeks as well as major rivers

This model of the SS Willirie made by dairy farmer Frank Little in the late 1970s illustrates the method of cream collection for butter production from the early days of dairying until road transport took over in the 1950s. These steam powered launches were able to navigate relatively shallow areas of the waterways and reach dairy farms on small rivers and creeks as well as major rivers.

The model, with its cream cans on the foredeck, the master and deck hand in the wheelhouse, and two women passengers demonstrates that these vessels not only carried cream to the butter factory but transported passengers between properties or to town. A canopy over much of the deck area gave travellers and crew protection from the sun and rain.  Some cream launch operators had contracts with stores in town to deliver goods to properties, some delivered parcels, and some were licensed to act as passenger ferries when not collecting the cream.

When cream launches were superseded by road transport, some were converted for other purposes, such as fishing vessels or as passenger ferries. By the time this model was made, the launches had disappeared from the rivers but it is likely that the more romantic river craft of earlier times still held a special place in the heart and mind of its maker.

Model of Log Punt

Model of Log Punt

Circa 1979 / Learn more on Ehive
Though rustic in construction, the model mirrors descriptions of these vessels, variously described as ‘ungainly’, ‘misshapen’ and ‘emitting horrid groanings and wheezings’

This model of a log punt made by Frank Little in 1979 represents a vessel that was integral to the success of the timber industry on the coastal rivers of the Mid North Coast. Little, a farmer from Rolland Plains no doubt saw these vessels regularly plying the Hastings and Maria Rivers. Although not a professional scale model of a river vessel, its very naivety tells a story. His inclusion of logs across the deck and four hand carved dogs and two axes on the foredeck remind us that our river was a colourful place; a highway full of everyday workers going about the business of moving goods, produce and people.

Though rustic in construction, the model mirrors descriptions of these vessels, variously described as ‘ungainly’, ‘misshapen’ and ‘emitting horrid groanings and wheezings’.  These plain, utilitarian vessels were not built for speed or beauty. They were essentially a floating platform capable of navigating shallow waters while transporting enormous loads. Propelled by paddle wheels and with shallow draught they could access shallower and more remote parts of the river where roads were non existent.  Their square cut bows were run up to the bank for the often dangerous task of loading the logs. At times the banks of rivers were piled with logs awaiting transport to mill wharves downstream at Wauchope and Hibbard.

A Jumbo Steering Wheel

A Jumbo Steering Wheel

Circa 1891 / Learn more on Ehive
the PS Jumbo laden with stone, heeled over in windy conditions and sank. To refloat her, the stone had to be unloaded by shovel and carted ashore by wheelbarrow

Constructed of cast iron with restored wooden handles, this steering wheel is from the drogher PS Jumbo, the last drogher to operate on the Macleay River.   Operated by the North Coast Steam Navigation Company she carried gravel, timber, logs and other freight. The rear mounted paddle wheel driven drogher was later sold to Kempsey Shire Council to carry stone and other road maintenance materials up and down the Macleay River and became known as the ‘Stone Ferry’.

Carrying stone was a heavy and at times hazardous task, Cec Mackay who skippered the drogher from time to time recalls an incident in 1938 when the PS Jumbo laden with stone, heeled over in windy conditions and sank. To refloat her, the stone had to be unloaded by shovel and carted ashore by wheelbarrow.

Her role was cut short in 1947 when she sank whilst tied up at East Frederickton Wharf. There was some controversy around the sinking as the drogher with its flat bottom had tilted at low tide and instead of rising with the tide simply remained in the same position with the high tide water flowing into her. Efforts to refloat her failed and the Shire Engineer’s decision not to salvage the vessel resulted in his resignation a short time later.

Kempsey Shire Council invited tenders for the purchase of the submerged drogher and eventually accepted an insurance payment, selling the PS Jumbo to the Lawson Construction Company. She was later refurbished but became beached at Spencers Creek, Jerseyville, where remains can still be seen today.