Dungog Planning District

'Dungog', as named by the Gringai tribe, is an Aboriginal name meaning 'place of thinly wooded hills'.


The town of Dungog is the principal urban settlement in the Dungog Planning District. Dungog is located 244km north of Sydney, 79km north of Newcastle and 55km north of Maitland. The Gringai tribe resided in the general Dungog area prior to the first white settlement in the early 1800's. The first white men in the area were thought to be searching for lost stock. They were followed by timber getters, attracted by the magnificent cedar trees in the area's hills.

The town of Dungog began as a settlement on the banks of the Williams River and during this period of early settlement was originally called Upper Williams. It was situated 14 miles upstream from Clarence Town, which was the head of navigation. The first Europeans in Dungog were cedar getters in the 1820's, followed by settlers. The site was a day's march from Clarence Town for convicts. In 1834, Captain Thomas Cook JP was made the first magistrate for the area which included Upper Williams. He urged the Colonial Secretary that the village be given a distinctive name, suggesting Dungog.

The grid formation of the streets of Dungog is characteristic of early government towns, and is oriented north-south to east-west.

Before 1888 Dungog was a very poor settlement, with no water supply, cars, telephones, hospital, butter factory, dairying, street lighting, footpaths, gutters, bridges or municipality. From the late 1800's these services were progressively established to service the planning district's population. The Census of 1857 indicated that Dungog village had 25 houses and a population of 126 people. By 1861 the population had grown to 458 people. By 1909, the Dungog area was serviced by a telephone network. In 1835 the Post Office was opened in Dungog. Dungog and District Memorial Baths were opened in 1963. Since the mid 1900's few major changes have occurred in Dungog.

From a social planning point of view, it is worth noting that as the area in the vicinity of Dungog township was further explored, a large number of tiny settlements were established paricularly north of Dungog. Many of these exist today as comparatively isolated rural communities.

Bandon Grove

Located some 10km north of Dungog and originally part of Samuel Kingston's "Bandon Grove" estate, the settlement of Bandon Grove grew up on the confluence of the Williams and Chichester rivers. By 1880 the village had a post office, store tobacco factory, public school and Wesleyan Chapel. Bandon Grove prospered in the early 1900's due to the increase in dairying and citrus growing.

A timber truss bridge was constructed over the Williams River at the turn of the century. In the 1940's a concrete factory was established to supply sleepers for the base of the water mains from the new Chichester Dam. Bandon Grove is today a picturesque rural community.


Wangat is a Koori name, meaning 'place where whispers are heard'. The village was located approximately four mile upstream from the present Chichester Dam. The development of Wangat was based on the discovery of gold 6 miles above the confluence of the Wangat and Chichester rivers in 1879. In 1881 a village of 80 people had grown and two crushing apparatus, one at Upper and one at Lower Wangat had been acquired, servicing 50 mines.

Wangat was surveyed as a town in 1884 in a standard grid pattern. The village grew rapidly and boasted a school, hall and houses in the 1880-90's. The yield of gold dwindled however and by 1902 only two houses were left in the village. A brief revival occurred in 1918 with temporary dwellings of workers involved with the construction of Chichester Dam, however this concluded in 1925 and the road to Upper Wangat was eventually closed to traffic.


The locality of Salisbury was settled in approximately 1836. Early settlers were free Welsh immigrants. Located north of Dungog at the feet of the Barrington Tops, Salisbury was an isolated community.

A national school opened in 1875. Salisbury received a Post Office in the 1840's, which included a store. A Congregational Church opened in 1903. Principal activities in the area included dairying and cash cropping, and the locality is today a comparatively isolated and scattered rural community.


'Dusodie' is an aboriginal word meaning 'place that is hard to find'. This scattered rural settlement is located north of Bandon Grove.

Chichester/Upper Chichester

The Chichester River is named after that city in England. The Chichester and Wangat (then Little River) valleys were settled during the late 1840's and early 1850's. Chichester once boasted a school. The locality is now the most isolated rural community in the Dungog Shire.


The locality of Underbank grew from the original estate of W M Foster, and is now a collection of properties.


The locality of Wallaringa is also derived from G S Waller's estate, once having a school and hall.


The locality of Wirragulla was derived from John Hooke's estate, taken up in 1828. The locality once boasting a flour mill.

Extract from Dungog Shire Council's Community Profile of Dungog Local Government Area 1999


Paterson Planning District

Colonel William Paterson first surveyed the area along what is now known as the Paterson River in 1801. The first settlers to the area were cedar getters who started settlement along the Paterson River in 1812. These were mostly convict cutting gangs sent to the cedar forests along the banks of the river. The settlement was built and mainly inhabited by convicts until free settlers moved into the area in 1821 and paved the way for further development.


The village of Paterson is the largest urban centre in Paterson Planning District, and the earliest recorded settlement in the Dungog Shire. Paterson is located 61 klms north of Newcastle and 19 km north of Maitland, and is situated on the Paterson River below its confluence with the Allyn. In the early 1800's Susannah Ward surrendered 90 aces of her estate for the purpose of establishing a town, and the settlers petitioned the Government for a wharf, which became the focal point around which Paterson grew.

The wharf was established in 1877 after local agitation. Although Paterson was the Hunter Region's third town site to be surveyed (in 1833 after Newcastle and Maitland), it was not proclaimed as a town until 1885. The town became an important trading post for boats from Newcastle and Morpeth, and a market centre for farmers north of the town to bring produce. The Paterson Steamship Company was formed to facilitate this. Paterson developed rapidly, due to its importance as a port. Produce was transported from the fertile Paterson Valley to Newcastle mostly in the form of citrus fruits, tobacco, grains, grapes and wine.

As the years went on, ship building became prominent with two yards being established. However, river trade declined in the 1850's as the road to Maitland was improved. The town continued to develop in spite of this, outgrowing its original survey site. Timber mills were established in the Paterson area in the 1870's. In the 1890's, the building of the North Coast Railway further reduced the importance of the river trade and even though the railway eventually linked Paterson with Dungog, it brought few benefits to the town. Throughout the 1900's agriculture has become the major economic activity in the Paterson area. Paterson is today a small rural village with many points of historical interest.


Vacy came into being as a private town on the estate of the Cory family, taken up in 1824. It existed in this fashion until its subdivision and sale in 1927. Its ribbon development along Gresford Road, as opposed to the traditional grid layout, is a testament to its origins. Most of the early buildings were erected for Cory's tenants.

Vacy was a convenient stopover point for travellers between Gresford and Paterson, and an inn was in existence in 1859. Cory established the first church, school and post office and Vacy also boasted tobacco and arrowroot factories. The population of Vacy continued to expand from 30 in 1866 to an unspecified number at the end of the century.

During this time a blacksmith, bakery, butcher, general store, cattle saleyard, arrowroot factory and creamery were established. The town's only hotel was established on the old road leading to the low level bridge on the Gresford side prior to the new bridge being constructed in 1898. In 1927 the town was sold in 50 lots, including homes, shops, the hotel, dairy farms and orchards. Vacy is today a tiny village which nevertheless has retained may of it's facilities.

Martins Creek

The village of Martins Creek was named after Edward Martin who settled on the Paterson River near its junction with Martins Creek in 1851. Martin was followed by other settlers who soon filled the surrounding land, with most settlers on smaller allotments and of modest means. Settlers engaged in a variety of agricultural pursuits.

The railway passed through Martins creek in 1908, considerably altering the fortunes of the village. State and private andacite (blue metal) quarries opened in 1913 to provide ballast for the railway and later for roads and other construction. At their peak of production the quarries employed one hundred men. Since the closure of the quarries. Martins Creek has lost its post office and general store and exists today as a small residential village.


The locality now known as Gostwyck was one of the earliest estate developments in the Paterson district, taken up by Edward Gostwyck Cory in 1823 the Paterson River. Cory established vineyards, tobacco, wheat plantations, a flour mill and bloodstock on the property, with the river being used to tranpsort grain and flour to Raymond Terrace and Morpeth.

A timber mill replaced the flour mill in the late 1800's and the estate was subdivided in 1902 after which a butter and ice cream factory were established. By 1927, after the factory's closure, Gostwyck had ceased to exist as a town on road maps.


The locality of Hilldale is separated from neighbouring Wallarobba by the Wallarobba Mountain Range. It is cradled in the north by Mount Ararat and in the south by Mount Douglas, which separates it from Martins Creek. Settlement took place after 1861 by immigrants taking up Crown land, most of whom had previously worked on farms and vineyards on the large estates in the Gresford District. The locality was known as Big Creek until 1905, when the name was changed for postal purposes.

A national school was established in 1879 and closed in 1968. A post office and store were established in Hilldale in 1913, however there had been a Receiving Office earlier. Both closed in 1978. Original industries in the locality included tobacco, viticulture, citrus, stone fruits and walnuts. Dairying and beef production are now the predominant activities. In 1952 Hilldale had a population of 150 people, this had declined to 50 by 1972. Hilldale is today a scattered rural community.

Extract from Dungog Shire Council's Community Profile of Dungog Local Government Area 1999


Clarence Town Planning District

Clarence Town is thought to be the seventh oldest settlement in Australia.

Clarence Town

The village of Clarence Town is the only major urban population centre in the Clarence Town Planning District. Clarence Town is located 55km north of Newcastle, 32km north of Maitland and 27km north of Raymond Terrace. The district was first settled by white settlers following the visit of Lieutenant Colonel Paterson, who travelled up the river now known as the Williams River from its junction with the Hunter at Raymond Terrace to the termination of navigable waters just above the present site of Clarence Town in 1801. The area was originally known as "Erringhi" (Aboriginal for "place of little black duck"), the name being changed to Clarence Town in 1826 after the Duke of Clarence who in 1830 became King William IV.

The earliest economic activity in the Clarence Town area was cedar cutting, performed with convict labour from 1801. The village grew around the early river ports, which were used to transport timber from the area to Maitland, Newcastle and beyond. The village of Clarence Town was surveyed and proclaimed in 1823. The Clarence Town river port and ship building industry quickly began to grow, as timber in the area was plentiful and of good quality.

Clarence Town's location was determined by the fact that it was the head of navigation of that river and had a natural river crossing existing at the site of the present bridge. The first ocean-going steam ship to be built in Australia was constructed at Clarence Town. This was the "William IV", a replica of which was built for Australia's Bicentenary. In the absence of proper roads, Clarence Town became the head of navigation for goods transported further north to Dungog and Gloucester by bullock wagons and drays.

In 1826 a tobacco factory and tannery were operating, by early 1830 a boat building yard had commenced operation. Clarence Town received a Post Office in 1838. In 1848 Clarence Town had 18 houses and a population of 93 people and by 1863 the village boasted a population of 300.
Even though life centred on the river in many ways, significant settlement took place in the Clarence Town district as further areas were reached on horseback, and eventually by coach. The undulating country and abundance of flat land along the river was progressively cleared and fenced by settlers and proved ideal for dairy farming, fodder production and grazing. There was also an abundance of hardwood timber in the forests surrounding the settlement. Farming and timber harvesting were the principal economic activities throughout the 1900's. Clarence Town is today a small rural village, similar in many ways to Paterson.

Glen William

European settlement first took place in the Glen William area in approximately 1898. William Millar arrived in the colony of New South Wales on the ship 'North Britain' in 1929 with 60 head of cattle and some farming implements. By May 1930 Millar had made his land grant selection of the allowed 640 acres on the Williams River north of the site of Clarence Town. He named the property Glen William. In 1937 Glen William was purchased by Thomas Holmes.

In 1936 William Lowe purchased at Crown Auction 1,120 acres which adjoined Glen William on the south. John Hillier selected a property of 1,280 acres on the northern boundary and named it Styles View. This was conveyed to Timothy Cape in 1849 and was thereafter known as Cape Vale. These three properties were the foundation of the locality now known as Glen William. A community hall was constructed in the community in 1927. A Post Office operted in Glen William until 1969. Today Glen William is a small community which still boasts its school, hall and Anglican Church.

Glen Martin

Little is known of the early origins of the locality now known as Glen Martin, although the name is most probably derived from an early estate at the time of settlement. It is located on the opposite bank of the Williams River to Glen William, from which it is separated by a watershed which extends from Clarence Town to the northern extremity of the Glen William locality. Records indicate the existence of a public school, a community hall and Post Office, none of which are now in existence. Glen Martin is today a scattered rural community.


Located some 12kms south of Dungog, the church buildings are the only survivors of the village of Brookfield. Brookfield was an important stopover point for people travelling to Dungog and had at least one inn. The village grew on the property of the Smeatham family, around the catholic church and convent which were most likely established for the welfare of the many Irish tenant farmers on the property.


Located south-west of Dungog on the old Wallarobba estate, the village of Wallarobba grew from the subdivision of the original estate owned by Alexander Baxter. Agriculture was the principal pursuit in the area, with a boost from the railway which came through the area in approximately 1911. A Post Office was established in 1878, remaining open until 1978. A public school operated in Wallarobba until 1971, and a community hall was also constructed following the second world war. The locality of Wallarobba is today a collection of homes and a hall.

Extract from Dungog Shire Council's Community Profile of Dungog Local Government Area 1999

Gresford Planning District

Gresford and East Gresford are two attractive village settlements in the area which is bounded by the Allyn and Paterson Rivers.

Historic Gresford

Gresford was named after the town on the Allyn River in North Wales, Great Britain and was first inhabited between 1812 and 1820 by itinerant cedar cutters.

In the early 1820's Charles Boydell was granted "Camyr Allyn" and George Townshend "Cawarra". Later William Boydell was granted "Caergwrle" at Allynbrook and built the beautiful Church of St Mary on Allyn, and Alexander Park purchased "Lewinsbrook". John Phillip Webber was granted land north of Gresford on the Paterson River, now the areas of Mt Rivers and Lostock. Dr Lindeman purchased "Cawarra" in 1842 and the vineyards were commenced in 1843.

A good place to seek out some of Gresford's past is to visit St Anne's Church. The Townshend family gave the land for a church and cemetery and it is thought that burials started around 1850. The present St Anne's was built in 1898, although some controversy exists over the actual date of the laying of foundation stone.

A look inside the church is a must to view the stained glass windows, many of which were donated by early families, among them the Lindemans.

Outside the Church a lane leads to the Paterson River and the original ford, part of the main road from Dungog to Singleton. Also visible is very old Ard-na-Hane, a staging post for Coaches travelling from Singleton and Gloucester.

There are many other historical buildings in the area. Amongst them is the St Helens Catholic Church opened in 1867, the local pub which is over 100 years old, the General Store over 90 years old and the Police Station.

Scenic Gresford

Spend a few days in Gresford at one of our B&B's or the local Hotel. After you have spent the first days exploring the immediate region with it's history and beautiful scenery you will find a day trip to the Lower Hunter or Upper Hunter wineries or the Barrington Tops an easy task, returning in the evening to the country peace.

Daytrippers can travel along Allyn River Road from East Gresford, through the valley to Eccleston and the Upper Allyn, where the old timer mill village still exists until they reach the forest. Here Pademelons, Lyre Birds, Wallabies, Potaroos and numerous birds can be found. BBQ's are provided and the popular Ladies Well swimming hole is always full of pristine Allyn River water. This area is a popular picnic and camping spot. The peatbog Burrago Swamp and walk is a 1 kilometre drive. This walk is a spectacular experience with Tree Ferns under a canopy of giant fig trees giving the impression of a "fairyland".

Lostock Dam on the beautiful Paterson River is a 25 minute drive from Gresford. The Dam is a peaceful place for a BBQ, picnic or water sports. Fishing, canoeing, windsurfing, swimming and low powered boating is accommodated. The drive to the Dam is a very relaxing and scenic one, as the road follows the river past many rural properties. For 4 Wheel Drivers, the Boonabilla Road meets the pristine and beautiful head of the Paterson River, which is less frequented.

Every year our local events grow in popularity. These include the Gresford Show in March, the Rodeo in August and the Billy Cart Derby and Easter Fair on Easter Saturday. Make sure you book early!


Located north of East Gresford, the village of Allynbrook grew up around Boydell's Caegrwle Estate which was taken up by him in 1836. The population of the village grew in the 1850's with the establishment of early agricultural industry, particularly tobacco. Located close to the forests, timber became a significant industry in the 1860's.

The village remained isolated until the 1890's when it was serviced by a coach and later a motor service. Population continued to increase throughout the early 1900's with the advent of dairying and in 1950 Allynbrook was described as being 'a thriving community', however the village subsequently declined with the downturn of dairying. The post office closed in 1977 and the locality is now a scattered and picturesque settlement.


The village of Eccleston apparently originated with Alexander Seymour's property, taken up in the 1830's in the predominantly Welsh Gresford district. Located north of Allynbrook, Eccleston was very isolated throughout the 19th Century, with roads in the area not constructed until 1920. Eccleston was an important dairying and citrus growing area, with goods sent by road to Paterson.

Mount Rivers/Lostock

Located on the Paterson River north of Gresford. Originally John Webber's estate selected in the early 1830's. Both localities have boasted a school, with Lostock stilll having its own hall.


The locality of Lewinsbrook was derived from the original estate of Alexander Park.


Located north of Gresford, between Allynbrook and Eccleston, Halton was the name of the original property acquired by George Townshend in the late 1830's.

Extract from Dungog Shire Council's Community Profile of Dungog Local Government Area 1999