'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.
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.
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