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