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Rocks Ferry Wauchope & Queens Lake


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Hi everyone & welcome back!!

As Greg has already reported, last Sunday we had 30 paddlers split between four groups out enjoying the last beautiful day of Autumn on the water.
Three groups paddled from Rocks Ferry up at Wauchope while another group paddled on Queens Lake. Thank you to our leaders.

As I was amongst the groups launching from Rocks Ferry, my report & pictures are from up that way.

When we arrived a ghostly, low lying mist hung over the river & a trio of pelicans was practising social distancing just near the  bridge. As the sun broke through the mist lifted & the lush green farmland was soon bathed in light. Cows grazed quietly, pelicans glided gracefully & we set off in our small groups at staggered intervals, keeping our distance & enjoying being out on the water again as a club. Most groups went down to King Creek while a smaller group went up to Bain Bridge & a bit beyond.

Just a bit of background history on Rocks Ferry & Bain Bridge which includes an ‘Indignation’ Meeting & a ‘Smoke Ceremony’.

A ferry operated at Rocks Ferry from 1910 to 1983 when the Rocks Bridge was opened (Stoney Creek Rd.). Prior to the development of the present foreshore recreation reserve, sand & gravel reclamation work took place here. The ferry crossing was originally at ENNIS ( which is no longer in existence). Early settlers & travellers from Port Macquarie used a route by way of HAYTOWN (Sancrox), crossed the Hastings River at Rawdon Island & then crossed the river again at Narrow Gut near ENNIS which, in the 1880’s was a significant village. A wharf was built there to service a ferry which crossed the river near Narrow Gut carrying mail. There was much local conflict over the choice of the ferry location – the wharf at Ennis or at the Rocks. In 1902 an ‘Indignation’ Meeting was held to protest the decision by the Minister for Works to relocate the punt from Ennis at the Rocks, near the Butter Factory. It appears cost considerations weighed in heavily & the Minister had reversed his earlier decision to keep it at Ennis. Over time Ennis reverted to farmland & many of its buildings were removed to Wauchope & elsewhere. The ferry was relocated to Rocks & operated until the bridge opened.

Bain Bridge was named in memory of Duncan Bain, son of Alexander Bain, one of the earliest settlers in the Wauchope District. Locals nicknamed it the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ as it took 15 years of agitation, accidents & drownings before what was the first above water crossing of the Hastings was built.
Following the drowning in 1887 of Bain’s 13 year old son John at Camerons Falls crossing/ford ( then the major crossing point between Beechwood & Port Macquarie) a public meeting was held to discuss the proposal for the construction of a flood free bridge. After several years of talks & discussion on the condition of the ford, it was suggested that the ford be built up as an ‘experiment’. In 1891 the Beechwood Progress Committee used bullock teams & wagons to haul loads of sandstone blocks to the ford to shore it up (these blocks had previously been used as ballast by sailing ships then dumped up & down the banks of the Hastings). This ‘experiment’ only lasted until the next flood & another attempt, using saplings to indicate where it was safe to cross, also failed. Finally, in 1902 Bain & another delegate met with the Minister for Works in Sydney to lobby for a bridge. Upon their return a “Smoke Concert’ was held at Beechwood where the outcome of their meeting was discussed. (A smoke concert was a live performance, usually of music before an audience of men only!! They were very popular during the Victorian era. At these functions men could smoke & speak of politics while listening to live music). The Minister agreed to build the bridge ( the first over the Hastings River) as soon as funds became available ( nothing has changed has it!!). The bridge was officially opened on August 15, 1907. Sadly, Bain had died in June 1906 & did not get to see it completed. The ribbon was cut by a local woman from Koree Island who had nearly drowned while making the crossing at the old ford some years earlier. The bridge is 500m downstream of the old Camerons Falls Crossing A touch of notoriety came in 2001 when body parts in six plastic bags were discovered along the river between Bain Bridge & Rocks Ferry. They belonged to a convicted drug dealer who had been kidnapped by men posing as police officers while he was working on day release.

King Creek was named Kings River by John Oxley in 1818. It was named after his surveyor, a Mr. King. In 1836 Captain Robert Andrew Wauch ( he had been a Wauchope but dropped the ‘ope’ due to a family dispute) purchased 760 acres on King Creek. He named his property ‘Wauchope’ & it was on this property that the town developed.

Anyway, I hope you found that little bit of history interesting. Information courtesy of the  Hastings Municipal Library, ‘A Short History of Wauchope’ & ‘A Bridge called Bain And Other Stories’.

Hope everyone had a good day.

Cheers
Caroline

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