Sorry this trip report from two weeks ago is running late, but my computer is having issues with sending multiple photos at present ( or as David Walliams from “Little Britain” put so succinctly…”computer says no” ).
Always a popular paddle, we had a roll up of 21 with 19 doing the main paddle & Bill & Colin paddling up from Blackmans Point, a distance of 22kms.
Given the later start & the pending heat, we split into two groups; one paddled all the way up to the little races & the second paddled for one hour before turning around. Thanks Leon for assisting with this arrangement.
The Wilson is a perennial river of the Hastings River catchment. It is 69 kms long, rising at Mt. Banda Banda in the Willi Willi National Park. Its mouth is at the Maria River, downstream from Telegraph Point. It descends 559m over its course.
The traditional custodians of the country throughout the Telegraph Point & Rollands Plains region are the Ngaku people ( from the coast north of the Wilson & inland to Kemps Pinnacle in the Willi Willi NP); the Ngambaa peoples ( south of the Upper Wilson through Bril Bril towards the Manning) along with the Dunghutti & Birpai peoples.
The Wilson River was named after Lieutenant W.E.B Wilson, an engineer & later Superintendent of Settlement. Governor Macquarie appointed Wilson in 1821 as Engineer & Inspector of Works of the new colony of Port Macquarie. His duties also included exploring & surveying. I cannot locate an Aboriginal name for this river.
The earliest farms along the Wilson were located at Prospect ( near the present site of Telegraph Point) & at Ballengarra. All the Government farms, with the exception of Settlement Farm, were located on the Wilson River. Between 1824 – 32 there were several failed agricultural establishments at Prospect & Rollands Plains where convict workers attempted to grow tobacco, sugar cane, wheat, corn , the goal being to grow as many vegetables as possible to eliminate scurvey from Port Macquarie & its outstations. These farms were overseen by army officers who established penal stations along the river. A telegraph line between Armidale & Port Macquarie was constructed in 1869. In 1876 a new Parish road was built & Rowsell’s private river punt changed to a public ferry with fixed tolls for passengers & livestock. Foot passengers were 2d, each horse or mule was 6d, each sheep was a halfpence & a cart with two wheels was one shilling while a dray with four wheels cost one shilling & 6d ( if only this was still the case!!) A bridge over the Wilson was opened in 1902. It included a lifting span to allow vessels to pass along the river. Dairying became important & a butter factory was opened in 1934 with butter being transported down the Wilson to Port Macquarie. (I have included a few old photos). Many residents relied on the timber industry & droghers ( freight barges) plied the river picking up timber from upstream wharves including Ballengarra. Log Wharf ( in the Reserve where we launch) is the best preserved of these old wharves.
We enjoyed our paddle up the Wilson, particularly the upper reaches above the little grass islands where the river become shallow in places with smooth river rocks close enough to touch as you glide over them. The banks rise up steeply on the right hand side with glorious straight, white trunked gums soaring up above. It is incredibly picturesque along this stretch & this season the bloodwood trees are flowering in profusion; you could smell their perfume which was sweet & subtle. There are a few more wash away areas that have appeared up this end & our usual spot is still accessible. We had a break here as debris & a strong current in the little race prevented further paddling.
Thanks to everyone who joined us & we hope you enjoyed the paddle.
**Historical information from Wikipedia, A History of Telegraph Point & Telegraph Point & Surrounds compiled by Port Macquarie Hastings Council.