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Little Rawdon Island from Blackmans Point


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Hi everyone,


How welcome is that lovely rain!!! Hard to believe that things had become so dry when you think back to the floods earlier in the year.


We had 15 starters for our Sunday paddle around Little Rawdon Island from Blackmans Point. The day was warming up by the time we hit the water and it was a welcome relief to feel the wind when it got up on our way back. Luckily it was not strong ( as we have experienced it up in this area of the river ) but it was cooling.


There are always some lovely vistas to enjoy on this paddle; wide expanses of river with the distant hills as a backdrop, in particular Mt. Cairncross ( see photo ), the occasional old farmhouse making for a picturesque rural scene along with glimpses of farming land behind corridors of trees. One of my favourite scenes is that of the ” lone angler” fishing from Little Rawdon Island Bridge.  There always seems to be someone casting a line or two from the bridge when we do this paddle. We enjoyed a pleasant paddle, with a brief stop at the old ramp on the Galloway’s property on Little Rawdon Isl. The wind started to get up on the return paddle but was not a problem; it was actually cooling on what turned out to be a hot day. Back at McMillan Drive we enjoyed a picnic lunch topped off with a beautiful cake baked by Kate to acknowledge Leon’s recent birthday.


On May 12, 1819 while conducting a survey of the Hastings River (Dhoongang), Lieutenant King and Surveyor-General John Oxley landed on Little Rawdon Island where King recorded they had lovely views of a round topped hill (Mt. Cairncross) which was a dominant feature on the western skyline. The Aboriginal name for the  mountain is said to be COOLAPATAMBA or COULAHPATAMBAH, translated as ‘a place where eagles drink’. It is often referred to as the ‘sleeping elephant’ due to its shape. (Info. From the Elephant Trail Race and Manning River Times). Where the name Cairncross came from is the subject of conjecture.


The European names of Rawdon Island ( & Little Rawdon Island) refer to Francis Rawdon Hastings, the first Marquis/Marquess of Hastings. He was an Anglo-Irish politician and military officer, Governor-General of India between 1813 and 1823 and served with the British forces during the American Revolutionary War. He took the additional surname of Hastings in 1790 in compliance with the will of his maternal uncle, Francis Hastings, the 10th Earl of Huntingdon. (A marquis is described as a member of the British peerage ranking below a duke and above an earl).


Both Rawdon & Little Rawdon Islands have always been farming communities. The first school on Rawdon Isl. was opened in 1876 and remained open for 100 years, closing in 1976. The lovely old building is now a function centre. Rawdon Island also boasted a football club. Rugby union was first played in the Hastings area from 1891 until 1920 when the code changed to Rugby League. In 1931 the team from Rawdon Island won the 2nd grade competition, beating the Port Macquarie B team. Between 1928 -32, three grades made up the Hastings District Rugby League. Teams from Hamilton, Byabarra, Long Flat, Telegraph Point and Rawdon Island competed against the stronger Wauchope, Beechwood and Port Macquarie clubs. In 1933 the league carried a motion that ended lower grade competitions leaving only 6 teams to contest the 1st grade. At this point the Rawdon Island footy team disbanded (Port Macquarie Historical Society records).


Blackmans Point (GOOLAWAHL) also has history. The European name is thought to relate to one James Blackman who travelled with John Oxley on his journey to Port Macquarie in 1818. The ferry that used to operate from here across the Hastings to the Fernbank Creek ramp was the vehicular transport point between Port Macquarie and areas to the north prior to the opening of the Denis Bridge in 1961.

 On a darker, sadder note, as a part of events commemorating Port Macquarie’s bicentenary earlier this year, a short documentary entitled “Blackmans Point Massacre” premiered. This film explored, through interviews, the story passed down through generations of Aboriginal oral tradition, of a massacre said to have taken place here in 1826. A plaque acknowledging Country, erected at Blackmans Point by the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, makes no mention of the massacre. Professor Lyndall Ryan, who created the Colonial Frontier Massacre Map Project, is working with the Birpai people to collate more ‘western’ proof of a massacre. A written account of a bloody confrontation at Blackmans Point is recorded in the journal of one Henry Lewis Wilson. The Blackmans Point massacre is not yet included in the formal map and uncertainty remains about the number of people killed.  NITV’s The Point program, from which this information is sourced, also reported  that the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council was consulting with and taking direction from Birpai traditional owners on how to formally acknowledge the massacre. (The Point 8 June 2021 & SBS ) Hope this information is of interest.


Cheers
Caroline

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Blackmans Point


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Hi everyone,


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.
Cheers
Caroline


**Historical information from Wikipedia, A History of Telegraph Point & Telegraph Point & Surrounds compiled by Port Macquarie Hastings Council.