Twenty eight DID YOU KNOW ? facts about Port Stephens, New South Wales, Australia.

1. The bridge across the Myall River joining Hawks Nest to Tea Gardens is known as the "Singing Bridge". Opened in 1974 the locals soon noticed that in a strong south-west wind the bridge acts like a wind harp and makes beautiful singing sounds.

2. The original development plan for North Arm Cove was done by Walter Burley Griffin, the designer of Canberra.

3. The first Europeans to live in the Port Stephens area were a group of 5 escaped convicts, wrecked at Port Stephens in 1790. They were befriended by the Worimi aborigines who took them into the tribe, giving them wives, by whom some had children, and taking them along on their wanderings.

4. The Port Stephens lighthouse, built in 1862, was designed by the Colonial Architect Alexander Dawson.

5. A small garrison of soldiers was established at Soldiers Point in the late 1820's to try to prevent escaped convicts from Port Macquarie crossing the narrow section of Port Stephens en-route to settled areas further south.

6. Wife of pioneer settler William Cromarty, Cecilia Cromarty died at Soldiers Point in 1862. The burial party was unable to take her body across the water to be buried beside her husband because of storms. Her solitary grave is in the front yard of a home at Soldiers Point.

7. Carrington is a small settlement on the northern shore of Port Stephens. This is the location of St Andrews Church, convict built in 1847. For many years it was used as a Youth Hostel, a fire- place was built where the alter used to be.

8. Oyster growing has for a long time been a major Port Stephens Industry. They weren't always just eaten. In 1868 the government prohibited burning of live oysters, considered superior to dead shells for lime-making. In colonial times shells were burnt to make lime for mortar and cement.

9. Pindimer, on the Northern Shore of Port Stephens, was once the site of a shark processing industry. The main products were shark hides, livers and fins (a chinese delicacy).

10. Port Stephen's first settler was Captain William Cromarty. In 1838 he lost his life, together with his eldest son and two others, in an accident whilst launching a small boat through the surf off One Mile Beach.

11.The first marlin landed and recorded on the N.S.W. Coast was at Port Stephens in 1910.

12. In July 1993 a Southern Right Whale entered Port Stephens. It spent a few hours swimming down to Salamander Bay and back out to sea to resume its northward migration.

13. Every year Humpback and Southern Right Whales pass close by Port Stephens. During June they can be seen travelling north and later in November they are seen heading south to antarctic waters.

14. The most abundant plant species on the Tomaree Peninsula is not a tree or grass species, but a ground orchid. Pixie Cap orchids litter the ground during winter in densities of hundreds to the square metre.

15. Fairy Penguins can be seen in and about Port Stephens all year round. They occasionally come into Nelson Bay Harbour and can be seen in the surf off our ocean beaches. They breed during winter on Broughton Island.

16. The most abundant small ground mammal on the Tomaree Peninsula is the Brown Antechinus. All the males of this mouse- sized species die in mid August after a mating frenzy.

17. Port Stephens is still home to the Northern Brown Bandicoot. The size of a small rabbit, this furry native has the shortest gestation period of any mammal in the world. The young are born just 12.5 days after conception.

18. The Feathertail Glider is the smallest of our local gliders. Weighing in a just 15g (thats less than the weight of a tablespoon of water) it still manages to "glide" up to 20 metres between trees)

19. The rare and endangered Peregrine Falcon not only lives and hunts around Tomaree but each year a pair breeds on the cliffs above Mrs. Murphys.

20. Mackeral Tuna, ordinarily a species of the open sea, enter Port Stephens about September each year. For several weeks they chase schools of terrified fish, breaking the surface in their high- speed feeding frenzy.

21. Muttonbirds continue breeding for 35 years. Each year hundreds of them arrive, after a 30,000 km circumnavigation of the Pacific. They lay their eggs on Broughton Island on November 25th, choosing the same partner to mate with and the same burrow from last year.

22. Up until 1967 the New Holland Mouse was known only from four dead museum specimens. In that year two C.S.I.R.O. scientists discovered a thriving colony of the New Holland Mouse around Nelson Bay and the species was put back on the list of the living.

23. Cabbage Tree Island lies just north of the entrance to Port Stephens. It is the only place in the Southern Hemisphere that the Goulds Petrel nests. In November this rare bird lays a single egg amongst the ground litter underneath the Cabbage Tree Palms that grow on the western side of the island.

24. Christmas Bush is probably our most famous, and envied, floral display. Growing in every garden, and throughout the bush, this tree puts on white flowers in November. By Christmas the flowers turn red.

25. Port Stephens has an unusual abundance of Native Orchids, 45 species so far discovered.

26. Port Stephens became an estuary 70,000 years ago when the sea level rose about 60 metres. Before Port Stephens became a drowned valley the Karuah River turned south at Soldiers Point to join the Hunter River System.

27. The bushland around Port Stephens has 650 plant species, 230 bird species and 48 mammal species.

28. The original inhabitants of Port Stephens were the Worimi. Women of the tribe had the first joint of the little finger removed to be dropped in the fishing grounds in the belief that fish would be attracted to that hand.

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