Geographic and historical information about Port Stephens, New South Wales, Australia.

This information is in an odd format. Below are the notes that I placed around a map of Port Stephens. The notes naturally make more sense when viewed with the map, titled "Port Stephens Fact Map".


William Cromarty buried with son John, a convict and an aboriginal, all died at sea 1838.

North Arm Cove. The site for Walter Burley Griffin's great city (the New York of Australia), planned in the expectation that Port Stephens would become the main seaport for New South Wales. The land was purchased by Henry F. Haloran, land developer and surveyor, but the city never eventuated. Plans for the city show two railway stations, a business district, Federal and State office sites, a factory district, car parks, wharves, parks and playgrounds. The subdivision commenced in 1918, the outline of which can still be seen from the air.

Tahlee House. Originally built of sandstock brick in 1826 for Robert Dawson, the first manager of the Aust. Ag. Co. The Bay in front of Tahlee was known as Magone Bay.

St. Andrews 1846 formerly a church, then a youth hostel, now a private residence.

Malabula - Malla, a swampy place - Bula, 2 hills- mountains - between the hills- peaceful waters- place where Christmas Bush grows. The Aboriginal name for the Mallabula area was Tottine.

Carrington. First settlement of the Australian Agricultural Company which was set up in 1824 to "produce wool of the finest quality in New South Wales for the markets of Great Britain ...". By 1830 Carrington had a population of 500 and a school for 50 children. This was the first school built in Port Stephens. Port Stephens' first hospital was also situated at Carrington. The A.A. Co. was also responsible for establishing vineyards at Carrington and the first wine was successfully produced in 1831. Visible remains of settlement include a lime kiln (1834), tarring pits, brickyard, claypits, boat harbour & company bell.

Henry F Halloran purchased the land which is now Tanilba Bay from Walter Clift in 1920 with the aim of building a great city.

Snapper Island, once called Cabbage Tree Island features a huge Moreton Bay fig tree. It is a Nature Reserve. The Aboriginal name was Butterembutt.

In 1931 Henry Halloran had the centenary gates and the water arches created to commemorate the centenary of Coswells arrival at Tanilba.

Convict built Tanilba house, 1837, was the home of William Caswell who was granted 50 acres in 1831 for his service in the Napoleonic wars.

Tanilba Bay first known as TENILBA was known as Tanilba up until 1977. [Tanilba was the aboriginal name for the area.]

Inner barrier sand dunes were formed 65,000 years ago.

Surveyor Henry Halloran named the streets of Tanilba Bay after events and people of World War One.

One of Australia's most endangered birds is the Little Tern. Only 30 pairs attempt to nest in NSW. Stockton Beach is one of their nesting sites.

Tilligerry shown earlier as Telegherry (Pelican).

Because of bad or non-existant roads in the area Tilligerry Creek was the waterway and preferred route to Newcastle from the towns around Port Stephens until the 1940's.

Hundreds of Aboriginal shell middens lie along Stockton Beach.

1.2 million tonnes of sand is extracted from Stockton Beach annually.

The wind-blown sand dunes of Newcastle bight comprise the largest continuous mobile sand mass in NSW. 30km long, 1km wide and 30m high. The sand was deposited 6000 years ago. These dunes move 4m per year.

In the months of September-October hundreds of dead Mutton birds are washed onto Stockton and other beaches. They die of exhaustion after a long migration flight.

Former RAAF air weapons range.

Anna Bay changed from Hannah Bay in 1896.

Uralla ran ashore in heavy seas when steering gear was damaged 13-6-1928.

Oimara. Careless navigation blamed for loss 27-9-1903.

Point Stephens, Port Stephens, Stephens Peak and Mount Stephens were all named after the secretary to the British Admiralty 1770.

Fenced off Aboriginal midden contains bones of mammals, birds and lizards and the shells of molluscs and crustaceans. The remains of meals eaten by the people of the Waroni tribe, 1240 years old.

Pindimar. Aboriginal name meaning Black Possum. The site was proposed for the development of Pindimar City as a port for overseas shipping in 1918. Pindimar was also the suggested site of a naval base for the Pacific Fleet by Admiral of the Fleet, Viscount Jellicoe, in 1919. The proposed city was designed by W. Scott Griffiths and covered an area of 7000 acres. Plans for the development included farming lots for returned soldiers, a railway link, industrial and educational zones, a cathedral, golf links and cemeteries. The proposal was later rejected and the city never eventuated.

State Fish Depot was destroyed by fire in 1938. It processed shark fins, liver oil and shark skins. Later traded as the "Royal Rock Oyster Company", canning oysters, then changed to canning Sea Mullet calling it butter fish.

A concrete gun emplacement was set up at the East end of Ridgeway Avenue in the1940's.

First white settlers here were William & Cecelia Cromarty.

From 1826 soldiers were posted here to intercept runaway convicts from Port Macquarie, Newcastle and Sydney.

Cecelia Cromarty died in1862 and is buried in front of 10 Seaview Crescent.

Port Stephens became an estuary about 70,000 years ago when the sea level rose about 60 metres. Before submergence the Karuah River flowed south (blocked by the ridge at Soldiers Point) to join up with the Hunter River system.

Salamander Bay was named after the American whaler the Salamander (once one of the transports of the 3rd fleet), entering in 1791.

Pshyce sank at it's mooring, 2135 tons.

Gan Gan Hill at 160m is the highest on Tomaree Peninsula. On its slopes grow the rare plants prostanthera densa and cryptostylis hunteriana.

Gan Gan Army camp, troop staging and training area has been operating since 1941.

Wallamba went ashore in heavy fog 11-7-1923.

Morna Point is famous for it's dykes where dolerite has been intruded along the joint planes in the parent volcanic rhyolite rock. The sea has cut into the softer dolerite rock leaving in many places a deep ditch. There are about 50 dykes between Morna Point and Birubi Point.

Dolphin Hole. Dolphins come here daily for socialising and to rub their bodies on the smooth pebbles.

HMAS Assault 1942 trained troops for landing operations on hostile shores.

Nelson Head, dolerite dykes occur in the tosconite.

Freak sank in 6m of water, 10-10-1864.

Inner Light building replaced a lantern lit in a small timber tower 1872.

Aboriginal canoe trees at Little Beach.

Cabbage Tree Island [John Gould nature reserve] is the only forrested island off the NSW coast and the only rainforested island in Southern Australia. It is the only known nesting site of the Goulds Petrel.

HMS Providence, British Man-of-war, 1795 sheltered in Shoal Bay. Providence was captained by W. Broughton (after whom Broughton Island was named).

SS Oakland founded in 27m of water with the loss of 11 lives in a gale 27-5-1903.

Yacaaba is made of andesite overlain by toscanite with intrusions of conglomerate sediments.

SS Thordis lies in 8m of water. It fell victim to a strong ebb tide with strong wind and swell from the East on 4-3-1906.

Macleay, SE of Little Island, in 40m, struck rocks and sank. Only 2 of the crew of 15 survived, 11-10-1911.

Tomaree is made up of andesite overlain by toscanite, both volcanic rocks.

Wauchope in 19m. Founded in heavy weather while being towed 5-4-1941.

Pappinbarra was driven on to the rocks while attempting to shelter, 12-9-1929.

50 metres off shore is a reef that whales sometimes rub their barnacles off on.

Outer light 1862.

Florence Irving stranded in fog and calm seas sank in 8m of water, 4-12-1877.

Murdoch's southern shell grit lease

Fingal Head is an example of a stack, pillars which have been left isolated as a result of wave action along joint planes in the volcanic rhyolite rock.

The Gantry. Lighthouse keepers took on supplies for the lighthouse and had 2 boats [8m & 5m] that could be lowered into the water.

1860's when the lighthouse was built the spit was high and dry, 200m wide, 5m higher than the tide and covered in low bushes. A telegraph line to the lighthouse was hung on poles across the spit. A gale in the 1890's washed the spit away. Bedrock under the spit is 6m below sea level.

Boondelbah Island. Home for the Little Penguin, White-faced Storm Petrel, Wedge-tailed, Short-tailed and Sooty Shearwaters. Hawks Nest. Supposedly named because of the hawks that nested in a large tree used as navigational marker.

Karuah. During the time of the Australian Agricultural Co. Karuah was known as Sawyers Point because logs from up the Karuah river were sawn up here.

Tea Gardens. Chinese gardeners tried unsuccessfully to grow tea here in the time of the Aust. Ag. Co. It later became a shipping point for cedar from the Myall River and Lakes area. The site of limekilns used for the burning of shells from aboriginal middens.

Winda Woppa. Site of a timber mill built in 1920.

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