A very Coffs Coast Christmas

Smallman, Steve & Dunn, Robert, (illustrator.) & Pyke, Jerry, (illustrator.) (2014). Santa is coming to New South Wales. South Melbourne, Vic Lake Press

Throughout 2017, the History Services unit of the Library, Gallery & Museum team has aimed to share our local heritage online for easier access.
From Sawtell and Bonville, to Red Rock and Woolgoolga and all the places in between, here are some of the stories we issued this year, with considerable assistance from our Museum and Library Volunteers, and the community.

  • John KorffDiscoverer of Coffs Harbour compiled by Marie Davey, available from Coffs Harbour Libraries and for sale at the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum;
  • Georges Gold, a book about gold mining on the Orara goldfields of eastern Dorrigo and the gold mining pioneers, in a new edition freely available online or in print;
  • the 1893 shipwreck of the Buster at Woolgoolga – a Trove list of resources describing how the event unfolded;
  • Bonville Creek Station to sunny Sawtell, edited by Arlene Hope and Merv Pitman, explaining the origins of the seaside town;
  • The wicked boy: the mystery of a Victorian child murderer by Kate Summerscale, available for borrowing from Coffs Harbour Libraries. The author was interviewed by the ABC where she explained how a young English boy grew up in Nana Glen;
  • A Compendium of Pioneers of the Local Government Area 1880-1903, compiled from several extant lists by Geoff Watts;
  • STILL National Still Life Award, the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery’s new national art prize with accompanying catalogue;
  • several issues of the newly launched newsletters of the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum and the Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery, edited by Kylie Castor.


Pioneer Park revisited

Duke St Pioneer Park 20171129 - 29Nov2017
The new Pioneer Park beside the old Museum site on Harbour Drive, November 2017

History to 2016
In July 2016, the Duke Street extension was opened as the replacement to Pioneer Park, a green space between Harbour Drive and Duke Street.
The space was named “Pioneer Park” by the Coffs Harbour and District Historical Museum in February 1996, and the Museum (which was then not funded by the Council) also paid for the park’s furniture. The Museum deemed it the only park “in Coffs Harbour named in memory of the Pioneers of this wonderful part of the world” and its decision was supported by the City Council, which maintained the space well.

Duke St Pioneer Park Letter - 23 Feb 1996
1996 Letter from the Coffs Harbour & District Historical Museum
Duke St Truncated Old Pioneer Park 28 June 2016 Advocate
coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/road-through-pioneer-park-fast-tracked/3052659/, 28 June 2016

In 2017
To reflect the naming of the space as Pioneer Park, the Coffs Harbour City Council decided to honour the pioneers who had resided or worked nearby: Peter Moller, the first selector; squatter John Carrall, after whom the flooding creek is named; Miss Ida Archibald, the first teacher; and Robert Bray, first grocer.
Their stories are told in six panels, placed along the footpath beside the street extension. The panels are made from core ten steel and were supplied by Armsign. The brick pavers were original pavers from the city centre, removed when Gordon Street was developed. The information on the panels was compiled with input from staff and volunteers the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum.
A 1911 map shows this space was always designated to be a through street, although both ends are situated on top of Carrall’s Creek.

1911 map part
Coffs Harbour : alternative schemes submitted by Mr T. W. Keele, M. Inst. C. E., for the establishment of a port at Coff’s Harbour / Royal Commission on Railway Decentralisation;    MAP G8971.P3 1911; http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-234153490

Trees were originally planted by Mrs R R Macdonald, wife of the doctor, for the enjoyment of her family which lived next to the park, and the public [cf., Coffs Local History – Remember When, 13 March 2016].

Trees in the new Park providing shade include Buckinghamia celcissima (Ivory curl flower), Syzygium australis ‘resilience’ (Bush cherry), and Tristaniopsis luarina ‘luscious’ (Kanuka gum), replacing eucalyptus trees.

The original Pioneer Park bench seating and sign, made from tallowwood, can still be enjoyed in the garden at the site of the recent Coffs Harbour Regional Museum, a short walk away at 215A Harbour Drive.

Peter Moller et al are described in the Compendium of Pioneers of Coffs Harbour Local Government Area 1880 – 1903.
Lead photograph: Raymond Mather Photography, 29 November 2017. Left to right: Debbie Campbell, Local Studies & Digitisation Librarian; Geoff Watts, volunteer researcher; Terrie Beckhouse, LMG Cultural Collections Officer; and Cath Fogarty, Cultural Development, Gallery & History Services Coordinator. Not present: Andrea Vallance, Landscape Designer, Coffs Harbour City Council.