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She remembers Thunderbolt

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Sunday 10 January 1954, The Sun-Herald (Sydney)

She Knew Thunderbolt

COFFS HARBOUR, Saturday. – A woman who says she knew Thunderbolt before he turned bushranger, will have her 100th birthday on Monday.

The woman, Mrs. Margaret McGuire, of North Street, Coffs Harbour, said to-day he was “a nice young chap.”

Mrs. McGuire said Thunderbolt worked on their Armidale station “in the old days.”

“Went Wrong”.

“Things went wrong and he took to bushranging,” she said.

Mrs. McGuire’s direct living descendants include six sons and four daughters, 41 grandchildren, 87 great-grandchildren, and two great great-grandchildren.

Mrs. McGuire, who is in excellent health and in full possession of her faculties, was born at Armidale on January 11, 1854-just four years after her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Donald McNeven, arrived from Glasgow. They were farmers.

Written by macalba

December 13, 2010 at 8:07 pm

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Floods On North Coast Threaten To Isolate Several Towns

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Saturday 27 August 1949, The Sydney Morning Herald

Several towns on the lower North Coast and northern tablelands are in danger of being cut off by floods following torrential rain.

Local floodings have occurred in the Coffs Harbour, Armidale, and Port Macquarie areas, where heavy falls of snow are also reported.

Low-lying areas of Kempsey are a sea of water, and before morning it is expected that most of the town, including the main streets, will be under water.

All residents in low-lying areas of the town are leaving their homes and thousands of head of cattle are being moved to higher ground.

There were distressing scenes last night as these residents began to move their furniture and belongings in blinding rain and intense cold.

Part of the railway line between Uralla and Kelly Plains is under water and railway officials say that if the rain continues to-day all railway traffic on the line will stop.

Trains affected are those to Moree, Tamworth, Brisbane via Wallangarra, and Glen Innes.

A “Herald” pilot who flew over the northern tablelands yesterday said the country between Uralla and Armidale was badly flooded.

The country north of Armidale was thickly covered in snow up as far as Ben Lomond.

“Ben Lomond must have had a two-foot layer of snow,” he said.

“Yesterday’s fall of snow in this area was the heaviest I have seen on the northern tablelands.

“Because of bad visibility I did not see Armidale at all when I flew over it.

“All the creeks south of Armidale are running bankers and have spread out across the fields forming giant lakes.”


Last night the Weather Bureau issued a flood warning for the North Coast, and a storm warning to shipping off the N.S.W. coast.

Further heavy rain during the night and early to-day (Saturday) was expected to cause flooding in some areas between the Bellinger and Manning Rivers.

Rough to very rough seas were expected east and north of Sydney.

The Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. S. F. Kellock, said last night that snowstorms and heavy rain had wrecked the main northern tablelands trunk line on both sides of Guyra.

Only four trunk lines of the normal 27 to Brisbane were working. Armidale last night reported the heaviest floods.

The local gas works are flooded and all gas supplies have stopped.

All roads leading into Armidale are blocked by heavy snow and floodwaters.

Police evacuated six families from low-lying parts of the town yesterday.

They rescued one woman who was stranded with her three-months-old baby in water knee-deep.

Police said last night that if rain continued to-day more than 50 families would have to leave their homes.

Dumaresq Creek broke its banks yesterday morning and late last night an area of half-mile radius was under water.


Up till 10.30 last night 12 inches of rain had fallen in Kempsey.

All creeks below Bellbrook are running bankers, and bridges are covered. The road north and south of Kempsey is cut.

High winds and rain are reported from all parts of the Macleay to-night, and rain is still falling.

Buses and ambulances have been stationed between West and Central Kempsey.

It is expected that the river will break near the railway bridge in the early hours of the morning, thus cutting all communications between Central Kempsey and West Kempsey.

Beisldown River, which flows through Dorrigo, is 5ft 3in over its banks. Police say this is the highest level for 23 years.

Thousands of pounds’ worth of crops have been destroyed in the Dorrigo district.

The Bellinger River has broken its banks in many parts and has risen from its normal depth of four feet to twenty feet. About 6 inches of rain fell yesterday.

Police have evacuated 12 families from low-lying areas.

They said the town itself was not threatened, but if the river rose any further about 200 people would have to leave their homes along the river’s banks.

Following are reports from the affected areas:


NAMBUCCA, Friday. – Record floods arc expected on parts of the Nambucca River following average falls of about 10 inches of rain during the last 24 hours.

This evening the upriver towns of Bowraville and Taylor’s Arm were isolated by road.

Taylor’s Arm, at the town of Taylor’s Arm, was 40 feet above normal at 5.30 p.m. and still rising fast.

The Bowra River at Bowraville at 8 p.m. was up 27 feet and rising at the rate of one foot an hour.


COFF’S HARBOUR, Friday. -Struck by a cyclonic disturbance which hit the harbour early this morning, nine fishing launches and two valuable yachts were washed ashore, at Coffs Harbour.

One launch was smashed to pieces on the jetty and is a complete loss.

The launches are part of the Coff’s Harbour deep-sea fishing fleet and are valued at approximately £25,000. The yachts are privately owned and are believed to be valued at £30,000.

Fishing gear and launch fittings valued at thousands of pounds have been lost.


KEMPSEY, Friday.-The Macleay River at Bellbrook is within two feet of the record 1946 flood mark.

In that year the river broke its banks and caused damage estimated at £100,000. In some quarters it is feared that losses in the present flood will be even greater.

The 45ft Seventh Day Adventist launch Leleo was swept ashore early this morning, about a mile from Crescent Head on the north side.

The crew of three white men and five natives is safe. The boat is being buffeted by heavy seas.

BELLINGEN, Friday. – Following torrential rain, the river is rising at Bellingen, and there is now over 20ft of flood water.

Homes are menaced at East Bellingen, and some people have been evacuated.

Bellingen is cut off from Dorrigo, the river being 5ft above the Thora Bridge.

The only traffic to north of Bellingen is by rowing-boat. The only bridge is 15ft under water.

ARMIDALE, Friday. – Armidale is suffering its worst flood for half a century.

Since rain began to fall about 11 o’clock on Wednesday night, nearly seven inches have been registered.

At midday big flakes of snow fell.

Written by macalba

September 25, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Coff’s Harbour: Railway and port

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Tuesday 3 April 1945, The Sydney Morning Herald

Coff’s Harbour Plan

Coff’s Harbour should be converted into a deep sea port and made the terminus of an east-west railway, according to Coff’s Harbour and District Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber has issued a statement to show that the two projects are inseparable and essential to the proper development of the north of New South Wales. The complete rail and port scheme is estimated to cost £5 million.

The chamber speaks for what is potentially a complete economic unit comprising eight shires and including the coastal strip from Macksville to Woolgoolga, the Dorrigo, the tablelands, and the western slopes – 40,000 square miles, with a population of 77,000.

Last year the 1,600 square miles of coastal strip produced:-Butter, £479,808; bananas, £300,000; tomatoes, £100,000; beans and peas, £12,000. Since 1912 the unimproved capital value of Dorrigo Shire has doubled. In 1910 there were only 18 timber mills operating in the whole district. To-day there are, 109; yet the resources of the area have scarcely been tapped. Dorrigo plateau alone produces 25 million cubic feet of timber a year. Beyond Dorrigo a vast area is cut off from markets by prohibitive transport costs.


These forests, water power, mineral wealth, and the rich soil of Ebor and Guyra, remain undeveloped, while the great wool industry of New England needs direct rail communication and port storage facilities at Coff’s Harbour.

After a Parliamentary Works Committee had recommended that the best means of communication between the tablelands and the coast were a railway from Coff’s Harbour through Dorrigo to Guyra a bill was passed to authorise work on that project in 1929.

The Chamber of Commerce maintains that this project could be continued as a post-war work.

Dealing with claims of Coff’s Harbour to recognition as a deep-sea port, the chamber points out that when a plan for a port at Coff’s Harbour with a depth of 40ft of water, to cost £439,000, was prepared, the Under- secretary for Public Works, Mr. Hanna, said the smaller scheme proposed actually formed portion of the work necessary for a deep-sea port, although the smaller scheme was considered adequate for many years to come.

£900,000 SPENT

The total tonnage from Coff’s Harbour in 1939 was 64,781 tons. Nearly £900,000 has already been spent on the port.

The Chamber of Commerce advocates completion of the rail connection to Guyra, thence to Inverell and Ashford, with a 25 miles branch line to Billy’s Creek, as the first part of a scheme. The second part provides for a triple basin at Coff’s Harbour, the central basin being the present harbour, deepened to provide anchor age, and equipped with facilities to discharge and load very large vessels. Coastal vessels could be anchored in the northern basin while large ships would lie in the southern basin, which would also protect the central basin from southerlies. All three harbour entrances would lie 1,000ft wide.

Written by macalba

July 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm

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Lighthouse – Banks – School – Post office

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Wednesday 2 August 1911, The Sydney Morning Herald


For the future all the supplies for the South
Solitary Island Lighthouse are to be sent from
Coff's Harbour, owing to the bad bar at the  
Bellinger. Recently the lighthouse-keepers
and their families have had rather a bad time.

DORRIGO, Tuesday

A branch of the Bank of Australasia was
opened here this morning.

A branch of the City Bank was opened at
Ebor on Saturday.


About four months ago a new Public school
was erected at Moggs Swamp (near Glen In-
nes) but so far it has not been opened, owing
to the Education Department not supplying a

In consequence of a complaint lodged by the
municipal council, two officers from the Postal
Department recently visited Glen Innes to
inquire into the inadequate accommodation
and staff at the post-office.

Written by macalba

April 14, 2010 at 6:03 am

Tablelands to Coast railway proposals

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Wednesday 26 February 1902, The Sydney Morning Herald


The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public works met yesterday, Mr J McFarlane, M.L.A. (chairman), presiding. Further consideration was given to the expediency of constructing a line of railway from Glen Innes to Inverell.

Mr Henry Deane, Engineer-in-Chief, Railway Construction Branch, concluded his evidence. He thought that the land through which the proposed railway would pass should be given to the Government free, as the value of the adjoining land would be considerably enhanced. With few exceptions, he was in favour of the principle being applied to all new lines of railway, and this he believed was the view of the Railway Commissioners. The proposed alternative line from Guyra to Inverell would pass approximately through 18 miles of alienated land and 35 miles of Crown land, whereas from Glen Innes to Inverell the line would pass through about 39 miles of alienated land and 13 miles of Crown land.

The committee then opened an inquiry into the expediency of constructing a line of railway from Tenterfield to Casino. Mr. J. Davis, Under-Secretary, Department of Public Works, was the first witness called. He said that the line was first advocated in 1883, as the result of which a survey was carried out and an estimate prepared, showing that the cost of the work would be £1,680,053 for a distance of 87 miles. The latest estimate and description supplied by the Engineer-in-Chief for Railway Construction for this proposed line was as follows :— Length, 87 miles 1.50 chains ; estimated cost, £1,094,870 or £12,583 per mile, exclusive of land and compensation.

The proposed line would begin by a junction with the Great Northern Railway at 382 miles from Newcastle, and proceed in an east-north-east direction across the Main Dividing Range near 390 miles, and down the valley of the Cataract River, thence by a tortuous course about five miles north of the township of Drake, thence down to the Clarence River, which is crossed just above Tabulam. From Tabulam the line would proceed by Tabulam Rivulet and Black’s Camp Creek to the crossing of the Richmond Range, thence by Shannon Creek to the Richmond River, which would be crossed, and the township of Casino entered, the line ending at the western side of West-street at 469 miles 40 chains from Newcastle. The works would be very heavy with very little exception. The land to be taken would be largely alienated.

The Minister (Mr. O’Sullivan), continued Mr. Davis, in July last issued instructions for the Railway Commissioners to be asked to furnish a report on the Tenterfield-Casino railway in conjunction with the proposed line from South Grafton to Guyra. Mr. O’Sullivan also requested the Commissioners to express an opinion as to which was the better line in the interests of the public for connecting the tableland of New England with the North Coast districts. To enable the Commissioners to report, the estimates and maps of the different routes had to be supplied by the Works Department, but this could not he done until the middle of November, and the Minister being anxious to submit the Tenterfield to Casino route to Parliament, the Commissioners were only able, within the limited time, to report on that proposal without any reference to the other routes. Their report dated December 10, 1901, was as follows :—

“Cost of construction : Engineer-in-Chief’s estimated cost of construction exclusive of land and compensation, £1,094,870. Estimated annual cost : Interest on cost of construction at 3 7/8 per cent, £38,320 ; maintenance, and for traffic and locomotive expenses, £11,307-£49,627. Estimated annual traffic : Live stock and merchandise, £2000 ; passengers, parcels, and mails, £6580—£8580.

“The country through which this line would pass for a distance of 50 miles is not suitable for carrying an agricultural population, being of a very mountainous character. From the Upper Clarence to Tabulam, and thence to Casino, a distance of 35 miles, while the country is better, it is in the hands of large freeholders, and at present used for grazing purposes. The only centre of population is at Drake, where mining is carried out to a limited extent, the intrinsic value of the minerals raised being estimated last year at £12,243. This locality is now served by rail by the existing line at Tenterfield, distant 35 miles.

“It will be observed that while the net visible traffic is estimated at £8530 per annum, the working expenses for a daily service are estimated at £11,307 and interest on capital at £38,320, a total of £49,627 per annum. It will therefore be apparent that there would require to be an immense and altogether improbable development to meet these united charges. In the circumstances the Commissioners are unable to recommend the favourable consideration of this proposal.”

The following estimates and descriptions, continued Mr Davis, had been supplied by the Engineer-in-Chief for Railway Construction of the other routes to be inquired into :—

1. Glen Innes to South Grafton, via Mann River. Length, of line 115 miles 58 chains ; estimated cost £1,812,903, or £15,666 per mile, exclusive of land and compensation.

This line commences by a junction with the Great Northern railway at 321 miles from Newcastle about three miles south of Glen Innes station, and proceeding easterly it crosses Beardy Water and the Mann River and commences the ascent of the Red Range passing through the northern portion of the town of Kingsgate. The line would end at South Grafton on the south side of the Clarence River at 436 miles from Newcastle. The works are generally heavy and include several tunnels and large bridges. The ruling grade is 1 in 50 both with and against the load. The sharpest curve is 10 chains radius.

Most of the land of the Glen Innes and South Grafton end of the line is alienated, but nearly all in the central portion of the line is still Crown land.

2. Glen Innes to South Grafton, via Buccarumbi. — Length, 128 miles 52 chains. Estimated cost, £1,715,053 or £13,331 per mile, exclusive of land and compensation.

The works would be practically the same as on the previous route.

3. Guyra to South Grafton, via Coffs Harbour.— Length 184 miles 17 chains. Estimated cost £1,696,826 or £9,211 per mile, exclusive of land and compensation.

The works are heavy and include a number of tunnels and the rack descent form the tableland. The steepest grades are 1 in 60 on the ordinary line, and 1 in 14 on the rack portion. The sharpest curves are 18 chains on the ordinary portion of the line and 9 chains on the rack descent. The land at the commencement and end of the line is largely alienated, but very little on the central portion thereof has been sold.

4. Guyra to South Grafton direct.—Length, 156 miles 78 chains. Estimated cost, £1,726,677, or £11,000 per mile, exclusive of land and compensation.

The works are generally heavy, and include several tunnels. The ruling gradient is 1 in 40 both with and against the load. The sharpest curve is 10 chains radius. The land at the commencement and end of the line is nearly all alienated, but very little in the centre of the line has been sold.”

Mr Davis said that a vote of £2,000,000 for the South Grafton to Glen Innes railway was taken on the 1884 loans, of which a balance of £1,985,700 remained.

The committee at this stage adjourned until 2 p.m. on Thursday, when Mr. H. Deane will be examined in respect to this proposed line.

Written by macalba

April 12, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Proposed Northern Railways

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Thursday 4 October 1900, The Sydney Morning Herald



Sir,—in your issue of September 24 I notice a
report from the "Clarence and Richmond  
Examiner " of a meeting of the Grafton Chamber
of Commerce, at which Mr. Varley, the
president, gave his views on the above railway
routes. Mr. Varley's remarks are very misleading,
and to anyone reading the report they would very
naturally think that the Guyra to Inverell and
Guyra to Coff's Harbour routes were not entitled to
a claim, whereas, these routes really have the first
claim for a railway, which in a small way I will try
and prove.

In the first place Mr. Varley speaks of the return
from the Glen Innes railway station, and compares
it with Guyra. A great proportion (if not the
greatest) of the goods which go to Glen Innes are
for Inverell, Tingha, and other places, which, owing
to the differential rates, go to Glen Innes, and from
thence to Inverell by team. Before the rates were
altered the traffic used to go from Guyra. If a rail-
way was constructed from Guyra to Inverell all the
traffic would go this way, and save the extra 38
miles haulage over the Ben Lomond range. Then
Mr. Varley says: "The true route should
be as straight as possible "(via Glen  
Innes), "the opinion of the Minister."  
With regard to the opinion of the Minister. When a
large and influential deputation waited on Mr.
O'Sullivan during his late visit to Armidale, he  
said he was in favour of a line from Guyra
to Coff's Harbour, and this no doubt will be, or should
be, the line to the coast, and from Inverell to Coff's  
Harbour via Guyra would be as straight as could be
made. With regard to figures given of length
of different routes I won't touch on, except
to say that neither the Guyra to Inverell
nor Guyra to Coffs Harbour routes have
had a fair survey. Mr. Deane (Engineer
in-Chief) when giving his report on the Guyra-In-
verell route says that owing to it not being surveyed
he cannot give a true report, but as the grades are
easier the cost would be less than the Glen lnnes to
Inverell route. The engineers are now surveying
the Coff's Harbour route.

Mr. Varley's report says :—Inverell to Gratton via
Glen Innes, Swanbrook, and Wellingrove,—I don't
suppose there are 20 people hardly at either Swan-
brook or Wellingrove, whereas Guyra to Inverell
passes through Wandsworth, Tingha, Boggy Camp,
Bora, Bundarra, and other places.

In conclusion, a few words re stock on the Guyra
to Inverell, and Glen Innes to Inverell routes.
Between Guyra and Inverell there are no less than
97 graziers owning 371,600 sheep, while along the
Glen Innes to Inverell line there are only 21 graziers
owning 178,100 sheep. I do not include any sheep
from the Inverell district in either of these calcula-
tions. In addition to the 97 graziers there are a great
number of farmers, to say nothing of the mining
industry at Tingha, Bora, and Boggy Camp, who
of themselves would support a railway.

Apologising for trespassing on your valuable space,

I am, e&., A.W.Everett.
September 26.  

Written by macalba

March 28, 2010 at 8:02 pm


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Tuesday 11 October 1910, The Sydney Morning Herald


The Decentralisation Commission took evi-  
dence to-day on the question of connection  
with a port on the north coast. The wit-
nesses examined were Messrs. J. McIlvreen
(Deputy Mayor), R. J. Higgins (president of
the P.P. Board and Ashford shire), G. T. T.
Butler (representing the farmers and set-
tlers), A. G. Lewin (orchardist, Little Plain),
B. C. Besley (Howell and Tingha), all of
whom, except Mr. Besley, favoured the Glen
Innes-Tenterfield-Byron Bay connection. Mr.
Besley supported Guyra-Coff's Harbour con-
nection. Mr. Nichols gave evidence regarding
a large seam of coal at Ashford, urging an  
extension north-west from Inverell to there.

Written by macalba

March 11, 2010 at 8:18 pm

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