About Dungog

All about Dungog Shire

Dungog Shire is in the Hunter Region of NSW and is renowned for its forests, mountains and picturesque river villages. Council is committed to the preservation and protection of the Shire’s natural environment and cultural heritage and offers a high quality rural lifestyle within 2.5 hours easy drive of Sydney.

The Shire covers an area of 2248 sq kilometres. It is bordered in the north by the Barrington Tops plateau, which is part of the Great Dividing Range. The Shire consists predominantly of very rugged to hilly country which becomes less rugged from north to south.
The Shire has two principal rivers, the Williams in the east and the Paterson (and its major tributary the Allyn) in the west. Both are tributaries of the Hunter River and contribute over 40 percent of the flow of the Hunter.

The Shire’s economy has traditionally been based on agriculture and timber, with the alluvial river flats suitable for intensive agricultural production. The balance of the rural land has been traditionally used for grazing. Tourism is also a focus of Dungog Shire’s economy with the National Parks, State Forests, Chichester Dam and the river systems as well as the historic and scenic character of the area providing the major focus for attracting visitors.

Clarence Town

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clarenceTownThe village of Clarence Town is the only major urban population centre in the Clarence Town Planning District. Clarence Town is located 55km north of Newcastle, 32km north of Maitland and 27km north of Raymond Terrace. The district was first settled by white settlers following the visit of Lieutenant Colonel Paterson, who travelled up the river now known as the Williams River from its junction with the Hunter at Raymond Terrace to the termination of navigable waters just above the present site of Clarence Town in 1801. The area was originally known as “Erringhi” (Aboriginal for “place of little black duck”), the name being changed to Clarence Town in 1826 after the Duke of Clarence who in 1830 became King William IV.

The earliest economic activity in the Clarence Town area was cedar cutting, performed with convict labour from 1801. The village grew around the early river ports, which were used to transport timber from the area to Maitland, Newcastle and beyond. The village of Clarence Town was surveyed and proclaimed in 1823. The Clarence Town river port and ship building industry quickly began to grow, as timber in the area was plentiful and of good quality. Clarence Town’s location was determined by the fact that it was the head of navigation of that river and had a natural river crossing existing at the site of the present bridge. The first ocean-going steam ship to be built in Australia was constructed at Clarence Town. This was the “William IV”, a replica of which awas built for Australia’s Bicentenary. In the absence of proper roads, Clarence Town became the head of navigation for goods transported further north to Dungog and Gloucester by bullock wagons and drays.

In 1826 a tobacco factory and tannery were operating, by early 1830 a boat building yard had commenced operation. Clarence Town received a Post Office in 1838. In 1848 Clarence Town had 18 houses and a population of 93 people and by 1863 the village boasted a population of 300.
Even though life centred on the river in many ways, significant settlement took place in the Clarence Town district as further areas were reached on horseback, and eventually by coach. The undulating country and abundance of flat land along the river was progressively cleared and fenced by settlers and proved ideal for dairy farming, fodder production and grazing.

There was also an abundance of hardwood timber in the forests surrounding the settlement. Farming and timber harvesting were the principal economic activities throughout the 1900’s. Clarence Town is today a small rural village, similar in many ways to Paterson.



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DUNG0756-1200x800The town of Dungog is the principal urban settlement in the Dungog Planning District. Dungog is located 244km north of Sydney, 79km north of Newcastle and 55km north of Maitland. The Gringai tribe resided in the general Dungog area prior to the first white settlement in the early 1800’s. The first white men in the area were thought to be searching for lost stock. They were followed by timber getters, attracted by the magnificent cedar trees in the area’s hills.

The town of Dungog began as a settlement on the banks of the Williams River and during this period of early settlement was originally called Upper Williams. It was situated 14 miles upstream from Clarence Town, which was the head of navigation.

The first Europeans in Dungog were cedar getters in the 1820’s, followed by settlers.The site was a day’s march from Clarence Town for convicts. In 1834, Captain Thomas Cook JP was made the first magistrate for the area which included Upper Williams. He urged the Colonial Secretary that the village be given a distinctive name, suggesting Dungog.


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GresfordGresford and East Gresford are two small settlements separated by 2 km. They make an obvious base for an exploration of the area to the north where you will find lovely Allynbrook, Lostock Dam, Mt Allyn and the mountainous terrain of Chichester State Forest and Barrington Tops. East Gresford, on the main road to Maitland, is 196 km north of Sydney and 39 km north of Maitland.

Prior to the colonial period the Gresford area was occupied by the Gringgai clan of the Wanaruah Aboriginal people. The first Europeans in the district were timbergetters who began extracting cedar in the 1810s. When Paterson was settled in the 1820s exploration upriver began.

The first grants were ‘Camyr Allyn’, issued to Charles Boydell (now Gresford) and ‘Cawarra’, made out to George Townshend (now East Gresford). Boydell’s brother William took up ‘Caergwrle’ (just north at Allynbrook and pronounced ‘Ca-girl-ee’) upon his arrival in Australia in 1836. As these names might suggest these early settlers were Welsh. In fact Charles Boydell and George Townshend were neighbours in Wales and came to Australia on the same ship. Other local place names, such as Trevallyn and Eccleston, reflect their heritage. Indeed Gresford is named after a town on the Allyn River in North Wales.


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PatersonThe village of Paterson is the largest urban centre in Paterson Planning District, and the earliest recorded settlement in the Dungog Shire. Paterson is located 61 klms north of Newcastle and 19 km north of Maitland, and is situated on the Paterson River below its confluence with the Allyn.In the early 1800’s Susannah Ward surrendered 90 aces of her estate for the purpose of establishing a town, and the settlers petitioned the Government for a wharf, which became the focal point around which Paterson grew.

The wharf was established in 1877 after local agitation. Although Paterson was the Hunter Region’s third town site to be surveyed (in 1833 after Newcastle and Maitland),

it was not proclaimed as a town until 1885.The town became an important trading post for boats from Newcastle and Morpeth, and a market centre for farmers north of the town to bring produce. The Paterson Steamship Company was formed to facilitate this. Paterson developed rapidly, due to its importance as a port. Produce was transported from the fertile Paterson Valley to Newcastle mostly in the form of citrus fruits, tobacco, grains, grapes and wine.

As the years went on, ship building became prominent with two yards being established. However, river trade declined in the 1850’s as the road to Maitland was improved. The town continued to develop in spite of this, outgrowing its original survey site. Timber mills were established in the Paterson area in the 1870’s.

In the 1890’s, the building of the North Coast Railway further reduced the importance of the river trade and even though the railway eventually linked Paterson with Dungog, it brought few benefits to the town. Throughout the 1900’s agriculture has become the major economic activity in the Paterson area. Paterson is today a small rural village with many points of historical interest.


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Vacy, 9 km north of Paterson, and located 184 km north of Sydney and 27 km north of Maitland, appears a very small collection of residences on the roadside in the middle of nowhere. To the west is Mt George (452 m), to the north is Mt Breckin and looming over the town to the south is Mt Johnstone (341 m).

Vacy came into existence around 1828 as a private township established by the Cory family. John Cory Sr came out from England with his sons Edward and John Jr in 1823 and they soon received grants in the area. John Jr owned Cory Vale and John Sr owned Vacy. By 1839 both grants were in the hands of another son, Gilbert, who arrived later and became the town’s real patriarch.

It remained in the family until the land was subdivided and sold in 1927. Vacy was, by the 1870s, an active town with cattle sale yards and a steady flow of livestock through the main street. Tobacco and arrowroot were grown here and processed in local factories.