William Scott arrived in the area in 1837 with his family

Historical file photos
Historical file photos

William Scott was a timber merchant who arrived from England and headed to Port Macquarie with his wife Jane Scott and three daughters in 1837.

He planned to make his fortune from the red cedar of the mid-north coast, on the banks of the Macleay, Nambucca and Bellinger River.

First up he went north to explore the Nmbukr (Nambucca) river, where he found the shifting sands of the Nambucca River's bar - this presented a major stumbling block as ships were unable to enter.

Cedar trees growing close to the riverbanks were felled into the river and floated down to the river mouth but between 1835 to 1838 the route to loading those logs was arduous:

First they were loaded onto bullock drays on the beach south of the bar, they were then taken along Forster Beach to Scotts Head then up onto the high ground above Little Beach and Wakki.

From there the drays headed south above the cliffs to Middle Head Beach, continuing south to Grassy Headwhere the Macleay River entered the ocean and ships could enter.

Logs were then loaded either at Grassy Head or Stuarts Point.

CHANGING TIDES AND TIMES: Nambucca, Bellwood Jansen's Punt (1924)

CHANGING TIDES AND TIMES: Nambucca, Bellwood Jansen's Punt (1924)

In 1838, Scott devised a better way of transporting cedar from the Nambucca to the Macleay:

The trees were cut and dropped in the river as before but they were then joined together in rafts on the small sand islands where the Warrell Creek ( Gurravembi) runs into the Nambucca River.

The rafts were floated up Warrell Creek on the incoming tide and at the ebb tide tied to trees to stop them floating back out to sea. This procedure was repeated until they reached the weir at Scotts Head.

The logs were landed, the wastage (branches) cut off and loaded onto a bullock dray, close to where the Scott family now lived between South Pacific Drive and Warrell Creek.

They were the first family in Scotts Head and one of their children, William, was the first white child born in the Nambucca Valley.

Then came the dash to the Macleay - the bullock drays headed to where the Grassy Head Road joined the Scotts Head Road, struggling over three ridges before arriving at Grassy Head.

This was the transport method Scott used until 1843.

Then things changed - the cutter Scott had ordered, the 'Jane Scott', was ready, allowing him to head further afield to the Bellinger River.

There he found it was more costly to transport logs out of the Nambucca than to collect them on the Bellinger, which is where he focused his efforts for four years.

Records show he and his family then moved to the Macleay ... and after that he seems to have disappeared. This man who had accomplished so much simply vanished into thin air!

To learn more about local history, and in particular the story of local sporting clubs, you can attend the fourth LASH (Learning About Scotts Head) talk on Tuesday, August 6 at The Hub from 6pm, $29 if you want dinner (booking essential) - no dinner, no charge.

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