Fox's Road: a peaceful, evocative reminder of Nambucca Heads' past

Fox's Road as it stands now is a peaceful, evocative reminder of Nambucca Heads' past.

Though it may be unfamiliar to a lot of residents.

However if you mention Kara Kar, the horse float manufacturer, which faces Giinagay Way, people can immediately place it because Fox's Road starts just there at a sharp angle to the now "old" highway. It wasn't always Fox's Road.

It was once the Pacific Highway which meandered along across the railway line and then twisted its way through town.

Gatekeeper: Eva Keast gatekeeper at Nambucca Station circa 1957. Photo supplied

Gatekeeper: Eva Keast gatekeeper at Nambucca Station circa 1957. Photo supplied

The defining part of the Fox's Road area is the railway line itself. It cuts the community in two with the station on the East side and the remaining three fettler's cottages on the west.

Built in 1923, the station was a wooden building and there were eight cottages to house the fettlers or railway workers and the station master. In its egalitarian fashion the station master's cottage was no different to the fettlers' and all the cottages were typically government built utilitarian wood and fibro dwellings.

Perhaps it would be kind to say that when built the cottages were on a par with working class expectations but the remainder are now, after nearly a hundred years of wear, dwellings which await the demise of their tenants before being bull dozed.

The house closest to the railway line at a distance of under two metres was the gatekeeper's cottage. In a previous article this was noted as the Keast family home. It is no longer there.

Margaret Fox has lived on the road for 54 years as her husband Tommy was employed as a fettler.

"The gatekeepers cottage was as close to the railway line as your two arms spread out," said Margaret.

"The old North Coast Mail train wasn't as fast as the XPT they have now but the kids were still trained to keep out of their way. In those days the station was a lot busier with more passengers and not part-time staffed as it is now."

At the southern end of Fox's Road an old dirt road veers off to the west. This once led to the farm of the Bird family at Gordon's Knob and Newee Creek. It is rutted by neglect and exposure but the trees which line it still reach majestically up to the skies and the birds sing loudly in this safe reserve.

HERITAGE: Fox's Road sign at Giinagay Way. Photo supplied

HERITAGE: Fox's Road sign at Giinagay Way. Photo supplied

West of Fox's Road is privately owned land which Margaret told me was owned by the Miles and then the Williams families. Their house is still there unlived-in but the land has suffered clearing and is now bereft of trees. A feature of the land around the station is that it is native bush in comparison to most other stations which are more the developed hub of the CBD in country towns.

This only adds to its charm and the opportunity this would make as a walking track for tourists is obvious. The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage acknowledges that "there is an historical and visual relationship with the surrounding area. As such, any proposed development within the vicinity of the railway station should also consider the historic relationship between the station site and its surrounding area."

The Fox's Road area has it all. There's a railway station building typical of 1940's architecture with stripped functionalist detailing, historic fettler's cottages, undisturbed bush land and possible tourist walks. But I'll leave it to Margaret to describe how it got its name.

"When they closed the station in the 1980's I kept the gardens and the lawns going. So when it was changed from the Old Coast Road they named it Fox's Road," said Margaret.

Take a walk down "Margaret's road". It is a real treat.

  • Rachel Burns is a museum volunteer with a passion for history, and a radio presenter on 2NVR in the Nambucca Valley.