Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bellbrook's Aborigines - a working note

Classified by the national trust as a heritage village, Bellbrook is located 474 km from Sydney via the Pacific Highway and lies 46 km north-west of Kempsey in the Upper Macleay on the main road between Kempsey and Armidale.

The following material on Bellbrook is taken from Kempsey Shire Heritage.

"Bellbrook was settled by timber cutters and graziers in the mid 1830s and for most of that century there was very active antagonism between the local Aborigines (Thunghutti) and the settlers. Consequently the settlement was slow to develop and small scale.

Robert McKenzie, a sheep grazier, is recorded in 1837 as being the first squatter. By 1865 25 squatting licences had been issued covering 170,000 hectares of Thunghutti land.

The name Bellbrook was adopted as the official title for the first Post Office in 1882 at the suggestion of James Chapman Toose who established the office at the junction of Nulla Nulla Creek and the Macleay River. Prior to that the office was a Telegraph Station.

It is believed that Caroline McMaugh, wife of an early settler John McMaugh, named the village. At the time numbers of Bellbirds inhabited the dense scrub along Nulla Nulla Creek.

In 1885 the Aborigines were placed on 36.4 hectares of Aboriginal Protection Land near Bellbrook. In 1892 the village was laid out and gazetted as Bellbrook. This village is classified by the National Trust as a heritage village."

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