History

Throughout the Manning Valley there are reminders of our proud indigenous, pioneering, agricultural and maritime history.

The original occupiers of the Manning Valley were speakers of the Biripi language.  Today the term Biripi has come to signify the people rather than just the language.

The first European settlers and explorers arrived in the Manning Valley in the early 1800’s.  As they arrived they observed the lifestyle of the populous Aboriginal people, spread over the entire region, occupying all manner of ecosystems, marine, riverine and inland.  The Manning River under-wrote their existence providing seafood and tropical fruits in the rainforests that lined the river. Indeed the name Taree came from the Aboriginal name “Tareebit” which translated means “fruit of the wild fig”.

There were distinct groups of Aboriginal people and attributed lands around various points in the landscape.  These distinct groups had lifestyles and material cultures varying slightly from one another, depending upon their immediate environment. However, they all spoke the Biripi language.

Saltwater Reserve has special significance for the local Aboriginal community. It contains Aboriginal sites which relate to Dreamtime beliefs. The reserve is part of the Saltwater National Park.

European recognition of the Manning Valley dates back to Captain Cook’s voyage along the east coast in 1770 when he named the mountain ranges to the north of Taree as South, Middle and North Brother mountains.

John Oxley first explored the Manning Valley in 1818 when he named Harrington on the mouth of the Manning River. Later that same year he named the second Manning River outlet Farquhar Lake, believing it to be lake rather than a river outlet. Today the area is known as Old Bar. In Harrington and Crowdy Head, information signs can be found on Pilot Hill and Crowdy Headland outlining the macabre maritime history with stories of ship wrecks and drowning’s.

The first township settlement was “Bungay” at Wingham as a farm settlement in the 1840s and Wingham and Tinonee were established in the 1850s as government towns, their function being river ports for the cedar trade. These towns, along with Taree and Cundletown on both sides of the Manning River boast rich pioneering and agricultural history, which can be discovered at one of our three regional museums located at Tinonee, Wingham and Cundletown.

The last of the Australian bushrangers – Jimmy Governor, an Aboriginal (The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith) was captured at Bobin near Wingham. The jail where he was held before he was hung still stands near Wingham at Tinonee.

In the Manning Valley we are proud of our heritage and look forward to sharing it with you.