Culture and heritage

Maritime heritage

Northern rivers

MAP - NSW maritime heritage sites

In the 1800s the Northern Rivers of NSW was developed for its timber resources. There was an immense hunger for timber in Australia and overseas. Private homes and public buildings used timber for framing, wall cladding, shingles and floorboards. The massive 1860s expansion of railway transport relied on the thousands of trees from which timber sleepers were produced to support the iron railway lines.

Most of this was transported on ships and, until the latter part of the 1800s, most ships were built almost entirely of wood. The plentiful supplies of timber along the NSW north coast rivers and their flood plains ensured that each river was accompanied by an active shipbuilding industry. Vast areas of flood plain were laid bare by the clearance of the forests. These provided fertile ground for agriculture, grazing and dairy herds.

The banks of the great rivers of the north coast were soon lined with bustling communities. They had wharf facilities, pilot stations, police stations, banks, wholesale and retail businesses, post offices and churches - all crowded near the river to service the loading and receiving goods and people from ships, barges and river droghers.

The north coast had known thousands of years of relative stability. In a very short space of time the landscape, the communities, the industries and the transport systems changed dramatically. Perhaps one feature that remains consistent even today is that the rivers are the heart of the New South Wales north coast.

Page last updated: 31 August 2012