Wauchope

Wauchope
Typical rural service centre noted for its excellent attraction - 'Timbertown'.
Located on the Hastings River 406 km north of Sydney via the Pacific Highway, 10 km west of the highway and 9 metres above sea level, Wauchope is a thriving service centre which is affectionately referred to as 'the heart of the Hastings'.

The Gadang Aborigines had been living in this rich, heavily-timbered land for tens of thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. The first European in the area was Surveyor John Oxley who named Mount Seaview (because he could see the sea) and the Hastings River (after Lord Warren Hasting, Governor of India) as he passed through the area in 1818.

By 1820 cedar was being cut in the district and a year later, after he had travelled up the coast to inspect it, Governor Lachlan Macquarie established Port Macquarie as a penal colony. By 1826 there were experiments with sugar cane along the banks of the Hastings River.

In 1828 a number of land grants were made along the Hastings River but it wasn't until 1836 that the village of Wauchope came into existence. In that year Captain Robert Andrew Wauch (he had dropped 'ope' from the end of his name as a result of a family dispute) paid a deposit on 760 acres on King Creek. He called this property 'Wauchope' and it was on this property that the town would eventually develop.

Progress in the valley was slow. Droughts and floods in the 1840s drove many farmers from their lands. Captain Wauch was ruined by the Depression that followed.

Life in the valley was driven by river trade (boats sailed upstream to near the present town site), the establishment of the village of Ennis and the movement of rural traffic through the New England district. A school was opened in 1868 and the Ennis post office was moved to the Wauchope general store on 7 May 1883. Sawmills, butter factories (1892), the Court House (1902), and the arrival of the railway (19150 all saw the town continue to grow.

Wauchope, because of its proximity to the large coastal holiday resort town of Port Macquarie, was never going to become a major rural centre. It has, however, become an important timber (at various times the town's railway yards have handled more timber than any other Australian town and the district reputedly has the country's largest blackbutt forest) and the surrounding mixed farming has given the town a reputation as an important dairy farming centre.

Things to see:

Timbertown Pioneer Village
The major attraction at Wauchope is the Timbertown Pioneer Village which has literally dozens of houses recreating an old timber town of the 1880s. There is a blacksmith, a leather-worker and other craftspeople, a railway station, a steam train, a steam sawmill, shops, a bakery, a pub and barbecue facilities. This is a really very good pioneer town set on 87 acres. Entry is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors and children and $12.00 for a family of two adults and two children. You pay for the rides and experiences once you are inside the gate. It is open daily from 9.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. on the Oxley Highway, 2 km west of town, tel: (02) 6586 1940.

Wauchope Historical Society
At the edge of the Timbertown car park is the Wauchope Historical Society. It is located in a small timber church which has been reconstructed on the present site. Inside is an interesting display of photographs, memorabilia and equipment associated with the local timber industry. The museum is a perfect complement to the Timbertown Pioneer Village.

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Historic Buildings
The town has a small number of historic buildings. There is the stolid old Court House is located in Hastings Street. There is also the old Bank Building, now a solicitors office, which was built in 1888 and stands in Cameron Street just of the Main Street.

Broken Bago Vineyards
Broken Bago Vineyards are open for wine tastings and sales. They have picnic-barbecue areas and are located 30 minutes south of Wauchope. Head south out of town along Cameron St which becomes Bago Rd then turn off into Milligans Rd, tel: (02) 6585 7099.

Wilson River Primitive Reserve and Cobrabald
Follow the Oxley Highway west out of Wauchope. 1 km beyond the post office, turn right on the Kempsey Rd, crossing the Hastings River on the low level Bains Bridge. Keep left at the next intersection and turn right towards the Bellangry State Forest just before Beechwood. Proceed into the Bellangry State Forest along the Hastings Forest Highway to the 5 Way Intersection. From this point a diversion can be made down the Cobrabald Recreation Area to attractive picnic areas at Wild Bull Park, which offers open spaces and river swimming, and Bluff Park.

From 5 Ways, proceed along the Hastings Forest Highway to the Wilson River turnoff and descend 7 km into the Wilson River Primitive Reserve which offers botanic walks through ancient rainforests at the headwater of the Wilson River.

Return directly along Hastings Forest Highway. Another diversion can be made to No.1 Fire Tower from where there are excellent views of the area. The sealed road only extends as far as Bellangry.

Werrikembe National Park
Werrikembe National Park can be accessed via the Forbes River Rd which heads north off the Oxley Highway, 49 km west of Wauchope. The brochure on the Park notes 'Because of its remoteness and size Werrikembe National Park requires several days of exploration'. However two areas are relatively easy to access from Wauchope. Take the Hastings Forest Way through Bellangry and you can reach

(a) Grass Tree Picnic Area - overlooks a small waterfall. It is particularly attractive in late spring and early summer when the wildflowers are in bloom. The walking track links up with Brushy Mountain Rest Area

(b) Brushy Mountain Rest Area offers panoramic views towards the coast and the Macleay River Valley. The bird life is abundant and there is drinking water available from a mountain stream.

The park is 35 000 hectares and is designed to preserve temperate and sub-tropical rainforests as well as a number of rare plant and animal species including the Downy Guinea Flower, the Pygmy Cypress and the Filmy King Fern. The park is also the habitat of the Hastings River Mouse and the Rufous Scrub Bird.

Camden Haven Tours
Camden Haven Tours offer coach tours of the Camden Haven and Hastings Valley area, tel: (02) 6559 9503.

Timbertown Resort & Motel
230 High St
Wauchope NSW 2446
Telephone: (02) 6585 1355
Rating: ***1/2

Wauchope Motel
84 High St
Wauchope NSW 2446
Telephone: (02) 6585 1933
Rating: ***

Hastings Hotel
Cnr High & Cameron Sts
Wauchope NSW 2446
Telephone: (02) 6586 1963
Rating: *

Star Hotel
45 Cameron St
Wauchope NSW 2446
Telephone: (02) 6585 2004

Breckenridge Farmstay
481-483 King Creek Rd
Wauchope NSW 2446
Telephone: (02) 6585 2303

Hastings Hotel Restaurant
Cnr High & Cameron St
Wauchope NSW 2446
Telephone: (02) 6585 2003

The Star Chinese Restaurant
45 Cameron St
Wauchope NSW 2446
Telephone: (02) 6585 1851

Youngs Chinese Restaurant
Young St
Wauchope NSW 2446
Telephone: (02) 6585 2177

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