Karuah Local History Group calling on community to research The Branch

ALL THAT's LEFT: An image of an old mill boiler chimney in Karuah. Picture: Karuah Local History Group

ALL THAT's LEFT: An image of an old mill boiler chimney in Karuah. Picture: Karuah Local History Group

THE Karuah Local History Group is calling on the community to help with its next project.

The group is asking anyone with memories of The Branch – a slice of land near Karuah once belonging to the Australian Agricultural Company.

Information will be collated and used for a book on The Branch the group is looking to publish.

“Group members would be pleased to hear from anyone with details of life at The Branch,” Robyn Witt, secretary of Karuah Local History Group, said.

“To complete the project they are in need of information on life at The Branch since 1950.  

“They would particularly like to hear from anyone with details of CSR and  AMP’s involvement in the  area, also anyone involved with the development of Karuah Waters Estate in the 1980’s.”

The Branch was originally part of a one million acre grant of land belonging to the Australian Agricultural Company.  

The grant covered an area from Port Stephens to the Manning River.  

In 1826 the AAC established their headquarters at Carrington, Port Stephens, and settlements developed at Booral and Stroud.  

In the 1840’s times were difficult for the company.  

By 1850 land was being offered for sale in lots of 50 acres or more, at £1 per acre.    

Among those securing lots in the 1850’s were timber-getters, and sawmills were built in a number of places along both the Karuah and Myall rivers.  

The Branch came into its own in the 1890’s when a sawmill was built by Les and Bob Davies.  

The township thrived and grew to about thirty homes, with its own school, church and community hall.

The mill was the main source of work, although other businesses came there as well, such as a blacksmith and a wheelwright.  

The last owners of the mill were Armstrong and Royse. It closed in the 1930’s.

With the closure of the mill the village went into decline.  

Masonite Corporation’s Raymond Terrace hardboard mill opened in 1938.

The corporation was acquired by CSR in 1959, who purchased land in the area to supply timber to the Raymond Terrace mill.   

Another large land owner was AMP, who reared beef cattle on their holdings, purchased in the early 1970’s.

Today an old cricket pitch is all that is left of the village, and a decaying brick chimney is all that remains of the mill.   

But since the 1980’s the area has had a new lease of life, and a thriving community exists once again.

Anyone with information about The Branch is encouraged to contact Ms Witt on 4997 5593 or localhistory14@gmail.com or Lloyd Mitchell on 4997 5943 or lloyd1941@bigpond.com.

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