Aboriginal Australians may have arrived at our site as much as 40,000 years ago. Towards the end of the last ice age, between 14,000 and 8,000 years ago, the sea level rose as ice sheets around the world melted. This would have flooded the Ourimbah Creek valley at least as far up as our site.
When our site was drilled for water in 2004, charcoal was brought up from the sediment about 10 m below the present land surface. This charcoal is likely to be some thousands of years old and may even have been the result of deliberate burning by Aborigines. It may be worth investigating to see what tree species the charcoal derives from (any offers?).
Our site was first mapped by Felton Mathew in 1831, when the forest was essentially in its original condition. Much of what we know about that forest we owe to his wife, Sarah Mathew. She was a keen observer and, in 1834, she noted that it still had
"...belts of dense brush absolutely impervious to the sun's rays... These brushes always border creeks and gullies and are composed of rank vegetation in every shape; trees of gigantic height, the magnificent and graceful palms and the beautiful feathery fern tree are all collected here with vines of immense size twisting their snakelike branches to the tops of the tallest trees and hanging in grotesque forms from one to another..." (Wyong Council)
Sarah had grown up amid the more modest forests of England and was thrilled by the exuberant growth of what we now call subtropical rainforest. Common enough then, it is now endangered on the Central Coast. Some Sarah Mathew's diary is pictured here and it can also be seen on the website of the National Library of Australia.
Scott, in the Ecology of the Tuggerah Lakes - Historical Records
quotes a source suggesting that some 15,000 ft of cedar had been cut from the valleys draining into Tuggerah Lake by 1832. Gosford library have placed the original advertisments for the subdivision of our site on line in the links that follow. These show that the site was part of the McQuoid Estate that was subdivided for farms in 1887. Most of the original subdivisions were again offered for sale in 1926. In 1977, a weir was constructed near the site of the old Footts Rd bridge, which, apart from concrete supports, was removed.
At this meeting in 2001, our members are talking to Laurie Brown, then aged 80 (3rd from R). Laurie was the second generation of his family to farm part of our site. His citrus orchards were acquired for freeway construction more than 30 years ago.
Currently, our Landcare site is owned in part by NSW Roads & Maritime Services and in part by Central Coast Council.
See changes in vegetation on our site over the last 69 years here.