Coffs Harbour Snapshot References – Coffs Harbour Volumes 1 & 2 by Neil Yeates AR Bluett Memorial Award Submissions Coffs Harbour City Council Annual Reports 2001 Census. Summary of Indigenous history Coffs Harbour was originally settled by the Kumbaingeri tribe, an indigenous tribe known for their tallness and “hurculean” proportions (6’2 – 6’3” men). Good climate and rich resources made lengthy migrations unnecessary for the Kumbaingeri people, who numbered between 1200-1500 in 1845 when they were first observed and documented by Colonial Government Surveyor Clement Hodgkinson. The relatively settled state of local indigenous people accounts for their camp sites having quite substantial shelters. Their harmony with nature was not by chance, but a result of pursuing a way of life which centuries of experience had determined. There were strict codes of social behaviour in relation to marriage and the family group, to maintain a safe balance between the population and its resources. There was a class system and codes of conduct, which were regarded as sacred. Thus there were restrictive rules about food caught or gathered by boys and young women. Each sub-tribe managed its own affairs by camp council, generally with one head man. Descent was determined through the male line, so that a woman on marriage joined her husband’s sub-tribe. There were strict rules about choosing a wife: she must come from another part of the country and must not have been closely related to the prospective husband. Skirmishes between whites and aborigines were sporadic and isolated in the 1840s and 1850s, but took a turn for the worse in the 1860s as settlers moved into the neighbouring Nambucca and Bellingen areas (Kumbaingeri lands) and cleared and occupied their meeting places and hunting grounds. By the end of the first contact period the aborigines were resigned to domination by the white intruders, and many of them found cooperation with the settlers to be expedient, and some regarded the new association favourably, finding work. In the late 1880s a local selector organised a sports day at Coramba for the tribes, and about 600 aborigines turned up for spear and boomerang throwing contests. In later years many enjoyed outdoor work with the whites, becoming proficient horsemen, and serving the police force well as trackers. Captain James Cook and Captain John Korff On May 15, 1770 Captain James Cook sailed past the future site of Coffs Harbour and named our islands the “Solitary Islands”. In or about 1847 Captain John Korff in his ship “Brothers” took shelter from a storm off the southern headland of Coffs Harbour, remaining there for four days, during which time he became impressed with the safety afforded by the coastal configuration. The area became known as “Korffs Harbour” until the name was printed (presumably by mistake) as “Coffs” is a gazettal notice in 1861. Early settlement and the birth of the city and its economy Settlement by Europeans increased in the 1870s to early 1880s, as settlers overflowed from the Bellinger and Clarence River districts. Pioneers logged mainly cedar, shipping to Sydney and internationally. After much lobbying by local selectors and timber getters, the Coffs Harbour Jetty was built, and completed in August 1892. Later years saw the Jetty modified with a crane and rail tracks, and the structure was lengthen by 1914. The Raleigh to Coffs Harbour section of the North Coast railway was completed in 1915. In the early years, cedar and produce became the foundations of our economy. Settlers found that bananas grew well in our climate, and that they tasted sweeter than many other varieties grown elsewhere. Bananas By 1955 Coffs Harbour was considered the major banana producing area in Australia, and the industry was the backbone of our economy. The industry has recorded a number of boom and bust cycles since the 1920s. In the late 1960s Coffs Harbour’s banana industry had reached its peak, when NSW produced 80 per cent of the nation’s bananas. In the past 30 years, this situation has been reversed, with major plantings in Queensland now accounting for about 75 per cent of national production. The area under bananas in our region has been declining steadily at about five per cent per annum for the past 10 years. Gold Rush The discovery of gold here in the 19th century was responsible for the development of several of our rural towns. Gold was discovered in the Orara Valley in 1881; when two brothers stumbled across a block of quartz, while searching for, believe it or not, stray bullocks. The discovery by the Sharpe brothers, I believe, may have caused just a little friction with the Nicholson family, who had just left the campfire site where the gold was found. The Sharpes found the mother lode and other prospectors made counter claims, resulting in a year of battles before the Sharpes won the legal right to what was known as the Lady Matilda Mine. Other reefs were discovered nearby, and the Orara Goldfield was proclaimed in August 1881. A Mining Warden's Office was opened at what was to become a bustling settlement, the town of Nana Glen. In 1897 the mines produced their best annual yield, 9,000 ounces of gold. In total, the local gold mines produced 38,000 ounces, until most mining ceased in 1960. However, there is the odd prospector still to be found panning and digging for his elusive fortune! Almost 80 years of gold mining helped the rural area prosper, with Upper Orara Valley farmers making an income from supplying the miners and their families with meat, milk, butter, eggs, and fruit and vegetables. In 1895, further gold discoveries led to the establishment of mines near Coramba, with regal names such as Coramba King and Coramba Queen mines. Other mines opened that year, and with 220 miners at work, the Coramba mines produced about 1500 ounces in 1895. Their best year was in 1897, when 9000 ounces of gold were extracted. The presence of the miners and their families was instrumental to the growth of Coramba, developing the small town to the point where it required its own police station, post office and court house. Coramba soon became the headquarters of what was then the Dorrigo Shire. Tourism A Mid North Coast Tourist Authority was established in 1956, and a tourist festival was held in 1959, with bands, water skiing displays by the Ampol team, parachute drops into the harbour, and sheep dog trials. New caravan parks began to appear, and The Banana Bowl Tourist Resort was opened at Korora in December 1960. The Banana Bowl featured a natural swimming pool, 36-powered campsites, many more un-serviced sites, a toilet block, and a shop. Park proprietor John Hill’s adjoining 100-acre banana plantation was a great attraction, offering good walks for visitors. The NRMA listed the Banana Bowl holiday park, and within one year it was acclaimed as the best privately owned tourist attraction in the district. Just four years later, in 1964, locals John Landi and John Enevoldson established The Big Banana as a tourist attraction. The year previously, a huge model banana made by Mr WB King jnr had been used as a symbol of Coffs Harbour at a Boy Scouts jamboree in Macksville. Mr Landi and Mr Enevoldson began advertising in 1964, with invitations for the public to “See and walk through the biggest banana in the world; see the nursery, enjoy a panoramic view, watch the snakes and tame animals; browse through our art and gift shop; try our American milkshakes and hamburgers – seven days a week, admission free.” In its first week of operation it became clear The Big Banana was going to be an outstanding success for our city. In that first week, Christmas 1964, more than 4,000 visitors a day were checked in, and the press quickly dubbed the “Horticultural mammoth” as “the district’s major tourist attraction.” From The Big Banana, our tourism industry has thrived. Now, tourism brings in an estimated $400 million to the Coffs Coast region each year. And the industry is still growing. The Local Government Area By 1947 Coffs was an untidy sprawling centre in the huge Dorrigo Shire, represented by only one councillor in a council of six, who met monthly at Coramba. Coffs could claim only six miles of formed streets, onto which stock frequently strayed. Add to this packs of stray dogs, a treeless environment (ringbarked or felled), a lack of parks and playgrounds and it was little wonder the Coffs Harbour chamber of commerce pressured the shire council and the department of Local Government into establishing a local urban committee. In 1946 the Dorrigo Shire Council had resolved to form a Coffs Harbour Town Planning Committee, but it wasn’t until 1948 that the broader issues of zonal development for the town was given serious consideration. Council resolved in 1947 to relocate from Coramba to Coffs Harbour but costs prohibited this move until 1951. Minutes show the first Dorrigo Shire Council meeting was held in Coffs Harbour on 25 July, 1951. Shire Status A battle for shire status for Coffs Harbour waged for many years until the name of the new shire “Coffs Harbour” was proclaimed by gazettal on 30.11.1956. It was to come into effect on January 1, 1957. Significantly, the new “coastal” shire took in Sawtell, Boambee and Bonville (formerly Bellingen Shire) and the greater part of Dorrigo Plateau was transferred to Bellingen Shire. City Status Coffs Harbour was declared a city on the first of September, 1987. To celebrate its new status Council provided chocolates and roses to all passengers on the first flight out of Sydney to the new city. Council then continued to celebrate the day with morning tea in the foyer of the chamber, and there were light beverages and entertainment throughout the day. At one stage during the morning about 200 pensioners arrived by bus to join in the activities and they were made very welcome with even more cups of tea and cake. Since that day, the city has seen many changes in the way it has developed both within the central business district and beyond Also, many of these changes have been either initiated or supported by Council in its endeavour to make the city a better place and to be recognised as a regional centre. As a coastal regional centre, Council recognises that our infrastructure and natural attractions are not only used by residents but also by the large floating population of visitors that flock to the city, especially during the summer months. Air Services Some of the most recognisable changes brought about by the various councils over the years include the upgrading of the airport, both on the tarmac or air side and in the terminal itself. We are now able to accommodate 737. A milestone in the city’s history involved the charter flights from New Zealand and the facilities which are now in place to accommodate quarantine and custom services. Our airport has been expanded in recent years, and the precincts now include flight commercial training facilities for international students. Education On the education front, council is a supporter of the multi-purpose education campus on Hogbin Drive, Coffs Harbour Education Campus, which now offers secondary schooling, TAFE education, and is a campus of the Southern Cross University. In recent years we have seen strong growth in the campus English Language Training Centre. In the past two years we have also seen the opening of the National Marine Science Centre at Charlesworth Bay. There is are expanding international aviation training facilities in the city, and new opportunities for medical education through the University of NSW, in addition to a growing technology industry through the CHEC’s new technology centre. Gardens We have seen what has become the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden develop and this was officially opened in 1998. Development of the Garden has been a joint effort between Council and the volunteer group Friends of the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden. In addition to it being a major tourist attraction with the second highest visitation rate on the north coast, the garden is an important centre for research, education and recreation, a major function of the Garden is to preserve a botanical collection of native and exotic sub-tropical flora including natural species endemic to the site. It has a seed bank of native flora, which is exported to other institutions all over the world. Water Karangi Dam was enlarged in the 1990s, doubling its holding capacity to accommodate our demand for water. Coffs Harbour has now partnered with other local government areas and the State Government in the $110 million regional water Supply Project to provide a regional water supply, with a larger storage facility at Shannon Creek. Pipelines from our Karangi dam to the Nymboida River have already been built, and provided us with vital supplies during the recent drought. When completed, the new 30,000 megalitre storage facility will provide water from Sawtell in the south to Iluka in the north. This facility combined with water efficiency measures will meet our needs for water to 2020 and beyond. Sewerage Council has also partnered with the State Government to develop the Coffs Harbour Sewerage Strategy, which includes construction of a new deep sea release to replace three existing ocean outfalls, plus upgrades to treatment plants, sewering of Arrawarra, Arrawarra Headland and Mullaway urban areas, and construction of 41km of pipeline to carry reclaimed water for commercial use of crops and fields. Already a number of banana growers are using reclaimed water, as are nurseries and sporting facilities. Council has also purchased and established a farm for trials of reclaimed water in various agricultural pursuits. Sporting facilities and sport development During the past decade we’ve seen the construction of an international sports stadium at Marshall Estate. The stadium has the best playing surface of any sporting facility in regional New South Wales. It has been able to attract international and national sporting teams, including various National Rugby League trial matches, the Oceania trials for World Cup Soccer, the British and Irish Lions rugby union team, national AFL trials, and international women's soccer, in addition to numerous national touch football fixtures, and even the ING cricket. Coffs Harbour is now the Home training base for the Wallabies, Australia's representative rugby union side. Wallaby captain George Gregan is an active roving ambassador for the city. Coffs Harbour is successfully pursuing a range of national and international sporting events in its bid to further develop the sports tourism industry. Waste Management England’s Road recycling centre was constructed in 1995, and is in the process of continuous improvement, with a view to regional waste services. Coffs Harbour is recognised as being a leading light in its waste management program and the waste management conferences held here annually attract delegates from throughout Australia. We were selected by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum to advise Suva City in Fiji on solutions to its waste issues. Environment Coffs harbour is without doubt one of the leading local government authorities in environmental protection and enhancement. Coffs Harbour City Council won the inaugural Prime Minister's Environment Award for Sustainable Communities in 2000 in recognition of water and sewerage projects, the ground-breaking Koala Management Plan, waste services and numerous planning and environmental initiatives. The city was also the gold award winner of the United Nations-sponsored Nations In Bloom competition for Liveable Cities, in 2002. Coffs Harbour became the first Australian city to win this international award. We continue to work towards energy efficiencies through the International Cities for Climate Protection Program. Economic Development The city actively pursues economic opportunities to stimulate growth and create employment. We support and encourage the growth of emerging industries such as health, aviation, technology, education, aged services, tourism and sport, in addition to supporting existing industries. An award-winning example of our work in the retail and business sector is the revitalisation of the Coffs Harbour City Centre, funded through a special rate on landholders in the precincts. This project has won commendations from the Royal Australian Planning Institute (NSW Division), and has led to numerous consultancies to other cities looking to bolster their retail and business centres. Council is also investing in revitalisation of other business and retail centres, including our rural areas. A major project currently in the planning stages is the revitalisation of our Jetty Foreshores, our front door. Social Development One of the significant initiatives of the council in recent years has been the formation of an Aboriginal liaison committee dealing with a range of issues, and the establishment of the Grace Roberts Community Development Awards for indigenous residents. Through open and regular communication, through recognition and encouragement of the efforts of our indigenous community, the city has begun to works towards true reconciliation with our land's traditional inhabitants. Other recent achievements for our community include provision of new libraries, provision of a new and expanded Regional Art Gallery, and planning for an entertainment centre and refurbishment of our historic Jetty Memorial Theatre. The city is developing a stronger cultural environment through its cultural development plan, and stronger links with youth through the Youth Strategic Plan. Our library initiatives are an outstanding success. The cities three libraries offer programs for children, and Internet training for all ages. In the 2001/2002 financial year we saw more than 1000 new members join our library! Not bad for a city with a population of 62,000. Coffs Harbour City Council, through programs such as Streets Ahead, fosters community cohesion through a range of festivals and events throughout the local government area. Awards Recent major awards for Coffs Harbour include: • 2000 inaugural Prime Minister's Environment Award for Sustainable Communities • The prestigious AR Bluett Memorial Award for the most efficient local government authority in NSW for the 2000/2001 financial year. • 2002 - recognised as the World's Most Liveable City with a population up to 75,000 people, through the United Nations-sponsored Nations In Bloom Awards for Liveable Communities. • 2 Royal Australian Planning Institute Awards for the City Centre Revitalisation Project and the Local Environmental Plan. Profile Our city area of around 900 square kilometres includes 50 km of scenic coastline and a hinterland of rural valleys and mountain forests. Our mountains rise close to the sea framing a narrow coastal plain, which also borders the Solitary Islands Marine Park. Our population is close to 62,000. Indigenous population - 1,809 (2.9%). Age - median age in 2001 was 39 years. Marital status - In 1991 there were 25,545 married people (52.2%), 4,559 divorced people (9.4%), 3,418 widowed people (7.1%), and 12,905 people who had never been married (26.7%). Ancestry - In 1991 the three most common ancestries were Australian with 28,335 responded (37.9%), English with 24,285 responses (32.5%) and Irish with 6,945 responses (9.3%). A total of 74,717 responses were received. Birthplace - 83.3% of those responding to the 2001 census stated they were Australian-born. Of those born overseas, the three main countries of birth were: United Kingdom (2,901 - 4.7%), New Zealand (821, 1.3%), and India (402, 0.65%). The Indian and Italian communities have contributed largely to our agricultural economy since the turn of the century. There are at least 36 nationalities represented in the local government area, from all reaches of the globe.
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