SHINING A LIGHT ON OUR
HERITAGE AND MUSEUMS
In celebration of
The Australian Heritage Festival
1 April – 31 May 2022
Discover the rich history of the Mid North Coast...
Tucked away in museums big and small all over the Mid North Coast are some rare treasures and some very everyday objects. However they all have a story to tell of the fascinating and varied history and changing lifestyles of the region. This rich heritage is found not only in the stories and collections of our museums but also in our buildings and landscapes.
SHINE 2022 celebrates the Australian Heritage Festival by shining a light on the special and unique heritage of the Mid North Coast region. We feature special events and showcase our local museums and Keeping Places, heritage walks, archeological sites and underground treasures, stunning lighthouses, exhibitions and more.
There’s so much to explore and discover about our creative coast!
Every week during the SHINE Festival we will be breaking a major news feature about heritage on the Mid North Coast.
The Port Macquarie Museum has completed a master plan and schematic design project which reveals the transformation of its building in Clarence Street, Port Macquarie into a brand new, fit for purpose, regional museum to sustainably meet the cultural needs of generations to come. The master plan and schematic design project was funded with a…Read More
The future of the Slim Dusty Centre as a cultural, community and tourism facility was secured in late 2021 when Kempsey Shire Council agreed to permanently take over ownership and management of the facility. The Centre had been developed and previously managed by the Slim Dusty Foundation. The decision came after the Council had undertaken…Read More
History is written by the victors – so the saying goes – and local history has in the past usually been seen from the viewpoint of the most visible majority. But a project by the Museum and Gallery team at Coffs Harbour City Council has been uncovering local lesser-known or hidden stories. The innovative project…Read More
Coramba is a small village servicing around 800 people in the Orara Valley tucked into the hinterland 15 minutes north west of Coffs Harbour. The centre of local life for over a century has been the Coramba Hall. This former School of Arts was built in 1914 on land donated by William Gale and built…Read More
Journeys (working title) is a project being undertaken in 2022 by the Mid North Coast Chapter of Museums and Galleries Australia. The project focuses on stories about immigration, travel including tourism, and transport and connects moveable cultural heritage collections to historic places on the Mid North Coast including those on the State Heritage Register. Traditionally…Read More
Museums are an integral part of our community and cultural life telling stories of places, people and objects. Although our SHINE Breaking News feature has been highlighting stories of major developments with some of our larger museums in the region it is important to note there are nearly 30 smaller, usually community run museums in…Read More
If you have not been to the National Cartoon Gallery (formerly known as the Bunker Gallery) in Coffs Harbour since Covid restrictions then you won’t have seen the major changes that were completed in the first quarter of 2021. Known for its original gallery in a World War Two bunker there is now a large…Read More
The Coffs Harbour Regional Museum in Harbour Drive closed its doors at the end of February as Council prepares for the opening of a vibrant museum in Yarrila Place, the new Council and Civic space in the heart of the CBD. Visitors stepping across the threshold into the city’s new Museum and Gallery – Yarrila Arts…Read More
The Port Macquarie Museum opened a new digital exhibit earlier this year reimaging Annabella Boswell’s archives. “Annabella Boswell’s archives are amongst the most significant items in our collection having been inscribed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World in 2019”, says Debbie Sommers, Port Macquarie Museum curator. “We wanted to use a mix of…Read More
Arts Mid North Coast is to develop later in 2022, a new stand alone website, Postcards from the Mid North Coast, to feature stories from our many museums that will wow potential visitors and have them saying “we did not know that or we must find out more about that”. It will not necessarily equate with objects of…Read More
The Port Macquarie Museum has recently opened a new creative exhibition that focuses on bringing selected items from the Museum’s collection to life in the 21st century. New Journeys Broad Horizons is the work of Port Macquarie art practitioner Lucy Frost. Lucy’s artistic talents extend far beyond the visual arts. She is also an accomplished circus…Read More
A significant Aboriginal site on the NSW mid-north coast has been listed on the State Heritage Register in recognition of its cultural and spiritual importance to the Garby Elders of the Gumbaynggirr people. Minister for Heritage James Griffin said the Arrawarra Headland and Stone Fish Traps near Coffs Harbour have been an important meeting place…Read More
Comboyne’s 1905-built police station and gaol have a new lease of life, while paying tribute to history. Owners Anne-Marie and Peter Newman have restored the original cedar cottage, which served as Comboyne’s first police station, and the slab-timber former gaol in River Street. Research into Comboyne and the site fed into the project as the…Read More
Uncover archeological treasures and the hidden history of our region. From Aboriginal fish traps to gold mines and underground bunkers.
The Jalumbo Keeping Place at Yarrawarra Cultural Centre houses a cultural collection representing over 4,000 years of Aboriginal life on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. The collection was created through the Jalumbo Cultural Heritage Research Unit established by the Yarrawarra Aboriginal Corporation and the Garby Elders.
Also nearby are the recently heritage listed Arrawarra Fish Traps - ancient stone fish traps on the Arrawarra Headland of the Coffs Coast are thought to be more than a thousand years old and were used traditionally by the Garby Elders to capture fish. During the 20th century, local commercial fishers also used the traps to store live lobsters for sale. Read more about the heritage listing announcement of Arrawarra Headland and Stone Fish Traps here.
In Coffs Harbour you'll find remnants of our wartime history in the underground bunkers dotted around the region. The National Cartoon Gallery on City Hill is housed in one of the best known example of these structures, and is open to the public 6 days a week.
This heritage listed bunker was constructed in 1943 during World War II as the radio communication headquarters for the RAAF. The bunker originally housed radio equipment needed to protect navy ships and citizens. After the war, the bunker was used as a communication facility by the Civil Aviation Authority until 1980. The bunker then fell into disuse for many years, until some ingenious local Rotarians turned the space into the dedicated cartoon gallery that it is today.
A prominent land mark in the very historic town of Stroud along the Thunderbolt Way is Silo Hill. These eight silos were built under the direction of Captain Phillip P. King for the Australian Agricultural Company in 1841 and are able to store 10,000 bushels of grain.
Constructed from handmade bricks of local clay in a bottle shape with an entry hole at the top, the silos were successful in resisting attacks on the grain from weevil and fly moth. The silos originally had a roof over them to keep the weather out. Most of the silos are now covered up with a concrete cover and are no longer accessible. On the site you'll find two cannons originally used to defend Sydney Harbour during the Crimean War (1855-56), before being sent to Fort Scratchley in Newcastle, then finally laid to rest in Stroud in 1909.
In 1996 an archaeological dig on what is now the site of the Glasshouse discovered a number of State significant archaeological remnants on site. The decision was taken that rather than lose this heritage beneath building foundations they be incorporated and showcased into the new cultural centre to be built on site.
The footings of the 1823 Convict Overseers cottages have been preserved for all to see on the lower ground floor of the Glasshouse as well as the display of many objects found during the excavation of the site. These give a very real insight into the beginnings of this colonial town nearly 200 years ago.
Shipwrecks of the Mid North Coast
With an exposed coastline of treacherous seas and shifting sand bars at our many river mouths, it is not surprising there have been many ships wrecked overtime on the Mid North Coast. At times there is an opportunity to see some of these remnants. Springtide and big swells offshore, often associated with a low-pressure system along the east coast, are ideal conditions that expose shipwreck sites.
The 39-metre, 310-ton Buster ran aground on Woolgoolga Beach in 1893, when it was visiting the area to load timber to take to New Zealand. During a storm, it lost its anchor and was washed onto the beach where it has remained ever since. While the wreck had been uncovered almost annually in recent times major storms in 2021 saw much more of the hull exposed than usual, however, it was visible only for a couple of weeks before being reclaimed.
In 2022 unique weather conditions led to further exposure of the 50-year-old ferry wrecks, the Sydney Queen, Lurgurena and Koondooloo, at South West Rocks. The three decommissioned ferries were destined for the Philippines for repurposing or scrapping in January 1972. But the towline between the ferries and the towing tug Polaris was severed. The Polaris managed to get to Trial Bay where the ferries were moored, but a strong wind a day or so later swept the vessels ashore onto the beach where they have remained ever since. If you are lucky enough to see any of these wrecks please note at all times they are protected by our maritime archaeology laws and regulations.
As you wander the central part of Port Macquarie there is still evidence to be seen of early colonial life. This includes.
- On Clarence Street in the public forecourt area of the Glasshouse you will find a brick barrel drain of early Port Macquarie (1823) conserved and displayed under glass. This was part of an ordered system of water and waste management.
- On Munster Street there is an example of one of the early wells used in the town. This one was used by inmates of the Female factory. The convict made bricks around the rim bear various identification marks known as ‘frogs’.
- On the north side of William Street between Horton and hay Streets there are small sections left of early paving. In the late 19th century ships’ ballast stones were used to pave the sides of some of the town’s main streets to improve drainage.
Head out to the Copeland Tops State Conservation area and discover the rich heritage of this land at the foothill of Barrington Tops. There are a variety of guided walks and tours available. The Mountain Maid Gold Mine Tour allows you to step back in time and uncover the hidden treasures of a real gold mine and discover its historic buildings and even pan for gold. Tours are generally available every Wednesday and Saturday. There is even a special Ghost Tour for the brave at heart. For pricing and tour times please call 1300 072 757 or check the National Parks website.
Our Cultural Trails
Our cultural trails are a great way to explore the heritage and history of the Mid North Coast. You'll find Aboriginal experiences, regional museums, fascinating heritage places and beautiful cultural walks right here. You can even explore our histories in the comfort of your own home with our online trails.