2023 in review with NOTA history columnist Karen Filewood

WHILE 2023 began with a focus on Coffs Harbour’s foreshore, climate, costs of living and increasing debate on the referendum in a year that sometimes felt as if it had more downs than ups, the ‘Times Gone By’ column stepped into the past to start the year by focusing on the area’s maritime history.

The year began with a narrative inspired by the 130th anniversary of the wreck of the ss Belmore on the jetty beach and its attempted salvage.

In October 2023, one of Coffs Harbour’s earliest shipwrecks was investigated with the wreck of the schooner Beaver and the rescue of the crew in 1851 from one of the Solitary Islands.

Then, in December, we discovered the Solitary Islands’ ties to Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton’s missing ice ship Aurora after its disappearance between Australia and America in 1917.

From February to June a marathon mini-series of articles kept us on the edge of our seats during an in-depth look at how the 1919 flu pandemic and its associated government regulations affected the population of Coffs Harbour and its regions.

This journey into afflictions continued during Halloween with an investigation into the strange disappearance of Woolgoolga man, Malcolm Martin and the particularly spine-chilling and quite gruesome discovery of his remains.

On a lighter note, the history and location of Tommy Albert’s Orange Trees and Dark’s corner, the location of the Dark family’s store, was recounted to familiarise ourselves with local place names which will not be found on any map.
Another article examined gift-giving through the donation of land to establish Bonville’s Anglican Church of the Holy Faith and the church’s gift of a family bible to the couple who were first to marry in the new building.

As ever, ‘Times Gone By’ will continue to take you on a journey of discovery into the region’s past, including all things good, bad and plain ugly while aiming to entertain, delight and keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the upcoming year.


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