OPINION – Musing on Pindimar City

Fred Phillips was an incredibly progressive pioneer of and leader in the birth of the oyster industry.

BORN a Yorkshireman in 1865 a young Frederick Phillips made the decision to sail to the land of opportunity – Australia.

The fare to Sydney on board the SS Garonne was £15/15/0, 3 rd class return dated April 27 th 1882. Two hours after stepping onto the Sydney wharf Fred had a job.

“Boy wanted to milk and deliver, 15/- a week”.

So commencing the incredible saga of the Phillips family in Australia.

In Parramatta Fred worked as a builder, then in a timber mill as well as running a small farm with cattle and bees.

In 1889 Fred married a Maitland-born girl Sarah Page and the couple was to have eight children.

In early 1890 Fred moved the family to Nabiac where he continued with his beekeeping before purchasing a sawmill and building a two-storey home with a shop underneath. In 1903 Fred purchased the sailing ship ‘Candidate’ to
ship timber from Forster to Newcastle and Sydney.

Forever searching, Fred was impressed with the Nerong district in Port Stephens which finally led him to Pindimar, where he took up 5,000 acres from the Tea Gardens Road through to the waterfront, where he moved into the fledgling oyster industry and grazed cattle.

Fred Phillips became the major mover promoting the “City of Pindimar”, which he considered to be a real opportunity to progress all his businesses and he also had many acres of land that certainly would have been of interest to the developers.

Such was the interest, Prime Minister of Australia, Billy Hughes came to stay to look over the proposal. At the time Stan Phillips, Fredrick’s son, had a chestnut mare called “Butterfly” which, I’m told, could run 3 furlongs in 39 seconds with a stock saddle and 11 stone on her back.

Unwisely Billy decided to go for a ride on “Butterfly” which bolted up the beach.

Built like a jockey the PM was hanging on as best he could.

When the Pindimar venture was killed off by vested interests in Sydney and Newcastle, Fred turned his attention to
oyster farming in Port Stephens.

Fred Phillips, followed by his son Stan and family members, built an empire which by the 1940s was considered by some the world’s biggest oyster farm.


WEEKLY, throughout the month of August – 8, 15 and 22 – I will be giving a presentation about the history of the Inner
and Outer Lighthouses at the Visitors Information Centre in Nelson Bay.

The free events are being organised by the Tomaree Museum Association.

If anyone has any lighthouse memorabilia they are prepared to share for the occasion could they please email me
at stinkerfishing@yahoo.com.

For more information contact the Tourist Information Centre.

Scenes from an early oyster farm.

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