Times Gone By: Carroll’s Conditional Purchase


Carroll’s Conditional Purchase

FROM the north, Corinda (Corindi) and Weelgoolga (Woolgoolga) marked the southernmost coastal extent of Grafton’s pastoral runs.

Initially, these runs were largely the domain of pastoralists or capitalists who had the finances or support to provide their own means of access, communication, and infrastructure, along with the labour to achieve it.

From the south, Bellingen’s development was driven largely by merchants of varying means to harvest and transport the area’s stands of timber, particularly cedar.

Both the Clarence and Bellingen River port facilities created entry points for settler expansion into those areas of commerce which reflect the Coffs Harbour LGAs early settlers.

As well as prompting government reservation of lands, Robertson’s 1861 Lands Act legally allowed for the private purchase of freehold land outside designated settlements.

Prohibitive pricing of £1 per acre ensured land remained unaffordable for most of the population but assisted wealthy capitalists and pastoralists gain permanent land tenure.

Several years later, adaptations to the Act meant less prosperous people were able to apply for land under conditional purchases, though it was difficult for them to meet the minimum requirements of occupancy and improvements, resulting in frequent failure.

Within the Coffs Harbour LGA the first to receive land was William Carroll of Grafton who applied on 3 October 1879 for 40 acres fronting the Orara River near Priors Road, Coramba.

In the first year of his selection, he camped in a tent working as a teamster six miles away during the week and undertook improvements to the property on weekends, his longest absence away from the property being three months.

Initially, his wife and four children remained in Grafton, the two eldest children completing their education before permanently moving in with him in the latter part of 1880.

Within three years he had built a house and by 1885 had added fencing and other improvements.

However, in April 1885, he found himself under inquiry with the Land Board and having been found wanting, his land was forfeited.



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