Monday, June 25, 2007

Gwydir River - Rocky River

Photo: Rocky River School. This school, the first National School in northen New South Wales, was held in a slab hut intil 1870, when a brick classroom and attached residence (still standing) was built by Alexander Mitchell (builder of McCrossin's Mill, Uralla).

Following the introduction of compulsory education a new wooden schoolroom was built in 1885, and this, with two additions, forms the present school building. A second teacher was appointed in 1903, with enrolments peaking at 155 in 1916. Since then Rocky River has been a two-teacher school, apart from a brief period in the 1960s when a third teacher was appointed.

Downstream, Kentucky Creek becomes Rocky River. The little township is about 4 km from Uralla (2o km from Armidale) on the Bundarra Road.

Today little remains, but this was gold rush territory.

Gold was discovered at Rocky River in 1851. In September 1856 the population reached 4,500. In that year, 1856, Rocky River produced 40,000 ounces of gold, worth around $32 million at today's gold prices. This provided sometimes rich pickings for miners, storekeepers and the bushranger Captain Thunderbolt.

In my first post in the Gwydir series I mentioned that Thunderbolt had been killed at Kentucky Creek. Northeast from this spot on the New England Highway can be found Thunderbolt's Rock where Thunderbolt is reported to have watched for the gold coaches

Production declined thereafter, so that by 1866 the population had declined to 700, the majority Chinese. At this field, as with many others in New England, the Chinese were a major presence. The photo shows the interior of the Chinese Joss House, now vanished, at Rocky River in 1908.

For those who would like to visit Rocky River, please visit nearby Uralla first for an introduction to the history of the area.

Introductory post. Last post. Next post.

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