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Kincumber, NSW

Popular holiday and retirement destination on the waterways of the Central Coast.

In the heavily populated area which lies between Brisbane Water and the coastal townships of Copacabana and MacMasters Beach lie a number of small villages including Kincumber, Saratoga, Davistown, Empire Bay, St Huberts Island, Hardy's Bay, Pretty Beach, Killcare, Wagstaffe as well as excellent wilderness parks and reserves, notably Bouddi National Park, Rileys Island Nature Reserve and Kincumba Mountain Reserve. In the past sixty years the area has become populated by retirees and people who want to escape from Sydney. Fortunately it is still sufficiently large that, with a little careful searching a visitor can find a quiet beach or stretch of water. It is very beautiful and very peaceful.


Kincumber is located 86 km north of Sydney via the Pacific Motorway, the Central Coast Highway and Avoca Drive.


Origin of Name

It is claimed that in the language of the local Guringai people the word "kincumba" probably meant "towards the dawn" or "towards the rising sun" and was used to describe the view from Kincumba Mountain. There is also a suggestion that it meant "old man".


Things to See and Do

St Paul's Anglican Church
St Paul's Anglican Church, costing £636, was erected between 1841 and 1847 on three acres of the village reserve allotted to the Church of England. In this period churches were funded by public subscription which the government matched pound for pound. In the porchway is the gravestone of James Dunlop, the superintendent of the government observatory at Parramatta (he was Australia's first official astronomer) who discovered a comet in 1833. He retired because of ill health in 1847 and died at Kincumber the next year. His grave is in the cemetery, along with those of other European pioneers. Other notables buried in the cemetery include the artist Sir Russell Drysdale; the family of William Davis, the first schoolteacher in the area; and Master Mariner Jonathan Piper. This small church with its ivy-clad walls is located by the roundabout where Avoca Drive and Empire Bay Drive meet. There is a very detailed history at http://kincumberanglican.com/history.php.

Holy Cross Catholic Church
The Holy Cross Catholic Church is the oldest church in the area and one of the oldest Catholic Churches in Australia. It was built in 1842 on land donated by Thomas Humphrey. William Pickett supplied the sandstone from his adjoining property. Both are buried beside the church along with other European pioneers. The church has a Tudor facade with ornamental battlements. Also in the grounds is the old Kincumber Orphanage which operated between 1887 and 1976. It is now known as St Joseph's Spirituality and Education Centre. Australia's only saint, Mary McKillop, is known to have worshipped at the church and she and the Sisters of St Joseph were responsible for establishing a Home for Boys which operated at the site from 1887-1966. There is a museum at the site which includes material relating to Mary McKillop. It is located at 8 Humphreys Road, Kincumber South, tel: (02) 4368 2805, check out http://www.stjosephskincumber.org.au.

Kincumba Mountain Reserve
Located off Island View Drive which leads to a large clearing and picnic area at Honeyman's Rock, Kincumba Mountain Reserve is a major attraction in the Kincumber area. It consists of 700 ha of rugged mountainous terrain which includes one of the largest undisturbed rainforests on the Central Coast. The reserve is 200 m above sea-level at its highest point with picnic-barbecue sites. There are caves, rock formations, palm groves, wildflowers, historic Aboriginal carvings and axe-grinding grooves. There is an outstanding website created by Wild Walks (http://www.wildwalks.com/bushwalking-and-hiking-in-nsw/kincumba-mountain) which provides maps and detailed descriptions of eleven walks on the mountain ranging from short, easy tracks to longer and harder tracks. The kind of detail provided includes time, distance, elevation, degree of difficulty and a very clear description. Thus, for example, the Kanning Cave Walk is described as "This short walk follows a clear track to a large sandstone cave on the Kanning Walk. From the Honeyman’s Picnic Area, follow Kanning Walk through the bush and along the side of a long rock wall. There are several caves along the way, the main one being quiet, large and tucked behind some large boulders. The cave provides a cool spot on hot days. After admiring the cave, walk back the same way, passing some large angophora trees." It takes around 20 minutes, is 922 metres return, rises 34 metres and is defined as an easy track. You could not ask for more information. The other tracks in the reserve include the Kanning Walk (easy, 1.3 km circuit, 30 minutes); the Warri Warri Track (hard, 1.5 km one way, 45 minutes); the Warriwarri Lookout walk (easy, 1.5 km return, 30 minutes); Glasson's Trail (moderate, 1.7 km one way, 1 hour); Sandringham Track (hard, 2.2 km return, 75 minutes); Sandringham Circuit (hard, 2.9 km, 90 minutes); Yanina Walk (easy, 3.2 km, 75 minutes); Sid Pulsford Walk (hard, 4.1 km one way, 1 hour 45 minutes)  and the Kincumber to Terrigal (hard, 4.5 km one way, 2 hours).

Gallery 460 and Sculpture Park
About 750 metres west of Kincumber on Avoca Drive is Gallery 460 and Sculpture Park. This complex is reputedly the largest outdoor gallery in Australia representing major Australian sculptors for corporate and private collectors. The indoor exhibiting galleries specialise in early Australian, Modern, Contemporary and Aboriginal Art. It is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10.00am - 4.00pm daily, contact (02) 4369 2111.


Other Attractions in the Area

Driving and Mooching
The district around Kincumber is a suburban area now but it is still worth a quiet drive through the small settlements of Saratoga, Davistown (there is a delightful walk beside Brisbane Water), St Huberts Island, Empire Bay, and Copacabana. Of particular interest are:

Davistown is a quiet and sleepy residential area. There are three boat ramps located in Amy Street facing into Kincumber Broadwater; Lintern Street fronting Lintern Channel; and Restella Avenue adjacent to the Cockle Channel. There is pleasant parkland between the houses and the water which makes for ideal and leisurely walking.

St Hubert's Island
Just before The Rip Bridge is a bridge which drops sharply down to St Huberts Island, which was once a mangrove island owned by The Reverend Cornelius Coughlan who was associated with Holy Cross Church between 1843 and 1847. It is now a residential area which has been developed into an upmarket canal marina. Of particular interest is a simple sandstone obelisk with a Bicentennial plaque recalling that "This plaque was laid on 3rd March 1988 to commemorate the landing in this vicinity of Gov. Phillip, Lieut. Hunter and their party on 3 March 1788." and there is an extract from a diary stating "Tuesday 4th While the tents and clothes were drying ... a crab was caught and proved very good. AM at day light proceeded up ... we found natives all the way up." Lieut. Wm Bradley, March 1788.

On the ocean side beyond Brisbane Water is the quiet beach at Copacabana which is edged to the south by Cochrone Lagoon and MacMasters Beach before it becomes the impressive Bouddi National Park. Copacabana was first settled by Europeans when Robert Campbell acquired 600 acres. He was followed by John Tooth. It wasn't until 1954 that Copacabana was created as a subdivision by North Coast Realty Pty Ltd. The beachfront blocks of land were sold for £65. The developers named the area after Rio de Janiero's Copacabana Beach in Brazil. It is known as a good place for whale watching when the whales are heading north between May and August and returning down the coast in October and November. Most of the whales are humpbacks but there are also pilot whales, minke whales and southern right whales. At the southern end of the beach is Cochrone Lagoon, an intermittently closed and open lagoon which is periodically cut off from the sea. It is a wonderland for birds. The visitor can see black swans, Pacific black ducks, Pacific or White-Necked herons, White-faced herons, Little pied cormorants, Great Egrets, Sacred Ibis and Purple Swamphens.

Bouddi National Park
The Bouddi National Park covers over 1500 ha. It is the northern part of the Sydney Geological Basin and, at certain points, offers such an amazing panorama that visitors and walkers can see Lion Island and Pittwater in the foreground and, on the horizon, the high rise of Sydney's central business district. The area is a tour de force of cliff top walks, beautiful and peaceful beaches and a rich Aboriginal heritage. To the visitor it offers fishing (although a marine extension has been declared from Bombi Point to Gerrin Point within which all marine life is protected), surfing, sunbathing, swimming, excellent bushwalks, panoramic lookouts, and beautiful, tranquil, secluded bays and beaches backed by wet sclerophyll forest, grasslands, swamps, heathlands and densely-canopied rainforests. The park is home to gliders, possums, echidnae, bandicoots, bush rats, marsupial mice, owls, scrub turkeys, lyrebirds, bowerbirds and white-breasted sea eagles.
There are large and ancient sand dunes (90-100 m above sea-level) at Bombi Point (known to Captain Cook as Third Point) and Mourawaring Moors (Second Point), in the northern section of the park. There are camping-picnic areas at Little Beach, Putty Beach and Tallow Beach. Bookings can be made on (02) 4320 4203. There is an excellent brochure, complete with a detailed map, which can be downloaded as a PDF from http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/visit-a-park/parks/Bouddi-National-Park/Visitor-Info.

The Walks
There are a total of eleven walks in Bouddi ranging from the Bouddi Coastal Walk (8 km one way, medium difficulty and dramatically picturesque) through Daleys Point Walking Track (3.4 km return, easy and reaching the Daleys Point Aboriginal engraving site after enjoying panoramic views along the way) to the Bullimah Spur Track (2 km return, easy and with views south to Sydney's CBD). They are all described in considerable detail on the downloadable PDF available at http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/~/media/visitor/files/PDF/Brochures/bouddi-pdf.aspx. There is also a visitor centre, the Maitland Bay Information Centre on The Scenic Drive above Maitland Bay. For general enquiries contact 1300 361 967.

A. The Major Attractions
(1) Hawke Head Drive and Lookout
The south-western end of the park can be accessed via Hawke Head Drive which heads to the Tallow Beach car park. It offers some breathtaking views down over Putty and Tallow Beaches, out into the ocean, and south to Barrenjoey Head and its lighthouse. Walking trails head off from the car park down to Tallow Beach and through dense scrub to the lookout near Box Head, the southernmost tip of the peninsula.

(2) Maitland Bay
There is the Maitland Bay Information Centre on the right-hand side of the road. It is from here that the walk begins to Maitland Bay (a spur track heads off to Bullimah Lookout). The bay has a sense of seclusion and privacy. It is deeply recessed behind Bouddi Point and protected from the rear by the very steep rock face which adds to the sense of enclosure. The beach is beautiful and so is the surrounding bushland. Maitland Bay was originally known to Europeans as Boat Harbour. In 1898 the 880-ton paddle steamer Maitland, seeking shelter in Broken Bay from gale-force winds, became swamped with water from the swells, drifted during the night, hit submerged rocks off Bouddi Point, became wedged on a rock ledge and began to break up. 27 died in the attempts to reach the beach. Remnants of the vessel can still be seen.

(3) Little Beach
Mt Bouddi Road leads to a picnic area and a walking track which reaches an excellent lookout at Mt Bouddi. This track also leads down to Maitland Bay and north-east to Little Beach, which is well named, being located within a very small and rocky bay. It is a popular yet secluded surfing, picnic and camping spot.

(4) Daleys Point Aboriginal Site
Another major drawcard is Daleys Point Aboriginal Site. Access is via a gravel road opposite the intersection of Maitland Bay Drive and Wards Hill Road. Follow this road for 2-3 km. Go straight ahead when the road bends to the right and it will lead to a car park where you can see a rock shelf marked with engravings. Below the outcrop is a shelter where drawings and stencils can be found.



* Prior to the arrival of Europeans the Guringai Aborigines occupied the land from the Hawkesbury River in the south to Lake Macquarie in the north.

* Governor Arthur Phillip and a party of officers and seamen entered Broken Bay in a whaleboat in 1788. They passed Lion Island at the mouth of Brisbane Water and sheltered from heavy rains behind the rocky headland of Green Point. Phillip observed "the land is much higher than at Port Jackson, more rocky and equally covered with timber; large trees which grow on the summits of mountains".

* Phillip returned later in 1788 and in 1789, passed the area and headed up the Hawkesbury River.

* European settlement began in the 1820s. It was renamed Brisbane Water after the then-governor of New South Wales.

* The first settlers were timber cutters eager to exploit the stands of cedar, forest oak, blue gum and other hardwoods. Boat building also began at this time and continued until World War I.

* The first person to receive a land grant was boat builder James Webb who, in 1823, took up 120 ha on the western side of Brisbane Water at what is now southern Woy Woy.

* By 1826 other grants were soon promised on the eastern shore, particularly around the Kincumber Broadwater. Small settlers took up land on the ocean shores, growing maize, onions, potatoes and hay.

* The first reference to Kincumber occurs in 1829 when the local creek is referred to as King Coimba Creek.

* By the late 1820s Henry Gunsley Watson had purchased to pieces of Crown Land at Kincumber Creek.

* In 1829 60 acres was granted to Joseph Spears who worked as a sawyer.

* By the early 1830s the number of European settlers in the area was sufficient to warrant the reservation of land for the village of Kincumber.

* By the late 1830s Henry Gunsley Watson had five convicts working for him.

* By 1841 there were seven families living at what was known as Cockle Creek.

* Construction of the Holy Cross Church at South Kincumber began in the early 1840s. It was completed in 1844.

* Between 1844-1879 the shipbuilder, Jonathan Piper, built 24 vessels, mostly ketches and a few schooners.

* By 1849 St Paul's Church of England had been completed.

* In the 1850s a complete land survey was carried out and growth occurred around Kincumber Creek.

* In 1874 the public school was opened with a Mr D Eden as the teacher.

* Kincumber was proclaimed a village in 1885.

* The population was 293 people in 1891.

* The town's post office was opened in 1901.

* In 1905 the town got its first telephone.

* The last ship was built in the area in 1906 by George Frost. It was called the SS Rock Lily.

* The town's war memorial was unveiled in 1919.

* Kincumber Growers' Co-operative Company Ltd was formed in July, 1921.

* The first ferry service was launched in October, 1921.

* By 1928 Kincumber was serviced by a regular bus service to Gosford and a ferry to Woy Woy.

* Electricity reached the area in the 1940s.

* The Rip Bridge opened in 1974 making transport from Woy Woy much easier.

* By 1976 the population had only increased to 493 people.

* By 1982 Kincumber had become a mecca for retirees.

* Kincumber Sewerage Works opened in 1983.


Visitor Information

Kincumber does not have its own Visitor Centre. The nearest is Gosford Visitors Centre, 200 Mann Street, Gosford, tel: (02) 4343 4444 is open from 9.30 am - 4.00 pm Monday to Friday and Saturday 9.30 am - 1.00 pm. and for information about Bouddi National Park there is the Maitland Bay Information Centre,The Scenic Drive above Maitland Bay. tel: 1300 361 967.


Useful Websites

There is a community website at Kincumber - http://www.kincumber.nsw.au - but for travellers the most useful is http://www.gosford.nsw.gov.au/library/local_history/Suburbs/documents/kincumber.html, the Gosford City Council site which offers a detailed history of the area with some fascinating historic photos.

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  • You forgot to mention the van Grafhorst family and how they were forced out of town by your citizens when their daughter Eve contracted HIV after a blood transfusion.

    RIP Eve