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Wauchope, NSW

Town in hinterland behind Port Macquarie known as the "Heart of the Hastings"

Wauchope is a rural service centre which is affectionately referred to as 'the heart of the Hastings'. It is surrounded by national parks and state forests. Historically it was an important timber town (the district is reputedly the home of the country's largest blackbutt forest) and the surrounding rolling pastureland has given the town a reputation as an important dairy and cattle centre. For visitors the town's major attraction is the 35 ha Timbertown Pioneer Village which celebrates the district's 19th century timber origins.

Location

Wauchope is located on the Hastings River 374 km north of Sydney via the Pacific Highway. It lies 20 km west of Port Macquarie and is 9 metres above sea level.

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Origin of Name

In 1836 Captain Robert Andrew Wauch (he had been a Wauchope but he dropped 'ope' as a result of a family dispute) purchased 760 acres (307 ha) on King Creek. He called this property 'Wauchope' and it was on this property that the town developed.

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Things to See and Do

Timbertown Pioneer Village
Since it opened in 1976 the Timbertown Heritage Park, which is on the Oxley Highway on the western side of Wauchope has been the town premier tourist attraction. Pioneer Village has literally dozens of houses recreating an old timber town of the 1880s. The village and total location (which covers 35 hectares of forest) includes the Heritage Railway (one train ride is included in the price of admission); the Steam Sawmill which was bought by the village in 1977 after it had operated from 1943-1970; the Timbertown Bullock Team which provide daily demonstrations at 11.30 am - 2.00 pm; a Timbertown Colonial Furniture craftsman who has a small shop and makes commercial colonial furniture; a heritage playground for children; a Heritage Livery Stables which provides an authentic horse-drawn carriage tour around the site; a working blacksmith; a winery with a cellar door; and a saddlery. It is open daily from 9.30 am to 4.00 pm, tel: (02) 6586 1940 or check out http://www.timbertown.com.au.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Billabong Zoo
Located on the Oxley Highway between Port Macquarie and Wauchope at 66 Billabong Drive, the Billabong Zoo has achieved international fame for its Koala Breeding Centre and its keeper presentations. During the course of the day the keepers present audiences with Penguins (10.00 am); Koalas (10.30 am), Monkeys (11.00 am); Meerkats (11.20 am), Dingoes (11.30 am), Snow Leopards (noon), Crocodiles (12.30 pm), Koalas (1.30 pm), Reptile Show on weekends (2.00 pm), Red Pandas (2.30 pm), Cheetahs (3.00pm), Koalas (3.30 pm), Monkeys (4.00 pm), Snow Leopards (4.15 pm). It is also possible to have one on one contact with red pandas, koalas, snow leopards, penguins, meerkats and snakes. For more information check out http://www.billabongkoala.com.au or tel: (02) 6585 1060. The zoo is open every day from 9.00 am - 5.00 pm.

State Forests and National Parks
The Visit Wauchope website (see http://www.visitwauchope.com.au/page-1509031) lists four state forests and four national parks in the area surrounding Wauchope. The easiest and most accessible include:
Bellangry State Forest
Number 1 Tower Picnic Area and Lookout
Located about 30 minutes from Wauchope (leave town on the Pembroke Road, turn into Beechwood Road, right again into Bellangry Road which becomes Hastings Forest Road) this superb lookout, which was once the location of the Bellangry Number 1 Fire Tower, offers panoramic views of the Wilson River and across the forests to the coast. Check out http://www.portmacquarieinfo.com.au/explore/location.aspx?cid=30&id=181 for more information.

Mount Boss State Forest
Wild Bull Campground
Located in the Mount Boss State Forest 46 km northwest of Wauchope is the Wild Bull Camping Area which has camping, picnic and barbecue facilities and a deep waterhole which is ideal for a summer swim. The Bluff Picnic Area, a further 1.4 kms down the river, is a secluded picnic area with a huge rock formation covered in grass trees on the opposite side of the river.

Werrikimbe National Park
Werrikimbe National Park can be accessed via the Forbes River Rd which heads north off the Oxley Highway, 49 km west of Wauchope. Part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area, it includes ancient rainforest, tall eucalypt forests, pristine rivers, cascading waterfalls, rugged escarpment and deep gullies. In spring, the forests and heathland burst with colourful wildflowers.
Take the Hastings Forest Way through Bellangry and you can reach
(a) Grass Tree Picnic Area - overlooks a small waterfall. It is particularly attractive in late spring and early summer when the wildflowers are in bloom. The walking track links up with Brushy Mountain Rest Area
(b) Brushy Mountain Rest Area offers panoramic views towards the coast and the Macleay River Valley. The bird life is abundant and there is drinking water available from a mountain stream.
The park is 35 000 hectares and is designed to preserve temperate and sub-tropical rainforests as well as a number of rare plant and animal species including the Downy Guinea Flower, the Pygmy Cypress and the Filmy King Fern. The park is also the habitat over 120 bird species. It is possible to see lyrebirds in the rainforest, as well as eastern yellow robins and rufous fantails. Rare bird species in the area include olive whistlers, rufous scrub-birds and sooty owls. Check out
http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/NationalParks/parkHome.aspx?id=N0042.

Willi Willi National Park
Willi Willi National Park is an extensive mountain wilderness on a spectacular section of the Great Dividing Range. The park protects some of the best subtropical and warm temperate rainforests in Australia. The landscape is typically characterised by deeply dissected forest-lined valleys and lush groundcover.
Located on the southern edge of the Willi Willi National Park (leave Wauchope heading towards Beechwood, turn into Bellangry Road, turn into Hastings Forest Way and then turn into Wilson River Road) is the glorious Wilson River Reserve. There are three walks from the car park: (1) the Botanic Walk which is a gentle 300 metre loop (2) the Palm Grove Walk which is an easy 1 km walk from the car park through blue gums and green ferns to the Wilson River and (3) the Waterfall Walk, a 3.5 km walk through sub-tropical and warm temperate rainforrest to the waterfall and pool.
This diverse park offers protected species of plants, birds and animals as well as a beautiful, thriving rainforest environment. It is recognised as one of the most beautiful national parks in New South Wales. For more detailed information check out http://www.portmacquarieinfo.com.au/explore/location.aspx?cid=30&id=198 or http://www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/willi-willi-national-park.

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History

* The Biripi Aborigines had been living in this heavily-timbered land for tens of thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans.

* Surveyor John Oxley passed through the area in 1818. He named Mount Seaview because he could see the sea and the Hastings River after Lord Warren Hasting, Governor of India.

* By 1820 cedar was being exploited by timber cutters in the district.

* In 1821 Governor Lachlan Macquarie established a penal colony at Port Macquarie.

* By 1826 there were experiments with sugar cane along the banks of the Hastings River.

* In 1828 a number of land grants were made along the Hastings River but

* In 1836 767 acres were granted to Captain Robert Andrew Wauch on the King River. Wauch built Wauchope house and  the village of Wauchope came into existence on his land.

* Droughts and floods in the 1840s led to many local farmers being forced from their lands. Captain Wauch was ruined as a result of these economic hard times.

* A school was opened in 1868.

* By 1880 a government wharf had been built near Wauchope. It was used to ship timber and agricultural products from Wauchope to Port Macquarie where they were shipped on to Sydney.

* Blocks of land went on sale in the village in 1882. They were sold for £30.

* The Ennis post office was moved to the Wauchope general store on 7 May 1883.

* By 1892 there were sawmills and a butter factory in the town.

* The Court House was built in 1902.

* The arrival of the North Coast railway in 1915 saw the town continue to grow.

* In the 1920s large tracts of forest around the town was sold to the Forestry Commission.

* In the 1950s the town and surrounding district had 36 licensed timber mills.

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Visitor Information

Wauchope does not have its own Visitor Centre. All queries should be directed to the Greater Port Macquarie Visitor Information Centre, tel: 1300 303 155 or (02) 6581 8000.

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Useful Websites

The website - http://www.visitwauchope.com.au - is useful particularly for accommodation and eating.

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