Wauchope District Historical Society has been planning an extensive program of events to celebrate the journey taken by the John Oxley Exploration party in September and October 1818. Chrissy Jones chatted with Festival Co-ordinator Jeannette Rainbow about the expedition and the festivities of the month-long festival.
Describe John Oxley’s journey through the Hastings Valley back in 1818 …
The exploration started in May 1818 from Bathurst, following the Macquarie River to the impenetrable Macquarie Marshes. The explorers then turned east to the Castlereagh and Liverpool Plains. After reaching and naming the Peel River (near today’s Tamworth), they crossed the southern part of the New England Range near today’s Walcha, explored and named Apsley Falls and climbed Mount Seaview.
They could see a river which Oxley named Hastings and followed it through present day Wauchope, climbing Bago Mountain on the way to the river mouth, which he named Port Macquarie. The expedition reached Newcastle in November, six months after their departure.
Wauchope District Historial Society (WDHS) is commemorating the Bicentenary of the journey with a month-long festival; what events are there that the public can attend?
We have put together an exciting program of events, school visits, displays, campfire yarns, dances, a garden party and a specially written play by Kay Morrison – John Oxley’s Journey. Many will be free – the rest at cost recovery prices. Our whole aim has been to reach out to the whole Hastings Valley community, young and old, and offer something for everyone at no cost or at affordable prices. Most of the events will be staged precisely two hundred years to the day taken from the diaries. We invite everyone to share these community celebrations.
When do the festivities start?
Festivities will kick off on 21st September 2018 with the official opening at Mount Seaview, where 200 years ago, the Oxley party camped. Patrons will be invited to immerse themselves by enjoying talks of the expedition’s exploits as well as traversing some of the terrain with a 4WD trip to Jasper Range and Echo Point. Helicopter trips over Mount Seaview will also be on offer. WDHS member Rob Tickle’s eagerly awaited book – John Oxley, a new perspective – will also be launched.
Tell us more about the flagship event to be held at Mount Seaview Resort over the weekend 21st to 23rd September; what else can attendees expect?
They can immerse themselves in a weekend on the edge of the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, enjoy a 4WD trip to Jasper Range and Echo Point, hear enthusiasts show and tell of their experiences researching, retracing, re-imaging and writing of the challenges and accomplishments of Oxley and his team.
An official opening by Mayor Peta Pinson will commence proceedings during a buffet dinner on Friday 21st September, along with a book launch, John Oxley, a new perspective by Rob Tickle. Saturday will start with a buffet breakfast followed by the 4WD tour, then lunch in the Riverside Restaurant. Talks by Richard Grimmond, Dr Ian Telford and Daphne Salt will be conducted over the course of the day. After a three-course buffet dinner, attendees can kick back and enjoy campfire yarns.
What else is on the festival program?
A comprehensive program of school visits will be held through September and October, with presentations by Richard Grimmond, who has written several books on Oxley.
Major social events start with the Rotary Bush Dance on 15th September, the Community Family Dance on 29th September, the Governor’s Ball on 6th October and the Governor’s Garden party on 7th October.
Campfire yarns will be held at Mount Seaview on 22nd September, at the Long Flat Pub on 27th September and at Hollisdale Hall, Pappinbarra on 5th October.
Displays detailing the challenges and accomplishments of Oxley’s party will be on display at the Wauchope Library, as well as the Camden Haven Museum. The Bago Mountain 4WD excursion to the lookout on the top of Bago Mountain in Australian Wilderness Tours’ air-conditioned vehicles will be held on Wednesday 3rd October, departing at 8:30am from Wauchope Town Clock; precisely 200 years since Charles Fraser and John Oxley climbed Bago. Bookings are essential for the 4WD tour, the cost is $ 45 per person – phone Jeannette 0424 226 258 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In 1818, Oxley wrote: “October 3. Soon after daylight, accompanied by the botanist, I returned to the peaked hill, leaving the horses with Mr. Evans to proceed to the north-east. Certainly, a more beautiful and interesting view is not often seen.”
There is truly something for everyone. You can pick up a copy of the festival brochure at the Wauchope Library, so you can book early for any special events that you may wish to attend. I invite all to join us in commemorating the Bicentenary of the exploration of the Hastings Valley from Mount Seaview, following the Hastings River to Port Macquarie.
For a full festival program: www.visitwauchope.com.au