Austral Eden
Kempsey Shire heritage

Austral Eden was established by Colonial Architect John Verge after he had obtained a land grant of 2,400 acres on the Macleay River.

Verge had earlier been successful with a land grant, under the 1827 regulations, on the Williams River and had demonstrated that he had sufficient capital to develop the property. In 1837 an order appeared in the Government Gazette for additional grants. These grants were to be given to settlers who had spent five times the amount of the estimated value on the first grant having sufficient capital to develop a further grant of land.

Verge lodged an application showing he had spent seven times the original value of his first grant under his son’s management and after close examination of his claim he was given four months to select another grant of four square miles. It is not surprising that he took up a selection on the Macleay as it was seen as choice down river country at the junction of Darkwater Creek and the Macleay River which was thickly timbered with valuable cedar.

Austral Eden’s early settlers were immigrants who had rural farming backgrounds and by the end of the 1870s had been transformed into a well organised rural enterprise of small tenant farmers.

Amongst the early settlers of Austral Eden were two brothers George and Peter Notley and their sister Mary who in 1859 found themselves in Austral Eden after responding to a newspaper advertisement for tenancies. They were typical single immigrants who married in the colony and responded to advertisements offering them a chance to become small landholders.

Austral Eden Hall (undated)
Austral Eden Hall (undated)

Photos: Courtesy of the Macleay River Historical Society
Sources: Macleay River Historical Society, and Tenant Farmers of Austral Eden - a thesis by Lorraine Stacker, UNE, 1998