Mariaville
Kempsey Shire heritage

Mariaville was a village or was it?

The Maria River is a tributary of the Hastings River, first surveyed by Captain Francis Allman, Commandant of Port Macquarie from 1821-1824. The river was initially known as Maria’s River, commemorating either the sister or daughter of Captain Allman.

In 1826 a party from Port Macquarie under Captain Samuel Wright took a small boat to the head of navigation of Maria’s River and, under Aboriginal guidance, carried the boat north to what they named Wright’s River. This river was later renamed the Macleay River.

This route remained the basic route from Port Macquarie to the middle reaches of the Macleay and a boat harbour was established sometime after 1835 on the Maria at the head of navigation. By 1836 a constable’s hut had been built and a village to be called Mariaville laid out around the boat harbour and constable’s hut.

The village was not entirely unsuccessful. Three allotments between what was known as Harbour Street and Maria River were sold in 1838 to Atkinson, Keomey and Samuel Elyard, encouraged by the expedition of Commissioner Oakes who surveyed the Macleay River stations along the Mariaville route in 1837.

By 1841, an inn known as the Ship Inn had been built and the Port Maquarie magistrate urged the Colonial Secretary to grant the licence, since:

'…it was a neighbourhood much in want of such accommodation.’

A beer and wine licence was issued in 1841.

By 1870 Mariaville was commonly known as Boat Harbour.

The layout of the village, with its six streets, had never been much more than a surveyor’s projection, except along the river frontage, and was officially cancelled in May 1896 although an update of the map was sanctioned in 1895. The village reserve was cancelled in August 1921.

This did not mean that Mariaville disappeared. Until the 1930s the timber adjacent to the upper Maria River continued to be felled, dragged by bullocks to Mariaville and loaded on the paddle-wheel punts bound for Hibbard’s sawmill at Port Macquarie.

Information source: Ian Jack