Historic & Recent Photos

Woolgoolga, 1972 (© Greg Yeates)

Photos from the Woopi Whisperer

HERITAGE PHOTO (from Geoff Morrow) is an unusual aerial photo of Woolgoolga taken in the mid to late 1940s.  The jetty is visible and the township has taken shape along the lines we are familiar with today, with somewhat fewer houses, lots more vacant areas of land, few trees in the township area and virtually nothing to the west of the highway.

HERITAGE PHOTO shows Don Clinch’s pharmacy on River St which occupied the same building as the National Bank.  Lhs and rhs photos are before and after shop display windows had been added to the chemist shop part of the building.  The photo is from Neil Yeates book on Woolgoolga, compliments of Greg Yeates and was taken in 1952.

HERITAGE PHOTO is of William Toft Pullen & Charlotte Pullen (nee Hoy), pioneers of Woolgoolga.  The Pullens moved to Woolgoolga in the 1880s when William was already a successful businessman in his 50s (having made his first money from gold mining at Hill End).  They farmed as well as building the first substantial sugar and timber mills in town.  William also built the first smaller jetty (subsequently replaced by the long public jetty) and the first Hotel on River Street (on the current Seaview car park block).  William and Charlotte had 12 children, 10 of whom survived into adulthood.  One son, Edwin, managed the first store in Woolgoolga on the corner of Clarence and River Streets, opposite the current (2012) Seaview Tavern, which stands on the site of the Pullen’s Woolgoolga residence.

HERITAGE PHOTO shows a 1940s Beach Carnival on Woolgoolga Beach with the jetty visible in the background. The contestants were all male (despite the charming one piece bathing costumes!!). Note the absence of surf boards which had not yet caught on in a big way in Australia. That all changed in the 1950s with the advent of fibreglass boards instead of wooden ones. Some of the earliest wooden surf boards were introduced to Woolgoolga Beach by Clarence MP Alfred Pollack who brought them back from Hawaii for his family in the 1920s. Pollack Esplanade is named after Alfred who has descendants still living in Woopi.

HERITAGE PHOTO (Wendy Benson collection) shows William Stone standing beside a Qantas DH60G moth aircraft,  which Lester Brain, the company’s senior pilot,  landed on Woolgoolga Beach in about 1932 where it was tied to the jetty for its overnight stay!!

HERITAGE PHOTO was taken in the 1930s of a shark caught and hung on the jetty.  Note the boys’ outfits.  Interesting that they all had hats on way before we were conscious of sun damage and skin cancer!!  One hopes the boys’ descendants are still around and the sharks descendants are not so close to the surfing beach!

HERITAGE PHOTO: By the time Yeates wrote History of a Village, it was thought that the first car to visit Woolgoolga was the c1913 Daimler in the photo of Sea View Hotel taken in 1913 or first half of 1914.  A Dec 1906 article from Northern Star shows that one car was here much earlier: "Remarkable Motor Car Performance". Four months ago Mr. (Charles) Dorrough, (Lismore manager of  British Australian Timber Co) purchased in Brisbane a Russell motor car, 16 h.p. double cylinder, made .. in Canada .. he put the car at the disposal of the heads of this concern for their organising work of the timber industry of the North Coast. Since this time the car has been running constantly between Grafton, Newcastle (via Woolgoolga), Coff's Harbour, Kempsey, and the coast district …(It) has travelled over 8000 miles - a truly remarkable performance, considering the roads traversed, ..the timetable set out has always been adhered to under all conditions of weather. ... During the 8000 miles the car has never been delayed on the road more than a few minutes ..”  In the Russell, the trip from Woolgoolga to Newcastle took two days.

A 1908 Russell

The dramatic photo at bottom right (compliments of the Mather family via Geoff Morrow), shows the moment of removal of the last jetty posts  -  the final seconds of Woolgoolga’s famous jetty, originally 475 m long. Photo at top shows the impressive jetty from the air in the 1930s and the bottom left photo shows the last remaining section in 1960.

Who needs Melbourne? We used to have our own horse races!! On the beach yet! Picnic races were held  regularly on Woolgoolga Beach as the 1907 photo (top) and the more recent 1990s photo (bottom) show.

Photo (compliments of Geoff Morrow) shows members of the Morrow family taking a tea break.  The axes suggest Matilda Morrow had brought refreshments along (including a sizeable home- made loaf of bread) for the men working in the forest. The photo is dated 1911 and was taken towards Nana Glen area.

Woolgoolga was initially dependent on Bellingen and Grafton District ambulances and in the 1950s residents had to subscribe to both. Our first full-time ambulance station from 1967, was a rented house at 24 Nightingale St with a vehicle on loan from Coffs (photo from the Yeates collection).  The community had to raise the bulk of the funds to build and run its own permanent ambulance station (completed in 1972 in Queen St). 

In the days of bullock teams unloading timber at Woolgoolga jetty, “logging on” and “logging off” had an entirely different meaning to locals!! (photo taken near the jetty is reproduced from Jim Longworth, The Jetty and Sawmill Tramways of Woolgoolga, Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin Feb 2007).

Photo shows the Great Northern Timber Mill which was completed in 1914 and was located to the east of the Bowling Club where our Club meets.  The mill was described at one point as the largest hardwood timber mill outside of Sydney, so it was a big operation.  The company had its own tramlines to get the timber from the forests to the mill and then to the jetty for shipping. There are several newspaper reports of the day reporting on accidents and injuries incurred by workers at the mill—tough dangerous work.

The first Post Office was a money order office in 1892 in/beside  Pullen’s general store. In 1898, a dedicated PO was erected on the south corner of River & High Sts, replaced in 1911 by a building in Beach St which was still there in the 1950s as shown in the photo. A new PO was built in Beach St in 1975 and finally a move to Woolgoolga Plaza was in 1997.

HERITAGE PHOTO, to whet your appetite for all things historical, is of the Seaview Hotel c1914. Note observation tower. A hotel has been on or near the site since 1888 (scene of some wild “Woopi” times no doubt). 

HERITAGE PHOTO  is of Woolgoolga School in the 1920s, on much the same site as today.  In 1920 there were 86 students and their lives were tough in a coastal timber town.  Almost half of the pupils were noted as having injuries such as axe wounds or missing fingers and toes, not to mention near-drownings and injuries caused by bullocks, dogs or horses!

HERITAGE PHOTO (© Greg Yeates) Woolgoolga Theatre in 1972, when it was used as a movie theatre and leaned precariously against the old Seaview hotel building next door (locals say only small children could fit between the two).

Photo shows Woolgoolga in 1910 with a bullock team hauling timber along the street, a common sight in those days and for many decades afterwards.  Reliving the sights and sounds of a bygone era, a friend of mine in her 80s mentioned to me that she grew up in the hinterland not far from here and as a small child used to rush out to see a neighbour drive his bullock team past.  She knew all the bullocks’ names and one day announced to her mother that there seemed to be a new bullock on the team called “F….n”!!!.

Photo from Grafton Historical Society shows a boat being loaded with timber at the end of the Woolgoolga Jetty.  The government jetty was built in 1892 to replace an earlier shorter jetty that William Pullen had built  in 1887 for use by his sugar and timber mills. The new jetty extended more than 450 metres into the bay and was dismantled gradually from 1952 to 1961 after repeated storm damage made it unsafe.  Woolgoolga’s famous shipwreck, the “Buster”, had been moored at the end of this jetty in 1893 prior to slipping its moorings and being washed ashore where it lies buried.

If you were travelling in the 1930s you might have arrived in Woopi via the Tourist Coach, pictured compliments of Greg Yeates (from his father’s book on Woolgoolga).  The coach is parked in front of Waterhouse’s shop which was located on the corner of Beach and Queen Sts. Tea and scones were served to the travellers there.

Subjects of Geoff Morrow's historic photos

Geoff has many more photos on his computer.