Colonial History of the Wollombi Valley


By the 1870’s, fifty years after first white settlement in the Hunter Valley, the township of Wollombi had a court, police force, two churches, a school with nearly 100 pupils, several inns, two general stores, a butcher, a blacksmith, a wagon builder and a harness maker. Want to know more about the history of Wollombi?

To learn more about the history of the Wollombi Valley, why not visit the Endeavour Museum in the village?

Mulla Villa

This two-storey Georgian house was convict-built in 1840-41 for David Dunlop, the first magistrate for the police district of Wollombi and the MacDonald River (1839-1847). David Dunlop and his wife Eliza were both interested in Aboriginal culture and welfare. David understood their obligations to tribal matters and advocated allowing them to return to their tribes when a particular job was finished. Eliza also offended some contemporaries with her displays of sympathy for indigenous ways though the Reverend Threlkeld was a supporter. Both David and Eliza are buried in the Church of England section of the Wollombi cemetery.

Directions: About 1km from Wollombi, towards Laguna.

Laguna Feed Shed

As a reward for his 1825 survey of the Great North Road, Heneage Finch was granted 1000 acres of land which he selected in 1827 on the line of road near Wollombi. He named the property “Laguna”. In 1834 he sold “Laguna” to Richard Wiseman. The Feed shed and a corn barn were built slightly later than the convict period, possibly by Richard Wiseman, they are of typical 19th Century construction with mortised and dowelled joints and extensive use of round bush timber. They are rare early farm buildings, the two story Feed Shed was conserved in 2000. The Corn Barn was modified in 2002.

Directions: These are privately owned buildings, but can be viewed 9.9 km south of Wollombi Tavern in Laguna.

St Michael’s Catholic Church

Saint Michael’s Church was built in the 1840s near Cunneens Bridge and moved, in 1891, to its present position in the heart of the Village. Saint Michael’s was bought by the community in 1991 and is now a private Catholic chapel and welcomes Catholic, Denominational and civil ceremonies. It is a perfect choice for an intimate and memorable wedding in a country setting. Mass is celebrated at 6pm on the 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month.

Directions: In Wollombi village, opposite General Store.

St John’s Anglican Church

Designed by Edmund Blacket, one of the last of the great church architects in Australia. The church is a sandstone building in the Gothic tradition: lofty and of good proportions. Consecrated by Bishop Tyrrell, first Bishop of Newcastle, in 1849, it stands in delightful grounds and features glorious stained glass interiors. It has aged and mellowed during 153 years.

Directions: In Wollombi village, on the road to Broke.

St Mark’s Anglican Church

St Mark’s was consecrated in 1884. A large, well-designed church, it features panelled reredos and wall tablets showing the Creed, Lord’s Prayer and Commandments. Local cedar is much in evidence in the interior of this lovely old church.

Directions: Near the junction of Watagan Creek Road and Great North Road, Laguna.

Wollombi Cemetery

Consecrated in 1849 by Bishop Tyrrell, many pioneers of the district are buried here. Behind the cemetery is the mill pond. A flour mill here was used to grind the wheat which was grown in the district. From this spot can also be seen the twin-gabled roof of “Wollombi House”. For many years Dr Bapty and his family lived here (it is now a private house).

Directions: Short walk north from Wollombi village, towards Cessnock.

Wollombi Cottage

Built in about 1840 as a residence and office of the Clerk of Petty Sessions, the building was restored during the 1970s. Remnants of the original cottage were identified and are still evident, including the old kitchen wall covering and an amazing barn.This building is currently home to retail shops.

Directions: In Wollombi village, opposite the General Store.

Wollombi Courthouse

Constructed in 1866, the historic stone courthouse now houses the Endeavour Museum. It was designed by Mortimer Lewis and replaced a slab lock-up which apparently “leaked prisoners like a sieve”. A modest building, it has a hipped roof with gables and a front verandah.

Directions: In Wollombi village, on the corner of Wollombi and Broke Roads.