Thursday, 13 September 2012

Laurieton -The showcase of Camden Haven Inlet

Joseph Laurie J.P. (1832–1904) had timber interests in the Laurieton area in partnership with his brothers Andrew and Alexander.  He moved to the area from Taree in 1872 and took charge of the Laurieton post office when it opened on 1 Oct 1875.  Until the opening of the post office the area was known as Peach Orchard  or Peach Grove (sources differ) and the name change recognised the Laurie family's local influence.

The Laurieton timber mill, owned by the Laurie Brothers and built on the river bank, officially opened on 12 January 1876  and a store was built opposite at the same time. The mill was operated initially by Joseph Laurie. Two years later a second timber mill was built by John Hibbard at Camden Haven Heads. However this mill was later moved to the Hastings River. Another mill, owned by John Rodger commenced operations soon after.

Joseph Laurie operated two ketches from Laurieton. The "Mary Laurie" was built at Laurieton and launched on 11 Nov 1884. The "Annie Laurie" was built at Brisbane Water.By 1886 Laurieton had 4 timber mills operating in the vicinity. There were 3 steam punts with 2 more being built and a bakery had recently been established.

Captain George De Fraine was trading to Camden Haven in his ketch "Ethel B.T." from about 1887 and later also operated a steam tug "Unique". In 1893 he entered into partnership with John Rodger.
William McKay & Hugh Bibby had leased and operated Joseph Laurie's sawmill from around 1880. When Joseph Laurie sold his interests to George De Fraine in about 1896, the mill was operated as a partnership of De Fraine, McKay and Bibby until 1899 when George De Fraine took full ownership. George De Fraine also acquired the lease for the mill built by Messrs.’ Dun and Bagan (later known as the Dun-Bagan mill) operating on land opposite Laurieton.

In 1891 the Lands Department proposed changing the name of Laurieton to Camden Haven (coinciding with the change of name of the former Camden Haven to Kendall). This was extremely unpopular with Laurieton residents and the name remained unchanged.The steamship "Hastings", sailing ship "Isabella de Fraine" and steamship "Cobar" were built at Laurieton between 1901 and 1903.

De Fraine oversaw his extensive business interests in the area until his death in 1907.

A Catalina seaplane carrying entertainer Bob Hope was forced to make an emergency landing on Camden Haven adjacent to Laurieton on August 14, 1944. Bob Hope was returning to Sydney after entertaining troops in Guam. The local postmaster lent him money for his hotel bills after the luggage was jettisoned. An impromptu party was held, and the next day Hope and his entourage travelled by road to Newcastle and flew from there to Sydney. Bob Hope maintained contact with the residents of Laurieton for decades afterwards.

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