Nelson Bay
© Copyright Mike Fernandes 2013
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The township of Nelson Bay is located on a bay of the same name on the southern shore of Port Stephens in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia. It lies about 60 kilometres (37 miles) by road north-east of Newcastle, its nearest rail link. Nelson Bay is a major tourism centre, particularly for dolphin and whale watching, surfing, diving, fishing and other recreational aquatic activities. Part of the eastern eastern section and almost the entire southeastern section of Nelson Bay lie within the Tomaree National Park. A number of streets have been named after ships of the Battle of the River Plate, the first naval battle of the second World War. These include Achilles St, Ajax Ave and Exeter Rd (now called Shoal Bay Rd). Nelson Head Lighthouse, built in 1875, stands on the northeast corner of Nelson Bay. History of Port Stephens The earliest inhabitants of Port Stephens were the Aborigines of the Worimi Tribe. At the time of white settlement there were about 400 Aborigines living around the estuary of Port Stephens. The tribe had only 50 members in 1873 and by 1900 there were very few tribal Aborigines left. There are numerous Aboriginal relic sites in the area, the most obvious being the Carved Trees at Little Beach. The exact location of most of the various sites which include stone arrangements, bora grounds, carved trees, middens and burial sites is restricted information. In May 1770 Captain James Cook referred to Port Stephens in his log as “an opening forming a bay” which was the first notation by Europeans. Henry Blackford was the first settler on the Tilligerry Peninsula which forms part of the southern shoreline of Port Stephens. He was part of the influx of immigrants who came by choice to Australia starting about 1800. Henry worked for the Australian Agricultural Company which had been given an entitlement to 1,000,000 acres of land on the north side of Port Stephens. Henry later successfully applied for a land grant and received an entitlement of 320 acres on the tip of the Tilligerry Peninsula in an area now known as Lemon Tree Passage. His attempts to grow wheat and raise cattle were unsuccessful. He moved his family to Bargo and was reasonably successful but after the recession, Henry and his family moved to Sydney in 1842.
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