Our history

we’ve been here for generations

About Thou walla

Thou walla is a Worimi word that literally means “meeting or gathering place”. The Worimi are the traditional owners of this area of land and have lived in and around the area for centuries. Thou walla and its surrounds are declared an ‘Aboriginal Place’. Declaring an ‘Aboriginal Place’ is a way of recognising and legally protecting Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in New South Wales.

A little history

Soldiers Point was utilised by settlers, surveyors and sailors, arriving in the area between 1791 and 1821.

Captain William Cromarty acquired the land in 1822, which in turn led to joint use of Soldiers Point with an Army Garrison that was established prior to 1826. This was the period when the area was named ‘Soldiers Point’.

A Land grant/transfer in 1828 of a million acres of the domain of the Worimi Aboriginal people to the Australian Agricultural Company. This resulted in the Worimi continuing to live on Soldiers Point. The area was extensively logged.

The land was a reserve from at least 1861 until its residents were forcibly removed to the Aboriginal reserves at Karuah and Sandy Point in 1915.

The Commonwealth acquired Soldiers Point and adjacent land on 25 May 1916 and Port Stephens Council purchased the land from the Commonwealth of Australia on the 1 January 1955.

We ask for your respect

Local Aboriginal people have a strong spiritual and emotional attachment to the area. It is a place where Aboriginal families lived and where traditional knowledge and cultural life was sustained. The significance of Soldiers Point has accumulated over time and embraces the richness and diversity of Aboriginal life including the strong association with the marine environment and the history of the region. For many, Soldiers Point is a key to understanding the past.

Our environment

In order to demonstrate respect for the Worimi People and the cultural significance of the area, Thou walla’s new sunset camping area has been constructed in a very sensitive way.

We have not disturbed the surface of the area by anymore than 200mm at any stage of the project. Sunset camping tents are atop engineered floating decks (an Australian First) and all services (including water and electricity) have been managed above ground to Australian Standards.

As there was no existing sewerage line that ran through the area, self composting toilets were used in the tent ensuites.

The gardens in the sunset camp are predominated by endemic native species, many of which were propagated from local Soldiers Point seed stock.

Table of Significant Events

(Courtesy of NSW Office of Environment and Heritage)

Date Event Reference
1791 Convict ship Salamander enters the bay Dallas and Cowlishaw 1994:21
1795 W.R. Broughton of H.M.S Providence records four ex- convicts living with Worimi people Bartlett 1980:9
1796 Mr. Grimes fires on a Worimi person, reportedly killing the individual. Collins 1798:342 in Dallas and Cowlishaw 1994:21
1822 Land acquired by Captain William Cromarty. Port Stephens Council 1999:4
1822-1826 Joint use of Soldiers Point with Australian Army Port Stephens Council 1999:4
1828 Land Grant/transfer to Australian Agricultural Company (AAC). Gazettal does not preclude use of Soldiers Point by Worimi. Port Stephens Council 1999:4
1829 AAC establishes a sheep station on the Karuah River. Dallas and Cowlishaw 1994:22
1838/41 AAC reports to the Select Committees of the NSW Legislative Assemblies indicate a level of employment of Worimi people on the Station. Dallas and Cowlishaw 1994:22
1861 Soldiers Point known as a ‘Village Reserve’. Cowlishaw 1996:1 Dallas and Cowlishaw 1994:22
1873 Report by William Scott of a significant Worimi population decrease, approximately 50%, in the area.
1873 Report of permissive occupancy of 40 acres at Bagnalls Beach given to Willy Price. Dallas and Cowlishaw 1994:22
1880’s Reports of conflict between Worimi and timber cutters at Karuah. Dallas and Cowlishaw 1994:22
1885 King Billy Price taken to court after an assault on a man at Stockton, noted as “being of an unsound mind”. Newspaper Clipping 1885 provided by Viola Brown
1884 Karuah Mission/Aboriginal Reserve established. Dallas and Cowlishaw 1994:22
1896 Linguistic and ethnographic study of Worimi people at western Port Stephens (Karuah) by Enright. Records the people on the southern shoreline as Maiangal. Dallas and Cowlishaw 1994:28
July 1908 William Ridgeway declared King (known as King Billy) A.I.M December 1908.
October 1915 Notification of AR 51060 at Bagnalls Beach. 8th Edition shire of Tomaree Map (1931)
May 1916 Acquisition of Aboriginal Reserves by Commonwealth Government Port Stephens Council 1999:4
1919 William Ridgeway (King Billy) passes away A.I.M December 1919.