A Brief Expedition to Ulong, NSW Australia

A Brief Expedition to Ulong, NSW Australia

Maggie and I are part of a “Meet and Greet” group. A couple from that group, Rhonda and Ian, invited those of us who could make it, to stay in Ulong for a few days at Rhonda’s sister’s place.

First night candle light dinner with the group, Rhonda & Ian’s Daughter Samantha, Rhonda, Paula, Ian, Nicky, Chris, Maggie, Trish & Irene.
Our Caravan parked in front of the house

Ulong is a small village located on the East Dorrigo Plateau approximately 35 kilometres inland from Coffs Harbour. However, towing our caravan took us approximately 1 hour to drive the mostly narrow, winding road.

Facilities at Ulong are: a community hall (with camping spaces beside it), a football oval, a public school and a general store/cafe/post office/Centrelink Agency. The 2016 census quotes the population as 233.

East Doriggo Community Hall, with camping facilities on far side and football oval to right of photo
Entrance to Ulong Infants and Primary School

As a group we had two meals at the Ulong Cafe/General Store. The food was delicious and the service exceptional.

Ulong also has an Ex-Services Club and a Community Church.

Good food and service at the Ex-Services Club. And the Saturday night 4 piece band had us moving to the beat all night

On a walk towards the Community Church we passed the old church, now a private residence (painted blue), where our friends Rhonda and Ian were married just a “few” years ago.

As we walked I took photos of any scene I found attractive.

Ulong and the surrounding villages were created by early 20th century pioneers. Rhonda’s great grandfather Thomas Timms (senior), her grandfather Thomas Bertram Timms (junior) and her father Lionel Edwin Hammond Timms were three of those pioneers.

Timms Park on both sides of Ulong Creek – Land donated by Lionel Timms and naming bestowed by Council after his passing
Lionel Timms Bridge over Ulong Creek – Road leads to Timmsvale

During our stay we attended a celebration of the regions history, held in the East Dorrigo Community Hall in Ulong. This included the screening of a 2006 film, tracing the origins of logging and the transportation of timber by bullock teams and later by trucks and steam trains.

One of the very early pioneers to purchase land on The Eastern Dorrigo Plateau was a farmer from Albion Park (NSW South Coast) named Thomas Timms (senior)(Rhonda’s great grandfather). In 1907 he, with his son Thomas (junior), made short trips to the recently purchased property (now called Timmsvale) to clear the bush and build a hut prior to moving there permanently. Once cleared Timms to the property to established a dairy farm, while others started felling and milling timber to cater for the developing community need for construction materials in the region and beyond.

It seems Thomas Timms (junior) was the first of the Timms family to become involved in the growing timber industry, after the passing of his father in 1917. Without prior knowledge of hydro electrics, Thomas decided to build a saw mill powered by hydro electricity, having seen one in operation at Dorrigo. He had the timber and the water source (the Little Nymboida River), but he needed advice and plant. Thomas consulted with Armstrong Whitworth Ltd (England), purchased one of their turbines, built all of the necessary infrastructure himself (Including a dam) and opened his hydro electric saw mill in 1920.

In all, Thomas Timms (junior) went on to own six saw mills, one of which was this mill in Ulong (see photo below). It commenced as a steam driven mill and was later converted to electric power.

In 1962 Lionel Timms acquired this Ulong mill from his father, Thomas (junior).

Thomas Timms (Junior) also built the first school at Timmsvale in 1925.

It may be difficult to believe, but during the early to mid 20th century Ulong, Timmsvale and the surrounding settlements of the Eastern Dorrigo Plateau housed a larger population than that of Coffs Harbour (now around 79,0000), due to the success of the timber industry in the region.

Of course the “timber train” ran through Ulong. This Glenreagh to Dorrigo railway was apparently the most expensive ever built in NSW, mainly due to the steep grades. Construction commenced in 1914 and was completed by 1924. The line was 43 miles in length. With the demise of the timber industry, it was closed in October 1972.

And there was a large cinema in town, built by Lionel Timms and his brother Dudley.

Sad to see the old cinema in this condition

One of the other highlights of our visit was the walk to Timmsvale and a lot of historical information from Ian along the way.

Ulong Creek Waterfall
A “photo Op” on Timms Bridge to start the journey

As you might expect, some of the rural properties alongside the road to Timmsvale belong to one or another of the Timms family. Beef cattle is the main livelihood now.

Timmsvale in the distance
Timmsvale Community Hall
A Timmsvale resident invited us in for a brief rest

Maggie and I are pleased we could visit Ulong with the “Meet and Greet Group”. Thanks must go to our hosts Ian and Rhonda and also a big thanks to Rhonda’s sister Angie, for allowing us all to stay on her property and in her house.

Credit to Mrs Jess Bell for information provided in her self published book “A Pioneer and The Eastern Dorrigo” (Dedicated to her father Thomas Bertram Timms).

  • Rodger Jamieson
    Posted at 12:44h, 03 February Reply

    Beautiful spot Al and good to see the history

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 16:09h, 03 February Reply

      Thanks for you comment Rodger. Ulong and the Eastern Dorrigo Plateau is certainly worth a visit.

  • Leighton T
    Posted at 21:43h, 05 February Reply

    Excellent photos (as usual) Al; and a very interesting story-line. Thank you.

    • alistairstravel
      Posted at 08:23h, 07 February Reply

      Thank you for your comment Leighton. It is helpful to know your response to my photo blogs.

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