Early settlement of the Manning Valley was constrained somewhat by its isolation from Sydney. The topography and lack of viable roads made water transport the only practical means of travel for both passengers and freight.
In August 1891 the North Coast Steam Navigation Company was formed by the merger of the Clarence, Richmond and Macleay Rivers Steam Navigation Company and John See and Company.1 At the time of its formation John See, an astute businessman and politician, became a Managing Director and the company was said to employ some 500 people.2 A 1904 booklet shows its impressive headquarters in Sussex Street, Sydney.3
‘The Electra’ was a well known company ship. Having been custom built for the Northern Rivers trade in Scotland in 1887, she was reputedly the first ship working the Eastern Seaboard to be lit by electricity and to have a refrigerated cool room.4 Her arrival at the wharf near present day (2018) Fotheringham Park in Taree, was always eagerly anticipated.
With the coming of the railway to Taree in 1913, coastal trade diminished somewhat, but a regular service was maintained to Taree until 1941 when the Government was empowered to requisition vessels for wartime service.5 The company was voluntarily liquidated in 1954.6
Author: Penny Teerman
1 Evening News (Sydney) Friday 24 July 1891 Pg 4
2 The Struggle Against Isolation by John Ramsland 1987, Library of Australian History
3 The North Coast S N Co’s Guide to the Northern River Districts – State Library of NSW
4 Sydney Morning Herald Monday 26 September 1887 Pg 8 and http://flotilla-australia.com/ncsnc.htm
5 Northern Champion Wednesday 31 May 1950 Pg 1
6 NSW Government Gazette Friday 26 February 1954 (Issue No. 33) Pg 618