Park retains the history of pioneers

7th December 2017 6:00 AM
PIONEER PARK: Museum staff Debbie Campbell, Terrie Beckhouse and Cath Fogarty with volunteer research Geoff Watts. PIONEER PARK: Museum staff Debbie Campbell, Terrie Beckhouse and Cath Fogarty with volunteer research Geoff Watts. Raymond Mather

PANELS telling the stories of a number of Coffs Harbour's early European settlers have been installed as the final touches to the park area alongside the Duke St extension road.

The space, known as Pioneer Park, contains park benches and seating, new planting and the six interpretive panels on local history.

The decorative panels tell the stories of Peter Moller, the first person to select land in Coffs Harbour, squatter John Carrall, the first school teacher Miss Ida Archibald and Robert Bray, the first grocer.

Extensive work by local volunteer researcher Geoff Watts uncovered some truly remarkable stories of these early settlers.

"John Carrall was a squatter with no tenure to the land and to overcome this he took out a mining licence on the site which meant that he had to fossick for gold at least once a year,” said Catherine Fogarty, Council's Cultural Development, Gallery and History Services Coordinator.

"This he did, by digging a shovel full of dirt and panning it in the nearby stream which was later named after him. Legend has it that this ritual later became a real picnic affair for family and friends.

"The stories that Geoff has uncovered give us a glimpse into what life was like in the area for early European settlers.

The original Pioneer Park tallowwood bench seating and sign are now in the garden of the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum on Harbour Dr.