David BensonFri, 13/03/2015 - 2:42pm

From 1826 to 1831 an area of salt marsh to the east of Karuah on Port Stephens was the scene of intense activity as in excess of one hundred convicts employed by the Australian Agricultural Company strove to turn it into viable farming land. The site was known as Number One Farm and the scheme was the brainchild of Robert Dawson the AA Company's first Chief Agent. It was a miserable failure.

Every day for around five years, convict labourers trudged back and forth along the three kilometres of road between Tahlee and Number One Farm where they dug and drained and broke rock. They built bridges and walls and drains and they cleared the land of trees. The road they trudged along became what is now known as The Old AACo Road from Tahlee to Karuah. In 1841, Phillip Parker King drew the road onto his map showing how it linked to the punt at Karuah and then the road to Raymond Terrace.

The road from Tahlee to Karuah was then in continuous use over a period of one hundred and thirty years when the bridge at Number One Creek was destroyed and the road became blocked. Many Karuah and Tahlee locals remember using the road daily up to this point.

Since the 1950's, the road has been largely unused until in 2010, Karuah Progress Association organised the First in Fifty Years Walk from Karuah to Tahlee.

The event wasn't advertised widely, but on the 7th November, 2010 more than 100 people walked the road with the help of Gordon Latimore, a local oyster farmer who ferried parties across Number One Creek in place of the bridge. Since then it's been held every year!

This year the event will be repeated on Sunday 19th April 2015. There will be a charge of $30 to cover the cost of a light lunch before leaving, the ferry crossing, the guided walk, devonshire tea, a guided tour at historic Tahlee House and the bus trip back to Karuah by the main road. The newly published Walk Booklet will be available for sale for $5.

The 5 kilometre walk starts at 11.30pm at Longworth Park, Karuah and the event will take roughly three hours. For more information, go to http://aacoroad.com, email alcedo3@bigpond.com or phone 0249975579.


Bob and I did this walk the day before the April downpour. It was very well organised and most enjoyable. On arrival we signed the idemnity forms and were put into a group of about 12. Lunch was at 11.30am, a sausage sizzle with salads, fruit and homemade slice. The leader of our group gathered us all together at about 12 noon and we set off.
The walk was relatively easy. The patch through the wetland was very muddy and slippery but not a problem if you were careful. Getting onto the oyster punt across the creek was difficult with all the mud an our shoes, but there were plenty of helpers to ensure our safety. Rain threatened but held off. A lot of the path had been slashed or mown and the remainder of the walk was fairly quick.
We were greeted at Tahlee by guides in period costume. We had a lovely afternoon tea with scones, jam and cream followed by a short guided tour of the Tahlee site. We only had a short amount of time by ourselves for a wander around Tahlee and by 2.30pm we were on the bus back to Karuah.
Well done to the people of Karuah for organising this event-a lovely way to learn about some of the history of the area.