Mill Workers Cottages, c.1912. Later site of Butter Factory
Mill Workers Cottages, c.1912. Later site of Butter Factory

Settling on a name for The Channon

THE Channon has had some colourful history, especially in recent years, but many still argue about the name itself, and sometimes the spelling of the name.

Some records have it as Shannon, Channon, or simply Terania.

In fact all these variations have been used from time to time but the official name is "The Channon", given when the post office was established there in 1908.

The name itself comes from the Bundjalung name for Zamia Palm which grew extensively in the area. White settlers translated this as Channon Palm and later the "Palm" was dropped.

Some years ago Pauline Barratt wrote an excellent book called "Around The Channon".

Here you will find the history of white settlement in the area plus histories of all the families who were associated with it including Beardow, Jackson, James, Tainsh, and the more recent "new age" arrivals, including those who developed the multiple occupancy era.

The cedar-getters were of course the first to go to the area.

There were huge and beautiful trees and many of these fell to their axes.

However, it is said that a mighty flood came and swept all of the logs away and the cedar-cutters left in disgust.

The country is certainly rugged and the creeks and streams are many but no doubt the remoteness deterred the cedar-getters as much as the flood waters.

Rafting the logs would certainly have been difficult to say the least! Certainly some of the timbermen remained, however, as logging continued even after the first settlers arrived just after 1900.

It is thought that James Brown Mitchell, a master furniture maker from Sydney, was the first to see the potential of The Channon area.

In 1902 he made enquiries about land and persuaded some friends to join him in selecting blocks in the Rocky Creek area.

These blocks had been marked out by surveyors some years before and markers had been left on trees.

The new settlers had to fight their way through bush and across streams to get to them.

Some decided to give up but most carried on. Settlers Don and Jim Thorburn had arrived in what was to become Dunoon in 1882.

They assisted the newcomers.

George Arkinstall and Edward Graves were apparently the first to arrive.

At first they lived in tents but later they built huts for their families.

According to a poem later written by Arkinstall there were twelve original selectors, all friends, who established themselves at The Channon.

The first task was to clear the land.

Under their Conditional Purchase agreements they had to improve their blocks each year and sometimes it was necessary to obtain help from outsiders to comply with these conditions.

However, paying scrub fellers was often beyond the means of the settlers.

There were no roads, only bullock tracks, and all supplies had to be brought in by packhorse from Lismore.

If a horse was not available men had to walk the 18 miles each way, carrying the goods on their backs.

They had to camp rough for several nights and hope the creeks would not wash them away as they waded across.

Some of the settlers were fined for not being able to fulfil the requirements of their Purchase.

Quite a few gave up and returned to Sydney while the remaining settlers usually took over their selections.

Most of the original selectors were qualified tradesmen and so could return to their trade. However, many dreams were lost or smashed in the early days!

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