Port Stephens Guide | State Library of New South Wales

Port Stephens Guide

Before the end of transportation to NSW in 1850, James Ralfe, a former government surveyor, suggested that a private emigration scheme might solve the problem of lack of convict labour to work the land at the AACo.'s Port Stephens Estate.

The 'Prospectus for the Port Stephens Colony' was issued in May 1849, in which potential emigrants read of the AACo.'s intention to throw open their million acre grant for the settlement of a 'respectable class of colonist who possesses some capital'. The scheme offered homesteads to settlers in 200 acre lots (later reduced to 50 acres) priced at £1 per acre. The land at Port Stephens was said to be 'the finest in the colony' with splendid pasturage for sheep and cattle where crops grew in abundance. Free passage to the colony would be provided to those who paid for their land in London.

Phillip Parker King, the AACo. commissioner in residence, was not a supporter of this scheme, however, believing that only a few isolated spots at Port Stephens were suitable for settler farmers. In the end, only 24 selections were issued and eight colonists signed up to embark with their familes for Australia. Following P.P. King's counter proposal, local sales of 1/2 acre town lots, with a few farms at Carrington and around Stroud, proved to be a far more successful method of land disposal at the Port Stephens Estate.

'A Guide to Port Stephens' was among several promotional publications released to coincide with the issuing of the 'Prospectus for the Port Stephens Colony', and aimed at enticing emigrants to take up farming in this part of NSW.