CONGARINNI – Place of Fog

Congarinni is a rural/residential area just west of Macksville along Taylors Arm Road. Congarinni South Road runs off Taylors Arm Rd to the left. Congarinni North Rd runs off Talarm Rd on the right.

Not surprisingly, the stunning Nambucca River is a major attraction of this delightful locality. Rural house blocks and small hobby farms have cropped up among larger working cattle farms. Fruit, vegetables and nuts are grown on a commercial basis.

This contribution was researched and written by Jan Donaldson – April 2004.

When I first came across the small village of Congarinni I was intrigued about the meaning of the name. I have since come across two meanings. At the Nambucca Heads Visitor Information Centre, the Aboriginal meaning is noted as ‘fog’; in the book by Norma Townsend – Valley of the Crooked River – the meaning is given as ‘bog’. Early maps show the area as being very marshy.

From what I have been able to unearth, in the early days the main bullock trail from Kempsey ran through subtropical rainforest bush to the small village of Congarinni located where the Taylors Arm and Nambucca rivers meet. The trail then turned left to Bowraville and Bellingen, or right to Macksville.

The settlement of Congarinni began when Patrick Byrnes took up 295 acres in 1864. Patrick was the son-in-law of Thomas Howell who had portions between Blackbutt Creek and Wirrimbi. In 1867 Patrick selected two more portions – 33 and 36 acres. Patrick had been very shrewd in his selection as it proved to be some of the best land around – not marshy. He set up a general store and pub. It was here that the coaches stopped to change horses for the stage to Bellinger River. Patrick also ran a punt across the river. (Patrick Byrnes’s grave is a kilometre west of the Congarinni South Rd intersection on Taylors Arm Rd).

When townships developed, Congarinni was overlooked and Bowraville, Macksville and Nambucca Heads emerged. The ferry/punt was replaced by a bridge during World War II to speed up the transport of rural products needed for the war effort. A Mr B Green was the ferryman in 1907. In 1916 a Mr Tacon was paid 114 pounds per year to man the ferry. (The ferry service was not very punctual – those wishing to cross often had to find the ferryman working in his paddocks or nearby timber. My grandfather decided to move his house, farm buildings and family to his property on the southern side of the river because he was sick of waiting! J Lane )