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Description

Highly detailed working sea chart of the area between Tacking Point and Port Maquarie in the south and Coffs Harbor in the north, published by the British Admiralty.

The Tacking Point Light House is shown. Over 20 shipwrecks occurred in the Tacking Point area before a lighthouse was designed by James Barnet and erected there in 1879 by Shepard and Mortley.

Includes a large inset of Trial Bay and a large recognition profile view, sailing directions, (including several lighthouses) and other details. Most notably, there are annotations in red in the Macleay River, just north of Trial Bay, which were likely made by the British engineering firm which utilized this chart.

Trial Bay is a broad bay on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. The bay faces northwards and extends from Laggers Point in the east around to Grassy Head to the west, past the town of South West Rocks and the Macleay River mouth. The bay is named after the brig Trial which was shipwrecked there in 1816.

In 1820 John Oxley explored the area. He reported Port Macquarie as more favourable for settlement than Trial Bay, though Trial Bay might offer an anchorage while waiting for favourable winds to cross the bar at Port Macquarie. Trial Bay has a northerly facing and is sheltered from the predominant southerly swells. There have been various plans over the years to make it a full harbour, protected in all conditions. Its location in between other sheltered waters of Moreton Bay and Port Stephens recommended such a project. In the 1880s through to 1900s an attempt at a breakwater was made off Laggers Point.

It is likely that the red annotations were done by the firm of Coode Matthews, Fitzmaurice & Wilson of 9 Victoria Street in London. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, Coode Matthews was the engineering firm which had charge of the harbor at Dover, along with the harbors at Colombo and Singapore and were consulting engineers to the Colonial Crown Agents for a number of other British Colonial harbors.

The Tacking Point Light House is shown. Over 20 shipwrecks occurred in the Tacking Point area before a lighthouse was designed by James Barnet and erected there in 1879, by Shepard and Mortley.

The site of Port Macquarie was first visited by Europeans in 1818 when John Oxley reached the Pacific Ocean from the interior, after his journey to explore inland New South Wales. He named the location after the Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie.

Oxley noted that 'the port abounds with fish, the sharks were larger and more numerous than I have ever before observed. The forest hills and rising grounds abounded with large kangaroos and the marshes afford shelter and support to innumerable wild fowl. Independent of the Hastings River, the area is generally well watered, there is a fine spring at the very entrance to the Port'.

In 1821, Port Macquarie was founded as a penal settlement, replacing Newcastle as the destination for convicts who had committed secondary crimes in New South Wales. Newcastle, which had fulfilled this role for the previous two decades, had lost the features required for a place for dumping irredeemable criminals, that being isolation. The isolation was lost as the Hunter Region was opened up to farmers and large amounts of hard labour, which had diminished as the cedar in the area ran out and the settlement grew in size. Port Macquarie, however, with its thick bush, tough terrain and local aborigines that were keen to return escaping prisoners in return for tobacco and blankets, provided large amounts of both isolation and hard labour to keep the criminals in control. Under its first commandant, Francis Allman, who was fond of flogging, the settlement became a hell. The convicts had limited liberties, especially in regard to being in possession of letters and writing papers, which could get a convict up to 100 lashes.

In 1823 the first sugar cane to be cultivated in Australia was planted there. The region was first opened to settlers in 1830 and later on in the decade the penal settlement was closed in favour of a new penal settlement at Moreton Bay. Settlers quickly took advantage of the area's good pastoral land, timber resources and fisheries.

In 1840 the "Wool Road" from the Northern Tablelands was under construction to enable wool and other produce to be shipped from the port. Port Macquarie was declared a municipality in 1887 but the town never progressed as a port owing to a notorious coastal bar across the mouth of the river.

British Admiralty Biography

The British Admiralty has produced nautical charts since 1795 under the auspices of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (HO). Its main task was to provide the Royal Navy with navigational products and service, but since 1821 it has also sold charts to the public.

In 1795, King George III appointed Alexander Dalrymple, a pedantic geographer, to consolidate, catalogue, and improve the Royal Navy’s charts. He produced the first chart as the Hydrographer to the Admiralty in 1802. Dalrymple, known for his sticky personality, served until his death in 1808, when he was succeeded by Captain Thomas Hurd. The HO has been run by naval officers ever since.

Hurd professionalized the office and increased its efficiency. He was succeeded by the Arctic explorer Captain William Parry in 1823. By 1825, the HO was offering over seven hundred charts and views for sale. Under Parry, the HO also began to participate in exploratory expeditions. The first was a joint French-Spanish-British trip to the South Atlantic, a voyage organized in part by the Royal Society of London.

In 1829, Rear-Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort was appointed Hydrographer Royal. Under his management, the HO introduced the wind force scale named for him, as well as began issuing official tide tables (1833). It was under Beaufort that HMS Beagle completed several surveying missions, including its most famous voyage commanded by Captain FitzRoy with Charles Darwin onboard. When Beaufort retired in 1855, the HO had nearly two thousand charts in its catalog.

Later in the nineteenth century, the HO supported the Challenger expedition, which is credited with helping to found the discipline of oceanography. The HO participated in the International Meridian Conference which decided on the Greenwich Meridian as the Prime Meridian. Regulation and standardization of oceanic and navigational measures continued into the twentieth century, with the HO participating at the first International Hydrographic Organization meeting in 1921.

During World War II, the HO chart making facility moved to Taunton, the first purpose-built building it ever inhabited. In 1953, the first purpose-built survey ship went to sea, the HMS Vidal. Today, there is an entire class of survey vessels that make up the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic Squadron. The HO began to computerize their charts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In 1968, the compilation staff also came to Taunton, and the HO continues to work from there today.