Yesterday Chris T and I lunched at Raw Energy on the corner of Market and Corrimal Streets. Very healthy. I walked via Market Street, passing on the way one of Wollongong’s oldest surviving buildings, the Congregational Church.
The Congregational Church in Wollongong was officially established in October, 1855, and services were held in family homes.
The first minister was Rev. George Charter, who had been a missionary in the South Seas. In 1856, it was decided to build a chapel for the growing congregation, and in August, 857, the present church in Market Street was dedicated. Trustees of the new building included the Sydney businessmen, David Jones and John Fairfax.
Rather unexpected this, but there is a very good account of Wollongong’s history at Australia Police!
… In 1805 surveyor James Meehan noted the tremendous stands of huge red cedar trees in the area. The (illegal) pillaging of the South Coast’s timber reserves to feed the demand in Sydney for softwoods appears to have commenced around 1810.
In 1815 Charles Throsby and party hacked a track from Liverpool to the Illawarra escarpment and down through an area near Bulli Pass to confirm what his Aboriginal guides had told him: that here was excellent pasturage. He soon returned with his livestock and set up the first stockman’s hut at what is now the corner of Smith and Harbour Streets, Wollongong.
Others followed and Governor Macquarie sent John Oxley down to survey the area and negotiate free land grants with the graziers. However, few of the landowners initially took up residence, instead leaving stockmen in charge, who lived in crude makeshift dwellings.
Conflict arose with the local Aborigines and, in 1826, a contingent of soldiers was sent to reinforce the claims of the settlers and perhaps to assert order amongst the unruly timber-getters. They established themselves at Port Kembla (the first land grant being made in that area in 1817) but moved on to Wollongong in 1829. Their presence represented the effective founding of townships at those two sites. Cases were initially heard in the commandant’s tent and in a slab hut from 1830. The first church services were held in 1831 and the first hotel opened c.1833. Although the land was originally set aside for grazing, agriculture (mostly grains and potatoes) soon asserted itself.
The town plan was gazetted in 1834 and the first regular steamship service to Sydney began that year…