Council removes monument to John Oxley’s arrival in Port Macquarie

It's gone: The monument dedicated to the arrival of John Oxley has been removed.
It's gone: The monument dedicated to the arrival of John Oxley has been removed.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has removed the sole monument dedicated to the arrival of John Oxley in the area.

The monument was unveiled on Town Beach in 1929.

The removal of the monument, which included a compass stand from HMAS Sydney, falls just a few weeks before the bicentenary of Oxley's journey through the upper reaches of the Hastings River, the naming of Mount Seaview and the arrival of the 16-member expedition in Port Macquarie.

Council says the Oxley monument will be replaced with a monument dedicated to Major Alban Charles Elliot.

Elliot served as mayor of Port Macquarie from 1925 until 1936 and his name is on the Oxley plaque.

Council group manager Liam Bulley said the Oxley plaque will not be lost.

“The Oxley monument at Town Beach has been removed and will be replaced with a monument dedicated to Major Alban Charles Elliot, who served as former Mayor of Port Macquarie (1925 to 1936)," Mr Bulley said.

"The monument will be replaced to preserve its heritage, best reflect the historical significance of the site and to coincide with the recent naming of roads Alban Place and Elliot Way leading to Town Beach.

"The HMAS Sydney compass stand that stood atop the Oxley monument will not be lost, and will form the nucleus of a new exhibition at the Mid North Coast Maritime Museum to commemorate local service and sacrifice to the Royal Australian Navy.

"The original plaque will be donated to the Elliot family. 

"The new Alban Elliot monument will be funded by descendants of the Elliot family, with Council contributing a granite plinth and pavers.” 

The monument will be replaced to preserve its heritage, best reflect the historical significance of the site and to coincide with the recent naming of roads Alban Place and Elliot Way leading to Town Beach.

Liam Bulley

Local historians have long been conflicted over the exact location of Oxley's campsite.

John Oxley's diary entry on October 8 reads: 'We pitched our tent upon a beautiful point of land, having plenty of good water and grass; and commanding a fine view of the interior of the port and surrounding country'.

In 1928 the Port Macquarie News noted that three anchors, formerly on the vessels of the Royal Navy, were on board HMAS Canberra for the 'purpose of memorials to Surveyor-General John Oxley, RN, the explorer'.

One of the anchors was to be sent to Wellington where Oxley heard of the victory of Waterloo; the second would be sent to Kirkham, where Oxley died; while the third anchor would be sent either to Mount Seaview or Harrington, where the explorer crossed the Manning River.

The report continued: "The Port Macquarie Municipal Coucil should take steps to obtain from the Admiralty a suitable memorial to Oxley, for erection in the municipality ... for it was here that the explorer first set foot on land bordering the Pacific Ocean, after coming down the Hastings River from Liverpool Plains in 1919.

"Port Macquarie is the most suitable spot on the Eastern coast for a tablet to perpetuate the memory of a man who did things, and notable ones too'.