The Worimi have been on ‘Country’ since time immemorial
11 May 1770, Lieutenant James Cook spies Worimi country and names it Port Stephens after Sir Phillip Stephens, Secretary of the Admiralty.
Port Stephens is home to the Worimi people. At the time of European settlement in 1788 there were about 600 Aboriginals living around the estuary of Port Stephens.
Four convicts seized a small boat in Port Jackson and made off to the North. After hugging the coast for some miles, finally being shipwrecked at Hawks Nest where they fell in with the Worimi who looked after them and took them on their wanderings.
Convict ship Salamander enters Port Stephens on route to Norfolk Island.
Captain Broughton and Charles Grimes, Deputy Surveyor of the Colony, was sent to Port Stephens in the ship the Francis to survey the Port and surrounds. The location was thought to be good for the gathering of cedar for use in the expansion of Sydney. They were surprised to find four white men, escapees of Parramatta Gaol, living with the Worimi.
Charles Grimes – Deputy Surveyor General names a long narrow piece of land inside the harbour jutting out in a north-west direction “Friendship Point” later to become Soldiers Point. The Worimi called this place; “Thou-Walla” meaning meeting place.
Charles Grimes fires on a Worimi person, reportedly killing the individual.
Robert Dawson chief superintendent of Australian Agriculture Company (AAC) arrives in Port Stephens and establishes its headquarters at Carrington on the northern shore of Port Stephens.
A small garrison of soldiers from the 57 Regiment was established at Friendship Point to capture escaped convicts from Port Macquarie and Trail Bay Gaol at South West Rocks, on route to Sydney. The garrison was later abandoned and Friendship Point is renamed Soldiers Point.
Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld, missionary to the Aborigines at Lake Macquarie visits the Worimi in Port Stephens.
AAC establishes a sheep station in the Karuah Valley.
1838 to 1841
AAC reports to the Select Committee of the NSW Legislative Assemblies indicate a level of employment of Worimi people on the station.
William Scott (source of The Port Stephens Blacks) is born.
Soldiers Point known as a ‘Village Reserve’
William Scott reports of a significant Worimi population decrease, of approximately 50%, in the area.
One of the earliest recorded claims by the Worimi people for the return of part of their lands was an individual claim by Tom ‘Willie’ Price: Willie asked for land in 1873 at Nelson’s Bay, and was told that as an existing coastal reserve was in force at Sandy Point (Corlette), his land would be secure enough if it was held only as ‘permissive occupancy’.
Conflicts between the Worimi and timber cutters at Karuah are reported.
Karuah Mission/Aboriginal Reserve established.
Alick Russell (Snr) is born at Forster and becomes a ‘Native Worker’ for the Australian Inland Missionaries at Karuah; He marries Daisy Clare Atkinson at Cumeragunja in 1913 and settles at Soldiers Point.
William Ridgeway gains ‘permissive occupation’ over beachfront land at Tea Gardens.
Big Bill Ridgeway is born and becomes a legendary rugby league player and cricketer of the Karuah Aboriginal Reserve. Wearing just one cricket pad and playing in bare feet, he scored 86 runs in 19 minutes in a game played at Morpeth. He was also selected to play for Waratah Rugby League football club.
William Ridgeway is crowned ‘King’ of the remaining Worimi people in Port Stephens.
Charlotte Ridgeway (nee Russell) wife of William Ridgeway is crowned ‘Queen’ of her people.
The Mission Church built on the Karuah Reserve is officially opened.
The Aboriginal Protection Board was given power by the Government to ‘disperse’ all Aboriginals living around the harbour and evicted all to the Karuah Aboriginal Reserve. The Ridgeways are defiant and remain at Soldiers Point.
Karuah Mission School begins operations.
William Ridgeway (King Billy) passes away.
W.J. Enright records a womans waterhole (Increase site) at Sandy Point (now known as Corlette).
Charlotte Ridgeway (Queen Charlotte) passes away.
Eric Simms is born at Karuah and becomes a rugby league footballer who has been named amongst the nation’s finest of the 20th century. His position of choice was at fullback. Simms played his entire first grade career for South Sydney with whom he won four premierships and was top point-scorer for four consecutive seasons. In August 2008, Simms was named at fullback in the Indigenous Team of the Century. Simms set several records in his playing days, some which still stand today. He is also noted for his goal-kicking ability (field, penalty and conversion): he once kicked five field goals in eleven minutes against Penrith in 1969. It has been said of Simms and his ability to kick field goals that he is “one of the few men” whose influence was such, it singlehandedly changed the game.
A report in the Newcastle Morning Herald (18th August 1950) quotes the superintendent of the ACC adapted the Aboriginal name “Thou-Walla” for Soldiers Point, which is claimed to mean “meeting place”.
Karuah Mission School closes after 38 years of operations.
Purchase of Soldiers Point by Port Stephens Council from the Commonwealth for 50.000 pounds.
The Norwegian bulk carrier, the Sygna was driven ashore on Stockton Bight during one of the most severe storms recorded in the area.
Birubi Headland archaeological excavations begin.
Worimi protest the redevelopment of the caravan park at Soldiers Point.
Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council is established under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act.
Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council is established under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act.
Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council is the first to have a successful land claim in the Lower Hunter. This was in December 1984.
Norm Newlin a Worimi man publishes Where There’s Life There’s Spirit; the first published work of prose by an Aboriginal.
Worimi woman, Marilyn Kong is Dux of Nelson Bay High School.
Worimi LALC lodges land claim on Stockton Bight. Worimi Elders, Aunty Iris Russell, Uncle Aleck Russell, and Uncle Les Ridgeway support the claims. New South Wales government announced its intention to create a new National Park at Stockton Bight which is the subject of a land claim.
Marilyn Kong becomes the nation’s first Aboriginal obstetrician; whilst her twin sister Marlene becomes a general practitioner.
Worimi Elder, Aunty Iris Russell is awarded Port Stephens Citizen of the Year.
NPWS conclude its assessment and nomination of Soldiers Point as an Aboriginal Place.
Worimi man, Kelvin Kong becomes the nation’s first Aboriginal surgeon, specialising in ear, nose and throat surgery.
The Newcastle City Council acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in this council area Awabakal and Worimi, were the first peoples of this land, and are the proud survivors of more than two hundred years of continuing dispossession. Newcastle Council recognises that the British invasion initiated massive changes to the land and its peoples.
Nadine Russell a Worimi woman is chosen to perform traditional dancing as a part of an Aboriginal dance troupe selected Australia wide in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games opening and closing ceremonies.
The New South Wales government announced the creation of what was to become a new 1905-hectare National Park, a 1475-hectare State Conservation Area and an 818-hectare Regional Park on Stockton Bight, collectively known as The Worimi Conservation Lands
Justin Ridgeway becomes the first Worimi man to be accepted into the NSW Police Force. On his way to becoming a Senior Constable he was awarded the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander (ARSI) student of the year.
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs appointed and endorsed the Stockton Bight Aboriginal Negotiating Panel to negotiate the land claims on behalf of the Registered Traditional Owners with the NSW Government.
Formal negotiations for Stockton Bight commenced to settle within terms of the Part 4A Lease (NPW Act 1974).
Worimi Elder, Uncle John Ridgeway is awarded Port Stephens ‘Volunteer of the Year’ and received the Prime Minister and Premiers award for his community work.
Stockton Bight lease formally signed off by Minister for the Environment (Hon. Bob Debus), Worimi Traditional Owners, Worimi LALC and National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Worimi Elder, Uncle John Ridgeway is awarded Port Stephens Citizen of the Year.
Birubi Headland and surrounding area is gazetted an Aboriginal Place.
An historic agreement, Crown land at Stockton Bight is handed back to its traditional owners, the Worimi. The new conservation area will be co-managed by them in partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Worimi Elder, Aunty Bev Manton is the first female elected to hold a position on the NSW State Aboriginal Land Council; she later becomes the Chairperson of the organisation.
Former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam attends the official ceremony on the dunes to celebrate the hand-back of Stockton Bight to the Worimi people.
Launch of Celebration in the Sand feature film.
Worimi Wuburay Elders take gold at the Elders Olympics in Taree; 22 teams from 16 Aboriginal communities in NSW competed.
Worimi Wuburay Elders take gold at the NSW Elders Olympics held on Worimi Country – Nelson Bay.
Worimi Conservation Lands Plan of Management is adopted by the Minister of Environment and Heritage.
After 36 long years to have Soldiers Point recognised as a culturally significant area for the Worimi, the Minister for Environment and Heritage declares Soldiers Point an ‘Aboriginal Place’.