The ‘Early Days of the Hoschke Family in Australia’ outlines how the family moved to Upper Orara as one of the first to settle there.  The first ten years were difficult and the main issue was lack of infrastructure.  Settlements tended to be where ships could go such as the Bellinger River to the south and the Clarence, at Grafton, in the north.  The Orara river flows north into the Clarence. The map below, although from 1906, shows the expanse of the area, yet it does not reach north to Grafton or south to Bellingen.

County of Fitzroy map, 1906 Coffs Collections, accessed 20 Oct 2022,

After clearing land, the settlers could grow crops such as maize and raise pigs.  The problem was how to reach a market.  Coffs Harbour was close but did not have a jetty; Fernmount on the Bellinger was separated by hills and Grafton was long way away.

So, progress associations were formed to pressure the state government to provide –

  • Roads instead of rough tracks
  • A jetty at Coffs Harbour
  • Schools
  • Post Office
  • Railway line

Also, to have the conditional purchase proviso to build fences eased and later to have flying foxes declared as vermin.

It is interesting to note how formal, down to nit-picking, the associations could be.  As the settlers had to walk to get to meetings associations were localised.

The first mention of the South Grafton Association found is on 23 October 1886 and then 6 November.  It covered all the area from South Grafton to Orara.  As this was such a large area a sub-branch was suggested for the area toward Upper Orara.

Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW : 1859 – 1889), Saturday 12 March 1887, page 3

Meeting of Selectors.

IN compliance with notifications posted in different localities, a well-attended meeting of the selectors within the special area of the Upper Orara River, and persons residing on the Orara and Nana and Bucca Creeks, took place at Mr. Rudder’s, Coramba. The object of the meeting was to take into consideration the general requirements of the district of the Upper Orara and its tributaries.

Mr. GEORGE GEDDES, of Nana Creek, was unanimously elected chairman, and in a few appropriate remarks drew attention to the objects of the meeting, and to the absolute necessity that existed for the construction of roads, to enable the farmers to get either, to Grafton or to Coffs Harbour – the only two natural outlets, they had for their produce. The chairman also stated that he had been informed that a considerable amount of business had been prepared for the meeting to deal with and he trusted those present would give their best attention to the various subjects that would be laid before them.

On resuming, his seat, some discussion followed with regard to what business should be dealt with first, when Mr. E. F. RUDDER drew attention to the existence of a Progress, Association at South Grafton, and pointed to the advantages that would follow if the residents of the Upper Orara, and Bucca, Nana, and Tallawadjeh Creeks would form a branch of the Association. He said that with regard to our roads he had never seen any part of the colony so completely ignored. That notwithstanding the fact that the Orara and its tributaries maintained a large farming population, and contained some of the richest lands on the coast – large areas of which were still open for selection – and the additional fact that these localities were the main local feeders to the South Grafton traffic – yet there was not a road from any of the farming centres fit to drive or ride upon. And, as a matter of fact, that any person travelling from South Grafton to the Southern districts with vehicles of any description would require to carry an axe, a spade, and a lever, as well as provisions, for there was no knowing what would be required in the way of digging a vehicle out of a bog, or filling up holes, or cutting logs and stumps out of the way. He proposed – “That those persons present resolve themselves into a Progress Association, to be known as the Upper Orara branch of the South Grafton Progress Association.”

“That to watch the interests of the Upper Orara and Bucca and Tallawadjeh Creeks, the following gentlemen form the committee for this branch: Messrs. James Sweeney, John Cowling, Daniel Morris, Andrew Nicholson, A. W. Perry, John McLeod, Amandus Hoschke, Samuel Van, and the mover, with power to add to their number.”

Several of the gentlemen named were already subscribers to the South Grafton Association, but eight new names were immediately handed in, and the resolution was carried unanimously.

On the motion of Mr. S. K. VAN, seconded by Mr. D. SMALL, Mr. Rudder was elected hon. Secretary and Treasurer.

It was then proposed by Mr. SMALL, seconded by Mr. A. COWLING, and carried, “That Mr. Rudder act as representative for this branch at the meetings of the Parent Association.”

The following resolution was then moved by Mr. A. NICHOLSON, seconded by Mr. JOHN McLEOD, and carried.

“That the road from South Grafton, via the Orara river to the Bellinger, is the best and shortest route for the main highway to the south. That this road runs through fine agricultural lands, and on national and local grounds it should be placed on the schedule of first-class roads.”

This resolution was supported by Mr. Cowling and other gentlemen who had resided on the Orara for over 20 years and were thoroughly conversant with the features of the country. The tens of thousands of acres of brush lands to the west that would soon be settled upon was also brought under notice. The following resolution moved by Mr RUDDER, and seconded by Mr. BAKER was then submitted, and carried unanimously:-

“That the main road from South Grafton, via the Orara river to the Southern coast districts, is a disgrace to the Grafton electorate. And the roads that lead to South Grafton from the agricultural settlements on the Orara River, and Bucca and Kangaroo Creeks, would disgrace the fag ends of a third-class district.”

Objection was raised that there were no roads; that these were only the TRACKS that had been opened 20 years ago by teamsters, and that these went in zigzag directions to evade such obstructions as were too much for a private individual to remove, or to hit the most convenient crossings. It was urged that the resolution was not strong enough to meet the case, considering the importance of the localities, and the fact that we were supposed to be part of a first-class electorate.

The next resolution was proposed by Mr. BAKER, seconded by Mr. SMALL, and carried. “That Mr. Rudder be authorised to communicate with the Postmaster-General with regard to postal conveniences within the special area, and the Upper Orara generally.”

After some discussion it was decided that Post offices should be applied for at or near Mr. Rudder’s, on the Orara, adjoining the north boundary of the special area; and at or near Mr. John McLeod’s, about 10 miles higher up, within the special area. It was pointed out that both places were the centres of small agricultural settlements, with families amounting to over 20 children at each place.

It was then proposed by Mr. SMALL, and seconded by Mr. PARRY, “That the resolutions passed at this meeting be forwarded to the Secretaries of the South Grafton Progress Association, with the request that the subjects dealt with may be submitted to the next monthly meeting of their Association for approval and support.”

The question of schools was then taken up. Mr. RUDDER stated that he had already spoken to Mr. McCredie on this subject, and if we took action in the matter we could now obtain half-time schools, both in this neighbourhood and near Mr. McLeod’s; but he thought it would be wise to wait a little longer, as there was a probability of the Government reducing the price of the lands within the special area, in which case we should soon have an influx of population, and would then be enabled to obtain full time schools at both these localities. After some discussion it was decided to allow this matter to stand over till next meeting.

Some discussion took place with regard to joining the Bellinger in forming a new electorate, and the idea met with general approval, but no action was taken in the matter.

Three petitions were submitted to the meeting, one praying for a reduction in the price of the lands within the special area, one for a jetty at Coff’s Harbour, and one for the opening of a road through the special area – all of which were adopted and signed by those present. They will be circulated for additional signatures and forwarded to their destinations without delay.

This closed the business of the meeting, when a unanimous and hearty vote of thanks was accorded to the Chairman, and suitably replied to.  After partaking of some lunch, separation was the order of the day.

Trove APA citation – Meeting of Selectors. (1887, March 12). Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW : 1859 – 1889), p. 3. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from

However, at a public meeting, held at Coramba, the response from the South Grafton was noted.  The proposed new association had their first meeting on 4 June 1887.

Public Meeting at Orara.

In compliance with notices posted at Coff’s Harbour, the Upper Orara, and other localities interested, a public meeting was held at Mr. Rudder’s, Coramba, on the Upper Orara, on Saturday, the 30th April, at 11 a.m., to consider the desirability of carrying out the intention of a previous meeting held at the same place, to form a branch of the South Grafton Progress Association (Mr. W. A. Parry in the chair.) Thirty one persons were present, including Mr. Mackay, proprietor of the North Coast Times, who was received with acclamation. Nine others sent apologies.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read, when the secretary pro tem stated that he had attended a meeting of the South Grafton Progress Association, and laid before that body the wish of the first meeting to become a branch of the South Grafton Association. But that Association ruled that they would not acknowledge the residents of the Orara as a branch, us they had not complied with rule 2 of their regulations.

The secretaries of the South Grafton Association had kindly furnished Mr. Rudder with a copy of their rules, which were read, and carefully considered by the meeting. A considerable discussion followed, when it was clearly seen that the feeling of those present was strongly in favour of forming an independent Association.

It was pointed out that this course of action would not be inimical to the interests of those concerned, as both associations would cooperate for the general good in all matters affecting the welfare of the district.

APA citation – Public Meeting at Orara. (1887, May 7). Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW : 1859 – 1889), p. 3. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from

Amandus Hoschke was a member of this association.  Apart from the serious business they also formed a cricket club.  However, by 18 May 1888 there was a letter to the editor complaining that the interests of Upper Orara and the West Branch [Dairyville] were not being met by the existing association.  So, they formed their own progress association and at this time Amandus was the president.

Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW : 1859 – 1889), Tuesday 7 August 1888, page 3

Upper Orara and West Branch Progress Association.

A MEETING was held at Mr. John McLeod’s on the 30th July, the president (Mr. Hoschke) in the chair. The secretary (Mr. John A. Maclachlan) read a letter received from Mr. McFarlane, M.L.A., with regard to road Coffs Harbour to the West Branch; and also a letter from Mr. See, M.L.A., stating that a Postal Inspector would shortly visit the locality and report upon the matter.

The Secretary stated that the reason so much delay had taken place in not granting the receiving Post office was that one of the inhabitants of this district had applied for the office and, if he got it, it would inconvenience the whole of the residents, as it is out of the way. Mr. McLeod’s being central it would be the most convenient to all inhabitants here.

Mr. D. N. Small said that rumours had been going about the district to the effect that Mr. McLeod would not take the Post office, and it even appeared in the North Coast Times. He did not know where these rumours originated, as Mr. McLeod was always willing to accept the office. It was resolved that Messrs. J. A. Maclachlan, D. N. Small and A. Hoschke be appointed to wait on the Postal Inspector and explain matters to him.

Resolved that as Mr. Traill is coming up the Upper Orara to Coff’s Harbour on a visit, that the inhabitants meet in a body and show him the district. Some discussion here took place with regard to applying for a half-time school at Bradley Camp, when it was unanimously agreed to hold the matter over till next meeting.

Trove APA citation – Upper Orara and West Branch Progress Association. (1888, August 7). Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW : 1859 – 1889), p. 3. Retrieved October 19, 2022, from