IN ANTICIPATION of cutting cedar on the Macleay, Dr Charles Fattorini of Port Macquarie built a wharf on the Macleay River near the present day Warneton Dr west of Kempsey.
His plans were thwarted when cedar licences were temporarily revoked in 1835. The nearby creek however still bears his name and the wharf came into use for other purposes.
In the drought and depression of the early 1840s cattle prices were so low that it was more profitable to boil down their carcasses for tallow for the London market.
William Gard applied for a pastoral run which included the wharf to establish a boiling down works there. A nearby street was later named after him.
The run was known as the Macleay River Steam Works and eventually comprised 640 acres.
John Warne took over the run in 1846 and later applied to have the name changed to Warneton.
In 1857 he used his pre-emptive right to purchase 222 acres and gradually added to his holdings there with other purchases.
After his death in 1874, his widow Azemie sold his Warneton properties to Robert Campbell.
Robert Campbell had grandiose plans which included a butter factory and a township for which he proposed the name 'Campbell Town'.
Warneton at that time was a thriving settlement and the wharf there was at the head of navigation on the Macleay, however the blocks in Campbell's planned town did not sell although some street names on the plan such as Manx St are still in use.
Robert's mother Ann was a native of the Isle of Man. The butter factory did go ahead and was opened in 1890, the first one in the district.
This was a major step in the development of the dairying industry on the Macleay.
Like many others, Robert Campbell experienced financial difficulties in the 1890s and in 1898 he sold the Warneton Estate, together with the substantial house he had built there, and moved to the Northern Rivers area where he helped establish the Tweed River Agricultural Society and was also active in the dairying industry there.
The purchaser of the Warneton Estate in 1898 was Thomas Gibson Vivers, formerly of Inverell.
After carrying out general farming and dairying on the property for some years, Vivers subdivided the property in 1916 into four farms, which did sell well.
William Secomb, William Osborne, Herbert Nelson and Michael Smyth each bought one of the farms, with Nelson purchasing the southern farm of 120 acres which included the original homestead.
The Nelson family called their property 'River Dale' and in 1922 Herb Nelson rebuilt the rambling old homestead using the original timber. After Herb left River Dale in 1938, his son Arnold moved in with his family and erected new dairy buildings to replace the original ones.
After the Nelson family, the property was purchased by Dr and Mrs Abbott who once again restored the old homestead, once the centrepiece of the Warneton Dairy, before they moved on to Victoria.
Unfortunately, the old homestead was destroyed by fire in 1989.
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