(Click on a map to enlarge it)
One of the great insights into the Old AACo Road from Karuah to Tahlee is provided by Phillip Parker King’s lovely map of Port Stephens. It shows the old road in detail as well as the foreshore, Karuah River, Yalimbah Creek and lots of other detail.
Phillip Parker King was a renowned hydrographer and map maker, having gathered a great deal of experience as a ship’s captain. His maps of the coast of Australia are of very high quality. His most famous voyage was probably when he captained the Adventurer, the ship that accompanied the Beagle on Charles Darwin’s famous voyage.
So, when P. P. King was appointed head of the Australian Agricultural Company, it was hardly surprising that some of his old shipmates should visit Tahlee at his invitation. Charles Darwin and his artist colleague Conrad Martens were both visitors at Tahlee. (One of Marten’s paintings of Tahlee sold at Christie’s Auction House recently for thirty five thousand pounds!)
This 1845 map reveals the fact that the orginal AACo Road crossed Yalimbah Creek (a bridge was there in 1845) and then wound its way around the back of the hill on the Tahlee side. Nowadays, it takes a short cut beside the creek courtesy some extensive stone work. The rest of the road though, follows the same route that it does today.