Take a stroll and admire Stroud, the historic centre of the Port Stephens Estate established in November 1826 by AACo.
The picturesque village of Stroud is located in the Karuah River valley and owes its existence to the first major agricultural enterprise to be attempted in the country: the Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) and is home to a unique Barrington Coast event.
I thought at the time I had never beheld so sweet a spot.
Stroud is the historic centre of the Port Stephens Estate, established in November 1826 by AACo’s first chief agent, Robert Dawson. He was enormously impressed by the country his party traversed – the grassy flats along the Karuah River, the “fine sheep hills” around Stroud, the open country of the Vale of Gloucester “like a gentleman’s park”, and the many beautiful waterways that he encountered, including the Gloucester River and Barrington River.
When Dawson decided on a site for the first inland town of the Port Stephens Estate, he chose the Karuah River valley where two water courses converged (Lamans Creek and Mill Creek). He named the site Stroud as it reminded him of the Cotswolds countryside in England, and most of the wool to be grown was intended for the mills in Stroud Gloucestershire in England.
In his journal he described it as "beautiful and picturesque, consisting of low undulating hills... I thought at the time I had never beheld so sweet a spot. The soil is exceedingly rich and the country is watered by two small rivers which form a junction in the vale, and afterwards discharge into the navigable Karuah River”.
Stroud is the prettiest country town in the whole mid north coast.
And so Stroud in the colony of New South Wales was born.
We may be a little biased but today Stroud is the prettiest country town in the whole mid north coast of New South Wales.
It has many surviving buildings from the colonial era and some of these are still in use today: Stroud House (1827–32); St John's Church (1833) and Quambi School House (late 1830s). The agricultural history can still be seen at the unique underground grain silos built by AACo on Silo Hill, there’s a quaint strip of local shops plus a grand country-style hotel like you see in the movies. The Post Office (1884) is considered one of the most impressive in the region, with cedar fittings and was restored in 1984. The Court House (built 1876 to replace the 1840s building) now serves as an historical museum run by the Stroud & District Historical Society. It’s open Sundays from 11am-1pm, other times by appointment 4994 5400 or visit www.stroudhistoricalsociety.com. You can also visit Quambi House on Sundays too, it’s open 1.10pm to 3pm.
Stroud Heritage Walk
Many of Stroud's old buildings have been preserved and the town is under National Trust classification. The oldest are convict-built. As a company town which was planned rather than developed piecemeal it had, and retains, some unity of focus and character.
Pick up a heritage walk brochure from Crafty Friends on the main street (Cowper Street). If the shop isn’t open then check out the map outside the Court House that lists eight places of interest, all of them within easy walking distance (5 of the 8 are in Cowper Street). Each place has an excellent and detailed sign outside.
See more fascinating details about Stroud here.
Download the Scenic Drive: Historical Hinterland
Rolling Pin and Brick Throwing Competition
One of the more unique country events, the annual Stroud Rolling Pin and Brick Throwing competition has been held for over 6 decades.
Originally the competition was between the four Stroud townships in the world - Gloucestershire UK , Ontario Canada, Oklahoma USA & NSW Australia. All townships not only had a name in common but a connection to the humble brick - Stroud Aus being the handmade bricks that lined many of the buildings and cottages of the township. The competition pitted entrants against each other to see who could throw a 5-pound brick the furthest. In its second year, Stroud Aus introduced the rolling pin competition for Women and is the only Stroud left in the world that still holds the annual competition.
The day is one of the biggest on the Stroud calendar featuring a street parade, family entertainment, food vendors, live music and of course the competition itself.
The current brickthrowing record is 142’6”, and the rolling pin throwing record is 156’4”, held by England and U.S.A. respectively.