The rise and subsequent decline of Port Macquarie in the 1800s from the centre of British civilization in the north to a quiet backwater is captured in the rise and fall of one man, Archibald Clunes Innes.
His story also tells us much about New England's early colonial history.
Innes (1800-1857) was born at Thrumster, Scotland, the son of Major James Innes, a distinguished soldier.
At 13, he joined the army as an ensign, serving in the Peninsular War against Napoleon.
Innes arrived in Sydney in 1822 as captain of the guard in the convict ship Eliza.
There he quickly moved up the colonial hierarchy, including six months as commandant of the Port Macquarie penal colony.
In 1829 at one of the most magnificent weddings that the colony had then seen, Innes married Margaret, daughter of the colonial secretary, Alexander McLeay.
McLeay, the builder of Sydney icon Elizabeth Bay House, was one of Sydney's wealthiest and most prominent men. The Macleay River carries his name.
Having resigned his commission in 1829, Innes became police magistrate at Port Macquarie in 1830 and was granted 2568 acres (1039 ha) of land and contracts to supply the convict population with food.
By 1840, Innes was one of the wealthiest men in the colony.
Working from his initial base, he had acquired sheep and cattle stations all over northern NSW, among them Yarrows on the Hastings, Brimbine and Innestown on the Manning, Waterloo, Innes Creek, Kentucky and Beardy Plains on the tablelands.
His acquisition of Furracabad and the creation of the store on that station would provide the base for the development of Glen Innes.
To support his growing empire he created stores, would build the first convict-built road onto the Northern Tablelands and began exporting wool from Port Macquarie to Sydney.
In his mind, I think, he saw Port Macquarie developing as a major commercial centre and port servicing the New England.
As a sign of his growing wealth, Innes used convict labour to build Lake Innes House, a grand new home suitable to his aspirations. There he entertained lavishly supported by staff including a butler, musicians, maids and stable hands.
The staff included New England's first Spanish settlers.
As Innes's interests developed, Port Macquarie became an immigration centre bringing in new and especially Scottish settlers who would move onto the tablelands.
Among those who came were his cousin William Tydd Taylor and wife Margaretta Lucy Lind who would take up what became known as Terrible Vale Station.
Archibald Clunes Innes was now at the peak of wealth and power, but disaster lay ahead.
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