The North Harbour site has a long and interesting heritage in the past 150 years and has gone through several incarnations since it was first named Moray Fields in 1861. It was a Cotton Farm, a Sugar Plantation, a Dairy Farm and Pine Plantation in the years before North Harbour purchased it in 2005. We then worked through 10 years of planning and approvals before we welcomed our first residents, and Coral Homes opened the first home in our first Display Village in 2016.
Originally Moray Fields was conceived as a cotton farm, with a company of business partners, one of which was George Raff. After this Cotton Business joint venture didn’t work out, the land was bought out by Mr Raff. He developed it as a Sugar Cane Plantation and Processing Works.
Mr Raff was an early adopter of the technology available at the time, which he brought in to help with business activity. He introduced a loop of tramways constructed on timber foundations – a system for cut cane transport, which enabled a horse or two to haul heavy loads in from the fields more easily. Steam power was employed to drive the other machinery on the property.
Sugar cane was grown here for the production of sugar and also rum and molasses. The plantation was a substantial undertaking in what was then a remote area, being approximately 40 kilometres north of Brisbane. Access by land was difficult and links to the outside world were better via boats and small steamers. So, a ‘commodious wharf’ was built on the river for landing and embarking goods or produce in the small vessels required for maintaining communication with the capital.
Mr Raff was a prominent supporter of the use of Islander peoples as labour on plantations. It remains unclear how many Islander labourers worked on the plantation, but in the late 1860s newspaper reports of the time suggest up to 70 at a time. These workers came from several islands in the South Pacific, but particularly from modern day Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
In later years, the former plantation lands were divided into paddocks for grazing dairy cows, though some portions continued to be cultivated. Successive owners erected new buildings and structures, such as dips, sheds and fences. Some plantation-era buildings were re-used, including the ‘mansion’ and possibly some sheds by the Caboolture River.
A Queenslander-style house was also built close to the lagoon for share-farmers and their families. In the 1950s, a new farm house complex was built, and the former plantation owner’s house abandoned and demolished. By the 1960s dairy farming had ceased and the land sold to A.P.M. Forests Pty Ltd. Most of the property was converted into pine plantation.
North Harbour will soon feature a Heritage Park centred around the heritage–listed archaeological remains of the “Moray Fields” settlement.
The precinct, which is currently in development, will make the significant heritage features still remaining from the Moray Fields settlement, publicly accessible for the first time since European settlement. The Heritage Park will offer public access and parking, an interpretive building, walking trails, signage and picnic facilities to allow visitors and residents access to this important historic site. A canoe landing and fishing platforms will also provide access to the Caboolture River.
Retaining and preserving the historical remnants of the site has been an important part of the North Harbour planning process. The area has been listed and protected on the Queensland Heritage Register since 2011 as a place of Queensland State significance. The history of the site will be interpreted from a dedicated facility that delivers a ‘mind map’ of the site before it is experienced firsthand. The facility is proposed to present historic photographs, sketched and display objects which will allow visitors to appreciate the stories and significant developments from the past up to the present day.
Interpretation delivery will be provided in the landscape alongside a network of heritage trails and using static signage as well as digital content for mobile devices. The delivery of interpretation will be aimed at school-aged students as well as local, state and international visitors learning about local history and South Sea Islander heritage.
On a broader community level, the South Sea Islander history of the site has presented an opportunity to recognise the contribution made by past generations of South Sea Islanders and provide a tangible, visitable focus for the Island and Australian South Sea Islander community and their descendants. Space is made available for the South Sea Islander community to remember their ancestors at this place.
To find out more about the future Heritage Park click here and to learn more about our first ever display builder, Coral Homes, visit https://www.northharbour.com.au/display-village/coral-homes/.
Our Sales and Information Centre & 33 Home Display Village including Coral Homes’ three displays are open every day from 10am-5pm (closed for the Christmas and New Year holidays from 5pm Friday December 21st – opening at 10am on Tuesday 2nd January 2019). For more information regarding available house and land packages for sale at North Harbour or call our Sales Team on 5433 1111, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also browse house and land packages on our website here.