Hawkesbury History: Indigenous origins of the Comleroy Road

History: Origins of the Comleroy Road

The name Comleroy originates from the Kamilaroi, the name of the Indigenous peoples of the Hunter Region.

Comleroy was the name given to a district west of Singleton in the Hunter Valley by early European settlers in the 1820s. The Comleroy region originally stretched from Patricks Plains at Mt Thorley, covering the fertile plains on both sides of the Hunter River up to Denman, and then on to Muswellbrook on the edge of the Liverpool Ranges and covered an area of over 60,000 acres.

In the Hawkesbury, the Comleroy Road was so called because it originally led north, through to the original Comleroy area in the Hunter region. This was Australia's first road north, opened in 1823. Notes made by historian Macleod Morgan state that the Comleroy area in the Hunter, with all its various spellings, "gave our first road north one of its original titles".

One of the earliest recorded references to the Comleroy area in the Hunter Valley was in the diary of the explorer John Howe (1819), who led an expeditionary party to the region. In his journal of November 4, 1819, Howe recorded that the Indigenous name Coomery Roy referred to the Hunter Valley plains. Many early historical sources verify the use of the Comleroy name (with a variety of spellings) to refer to this area of the Hunter Valley.

An article in The Australian newspaper on September 21, 1827, stated that the Cumneroy extends "along the main river for twenty-five to thirty miles from the mouth of the Wollombi to the mouth of the Goulburn [river], and contains about fifty or sixty thousand acres of excellent land on both sides of the Hunter, including Jerry's Plains, and Big and Little Flat".

In his book, Dawn in the Valley: The Story of Settlement in the Hunter Valley to 1833, W Allan Wood devotes an entire chapter to the first coming of European settlers to the Coomery Roy area of the Hunter in 1819-1820.

There were a number of permits issued for early settlers to pass cattle along the Comleroy Road to farms in the Comeroy district in the Hunter Valley recorded in the Colonial Secretary's Papers of NSW during the years 1823/1824.

By the late 1800s, Comleroy Road had become a designated stock route for both cattle and sheep. The government creating many such travelling stock reserves along the road, no more than ten miles apart so that the stock could rest and the drovers could camp for the night.

Many of the stock passing through the cattle yards at Comleroy in the Hunter, from as far as Queensland, were destined for the meatworks at Riverstone. The Riverstone Meatworks was founded by Benjamin Richards in 1878. In 1893, Benjamin built an imposing two storey Victorian house in Windsor Street, Richmond.

Unfortunately the house was demolished in 1956, however, the imposing gates with the inscription 'Kamilaroi 1893' remain a well-known Richmond landmark. The name held associations for Benjamin Richards because he owned extensive land holdings near Comleroy in the Hunter Valley.