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Reclaiming the coast

reclaiming-the-coastWhen the original land grants were made here in the 1800s, a strip of public land was set aside for 
access between the private properties and the high water mark. Unfortunately there were two properties where public land was not established. This omission blocked legal public access to this section of shoreline for about 170 years! 

In 2008, after Kiama Council successfully lobbied the State Government, the connecting lands were acquired into the NSW Coastal Lands Protection Scheme. This has enabled legal and safe public access to this dramatic stretch of coast. William Montagu Manning was a prominent figure in Kiama’s early development. In 1839 he purchased Bonaira (see map) from Captain Farmer with intention of dividing it into a number of dairy farms.

Cedar getters and labourers were the earliest workers in the Kiama area. As land was granted 
and sold in the 1820s and 1830s, more affluent members of colonial society set up estates. 
Convicts initially made up the bulk of the workforce. As the convicts obtained tickets-of-leave, landowners lost their cheap labour.

Consequently, the large grants were divided into smaller farms with tenants, while the rougher brushlands were given over to ‘clearing leases’. Clearing leases began in the early 1840s. 
Tenants received approximately 30 acres of uncleared land free of rent for 5–7 years. During this time they had to clear it and place it under cultivation. It was a system that provided 
land for immigrants, while cheaply converting land use to agriculture for the land owners.

This plaque is one of many found around the district. The plaques discribe the history of their locations. They were commissioned by Kiama Council in 2009.

If you had seen them around, you are welcome to have a look at the collection of plaques in the district.

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