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Bellingen

4.3
Bellingen is a small town on Waterfall Way on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. It is approximately halfway between the major Australian cities of Sydney and Brisbane. It is the seat of Bellingen Shire and has a mixture of valley, plateau and coastal environments.EtymologyThe township lies on the Bellinger River. In 1841, Government surveyor, Clement Hodgkinson visited the area. When naming newly discovered places, he preferred to use existing native place names rather than foreign ones, so he used the Gumbaynggir name for river, "Billingen" as the name of the area. The name has also been reported as meaning "clean water", "winding river", "quoll" and "cheeky fellow". Originally, Bellingen was pronounced "Billingen", where the "ng" was pronounced as in "sing".When it came time to write the word, the Aboriginal voice and the European ear combined to give a spelling of "Billingen", "Billengen", "Bellengen" or "Bellingen". European usage has altered the original pronunciation to the current "Bellin-jen".To further confuse the issue, a draughtsman who was compiling the Colony map from original documents misread Hodgkinson's final handwritten "n" as an "r"; meaning that the Bellingen River officially became the "Bellinger", while the town retained the correct name of "Bellingen".HistoryThe Bellinger Valley including Bellingen was first settled by Kooris – the Gumbaynggir people – long before European settlement. The first European into the Bellinger Valley was the stockman William Myles who arrived in 1840 looking for new valleys north of Kempsey and the Macleay River. The following year Myles, accompanied by Surveyor Clement Hodgkinson explored the valley and by 1842 there were cedar cutters at the mouth of the Bellinger River and sheep grazing in the valley. In July 1843 the first cargo of red cedar from the Bellinger valley was transported to Sydney. So determined were the local Aborigines to keep the cedar cutters and explorers off their land that they regularly attacked the cedar cutters camps and when Hodgkinson returned to the valley he was accompanied by members of the Yarrahappinni group who he hoped would explain his 'innocent' intentions to the locals. In 1845 it was estimated that there were 300 Aborigines living in the Bellinger Valley.
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