Historical Towns Directory

By clicking on a state or territory on the map, you can access a regional guide to Australia's historic towns, including a wealth of information about organizations, museums and locations.

We invite organisations to submit information for inclusion on this site. Please click here to email your information to the Directory Editor, Ros Stirling.



Find Maclean

Maclean is situated on the Clarence River around 740 kilometres north of Sydney. This centre for sugarcane, mixed farming and river-prawn trawling is promoted as 'The Scottish Town' after the substantial number of early Scottish selectors who settled here.

European exploration of the area began with Matthew Flinders in 1799, landed near the mouth of the Clarence River, though he did not recognise it as such.

It is thought that the region, believed to have been inhabited by the Gumbaingirr or Yaygir Aboriginal peoples before white settlement, next experienced a European presence when escaped convicts passed through in the late 1820s and early 1830s. It was one of these convicts, Richard Craig, who first reported the presence of a 'big river' in the area.

Cedar cutting also began locally in the 1830s. The Clarence River was named by Governor Gipps in 1839. The area incorporating the future townsite became known as Rocky Mouth after it was surveyed in 1849.

The township of Maclean was officially laid out in 1862 and named after Alexander Maclean, the then-surveyor general. Many of its early settlers originated from the Scottish Highlands, though there was also a strong German and Irish population.

The town's oldest surviving building, today at 2B Howard Street, dates from 1864.

The surrounding sugar industry began to develop around 1865.

The Scottish settlers constructed the Free Presbyterian Church in 1867. This was the town's first public building and is still in use today. Maclean's Uniting (formerly Methodist) Church was built in 1890 while the stone St Mary's Catholic Church was erected in Gothic style in 1894.

A brewery established in 1870 has since been converted into residences. The Australian Joint Stock Bank was built in 1878, though its facade dates from 1893.

In 1887 Maclean became a municipality.

Maclean's courthouse (1891) was designed by architect James Barnet. The town's 1893 post office was built to a design by W.L. Vernon. The double-storey, red-brick primary school was built in 1892.

Presbyterian Church, Maclean (copyright Clarence River Tourism)

Maclean's Scottish heritage is today celebrated in initiatives such as painting the town's power poles in selected Scottish tartans, translating street signs into Gaelic and in the annual Highland Gathering at Easter.

Clarence Coast Visitor Information Centre
Phone: 02 6645 4121

Ferry Park, Pacific Highway
Maclean NSW 2463

Postal Address:

PO Box 555
Grafton NSW 2460

Email: contactus@clarencetourism.com
Website: http://www.clarencetourism.com/
Maclean Museum and Stone Cottage
Information: The museum features the district's Scottish history and many display modules, including an early hospital ward and a school classroom. On the ground floor are cane industry items, broom making, weaving and dairying equipent. The 100 -year-old Stone Cottage, built from local sandstone, is fully furnished. Open Wednesday and Saturday 1 - 4 pm, Friday 10 am - 4 pm.
Phone: 02 6645 3416

Cnr Wharf & Grafton Streets
Maclean NSW 2463

Email: macleanhistory@yahoo.com.au



Index of all
Australian Heritage articles