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About Eungai (Unkya)

Eungai, comprising of the villages of Eungai Creek and Eungai Rail, the surrounding countryside of Allgomera and Tamban, and land along Browns Crossing Road, is a small community on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales, mid-way between Sydney and Brisbane. In fact it was said that the railway crossing at Eungai Rail was exactly 333 miles from both Sydney and Brisbane when the railway was opened. The Pacific Highway cuts its noisy way through the district providing a fast route to the nearest towns of Macksville and Kempsey.

This rich covering of forest provided food and shelter for Aboriginal tribes and later attracted the timber-getters in their search for the once abundant cedar. The landscape of today has been shaped by the Aboriginals’ burning of the forest grasses, by the cedar-getters depletion of the cedar forests, and by the later extraction of hardwood. But the selectors in their quest for farmland had the most impact on the landscape. In just a few years large areas of forest were ring barked or burned to create farmland of varying quality. Today Eungai forests still support a timber industry and animals still graze on the grasslands though to a lesser but more varied degree.

The most prominent feature of the district is the 495m high Mount Yarrahapinni. Lying between Eungai and the sea, it’s many moods dominate the horizon. Whether it is shrouded in clouds, rimmed with fog, bathed in evening sunlight, or battered by fierce storms, this landform is the jewel of Eungai, almost changing its appearance at every glance.

Spelling of place names

The spelling of place names has been a problem as some have changed, and some appear to have various spellings according to various sources. Before 1913 Eungai was known as Unkya so in the text Eungai before that time is referred to as Unkya.

Local History

Before 1913 Eungai, including Eungai Creek, Eungai Rail, the surrounding countryside of Allgomera and Tamban and land along the countryside of Brown’s Crossing, was known as Unkya [D. Dunne Family Farm and Forest, p. 3]. According to D. Dunne, the original meaning of Unkya is shrouded in confusion because of the influence of different aboriginal tribes and the Australian government [ Dunne, p. 16].

Traditional meanings of the name Unkya include:

  • Noisy water or rippling creek
  • Good tucker or plenty tucker
  • Long river
  • Singing creek
  • Plenty of water or long water
  • Fog

“From the beginning of the settlement in the valley the pronunciation of Unkya had caused problems” [Dunne, p.53]. In 1841 spelling by Hodgkinson was “Oankihi”, Aboriginal pronounciation seemed to be “Unk-ky-a” and residents called it “Yuan-kya”. Macksville Post master suggested “Euinguy in 1891; in 1912 the Upper Unkya Progress Association petitioned the Lands Department for the name to be changed from “Unkya” to “Eungai”, this was officially changed on 26 January 1912.

The Unkya Recreational Reserve was set aside in 1901 as a venue for wood chops, sports days, cricket, football matches and as a traveling stock reserve [Dunne, p. 50].