Aboriginal History

The Wonnarua / Wanaruah people are the traditional land owners of the Singleton area and their lands extend throughout the Hunter Valley. The Wonnarua / Wanaruah have occupied the Upper Hunter for at least 30,000 years, with traditional knowledge holding that occupation extends back to the early stages of the Dreaming.

A dreamtime story from the Wonnarua / Wanaruah explains how the hills and rivers in the Hunter Valley were created by a spirit called Baiame. Before this, there was nothing- everything was sleeping. Then the spirit awoke and created everything - the mountains, plains, rivers and living things.

Singleton Council would like to acknowledge the value of Aboriginal people and their long, rich cultural and spiritual connections to the Singleton area. This is evident in the stories and ceremonies, natural landmarks and scared objects embedded in the landscapes and waterways throughout the region today. As you journey through Singleton absorb the beauty of the land, its magnificent landscapes, spectacular waterways and abundance of native flora and fauna. Travel thoughtfully and respectfully remembering the footsteps of the ancestors who walked this land before you and those who will follow.


St Clair Mission was established by Reverend J S White and covered 60 acres. People living at St Clair farmed the land and also used traditional Indigenous means of subsistence. In 1905, St Clair came under the control of the Aborigines Inland Mission, an organisation founded by Baptist missionary Retta Dixon. Missionaries from various religious backgrounds used the St Clair Mission as a recruiting ground and a mechanism to influence into Indigenous communities in New South Wales. St Clair operated until 1918 when it was taken over by the Aborigines Protection Board and renamed Mount Olive Reserve. At his time, strict rules were introduced by Manager of the Mission and many people were removed from Mount Olive for not following the strictly imposed rules. By 1923, Mount Olive Reserve was closed to Aboriginal people.

The history of this property is important to the Wonnarua / Wanaruah people, who have little record of their history prior to the white settlement.


The Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation was established in 1999 and represents the Wonnarua people. It focuses on nurturing the history and culture of the Wonnarua Nation, improving the health and education of its members and managing investments to sustain the Corporation’s work.