Timeline

Pre 1822Home to the Wonnarua people
1822Granted to James Phillips Webber
1841Homestead built by Felix Wilson
1844 - 1926Made famous as a stud by Reynolds family
1926Purchased by Alexander family

Thoroughbred

1947Charles Boyd Alexander died
1965College opened by Presbyterian Church through efforts of Edward A Hunt
1975NSW Department of Agriculture assumed control
1972First females enrolled
1974Bona Vista purchased*

Chapel Spire Construction

1980Dairy apprenticeship began
1981NSW Agriculture external study program moved to Tocal
1981NSW Numeralla chicken farm purchased
1984Tocal Field Days began
1985Miss Myrtle and Miss Marguerita Curtis died

Old Dairy

1987*Tocal Homestead opened to the public
1995*Certificate IV in Landcare began
1998Hunter Catchment Management Trust moved to Tocal
1999Certificate III in Horse Husbandry began
2000Diploma in Landcare and Natural Resources launched

Tocal Tour

2000Maitland district office of NSW Agriculture relocated to Tocal
2001*Stage 1 Visitor Centre opened. Multi-purpose Skill Shed opened
2002Tocal Agricultural Centre named
2002Opened Stage 2 Visitor Centre
2003Commenced weekend opening of Tocal Homestead

Tocal Homestead

2003Tocal named as a NSW Agriculture Centre of Excellence
2006The College renamed Tocal College, with two main campuses - CB Alexander Campus at Paterson and the Murrumbidgee Rural Studies Centre at Yanco.
2008First Tocal Invitation Stock Horse Sale
* Significant building constructions

Stock Horse Sale 2015

Summary of Tocal's history

Tocal has a long and proud history, which has seen it established as  one of the foremost agricultural institutions in Australia. Tocal is on the lands of the Wonnarua people.  The name ‘Tocal’ is a Koori word meaning ‘plenty’.

Tocal meaning plenty in the Koori dialect

Its involvement with agriculture began in 1822 when James Webber  took up the property as one of the first land grants in the Paterson  Valley. Webber must have been an innovative and farsighted man, as he  set about finding the types of agriculture that could be supported in  the district. Tobacco, hops, grapes, beef and dairy cattle, horses and  merino sheep were all grown in these early years.

In 1834 Webber sold Tocal to Caleb Wilson and his son, Felix, who  became sole owner on his father’s death in 1838. Felix built the  Homestead in 1841 and it is one of the classic houses of Australia. It  is the centrepiece of a set of buildings that is subject to a Permanent  Conservation order and registered in the National Estate.

Charles Reynolds leased the property in 1844. During the next 82  years, Charles, and subsequently his widow Frances, his son Frank and  grandson Darcie, ran Tocal as one of the most important Hereford, Devon  and Thoroughbred studs in the country. Frank Reynolds purchased Tocal from the Wilson family in 1907.

In 1926, Tocal was purchased from the Reynolds family by Jane Alexander. The Alexander family at Tocal consisted of Jane (known as Jean), Isabella, Robert, and Charles. By 1939 only Charles remained and he invited his two nieces, Myrtle and Marguerita Curtis to reside with him at Tocal.

They were daughters of his late sister Margaret. Following Charles’ death in 1947, they lived at Tocal until their death just five days apart in 1985, at the ages of 95 and 97 respectively.

Marg And Myrtle Curtis

When Charles Alexander died in 1947, he left a very large estate and  a particularly detailed and complex will. His intention was that his  estate be used to help orphan and destitute children by training them  for agricultural careers. However, because of the will’s complexity, an  acceptable proposal for the use of the estate did not come before the  Equity Court until 1963. In 1963, the Presbyterian Church was awarded  Alexander’s Estate under a proposal designed by Edward Alan Hunt, law  agent for the Church. Hunt’s association with the College became his  dominant work and passion during the remaining twenty years of his  life.  The Church commissioned Ian McKay and Philip Cox, architects, to  design the College buildings.

In 1965, the College buildings gained the Sulman and Blacket Awards  for Architecture, the first fifteen students were enrolled, and Sir  Robert Menzies opened the C B Alexander Presbyterian Agricultural  College. The Church managed the College until 1970 when it was  transferred to the State as the CB Alexander Agricultural College,  Tocal. This coincided with the passing of the C B Alexander Foundation  Act, 1969.

The Tocal property has increased through various land purchases  since the College commenced - Athcourt Farm, Glendarra, Bona Vista,  Dunnings Hill, Clements Farm and Numeralla. It is now 2,200 hectares.

Key advances have been admittance of females in 1972, additional  buildings in 1974, 1987, 1994, 1996 and 1997, commencement of dairy  apprenticeships in 1980, relocation of NSW Agriculture’s Home Study  program to Tocal in 1981, starting Tocal Field Days in 1984, adoption  of a problem-based learning curriculum in 1985, public access to Tocal  Homestead in 1987, commencement of Rural Traineeships in 1994,  Certificate of Landcare in 1995, National Rural Business Management  Program in 1996 and the Diploma in Landcare and Natural Resources in  2000, the launch of the Tocal Agricultural Centre and the Tocal Visitor  Centre (allowing regular weekend access to Tocal Homestead) in 2002 and  designation as a Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Education in  2003. The CB Alexander Agricultural College consolidated with  Murrumbidgee College of Agriculture to become one Registered Training  Organisation in 2006, known as Tocal College. The College now operates as the CB Alexander Campus at Tocal and the Yanco Campus (formerly Murrumbidgee Rural Studies Centre).

NSW Department of Primary Industries runs the College, assisted in  many different ways by the CB Alexander FoundationFriends of Tocal,  Tocal Students Association, Tocal Alumni (encompassing the former ex-students association), Tocal Field Days Association, and the Tocal College Advisory Council.

Tocal history

Find out more on Tocal's history through a gallery of images dating back to c1880s through the Reynolds, Alexander and Curtis family collections.

Tocal Old Building

Cultural heritage

The Tocal property has a long history and evidence remaining across the site tells us about the people who have lived and farmed here. Find out more about Tocal's cultural heritage.