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In 1822 a young James Webber, recently arrived in the Colony, took up his land grant on the Paterson River. In that one act of possession, the landscape, managed and maintained by Aboriginal people for many centuries, was changed forever.

James and his convict crew carved out a European-style agricultural enterprise by exploiting the rich diversity of the land. In a nod to the earlier custodians, he named his estate ‘Tocal’, an aboriginal word for ‘plenty’.

Through toil and enterprise, successive owners grew rich on the Tocal lands, until, in 1965, private ownership ceased, and a new agricultural college was born on the site. That college, now retaining the name given to the land by its original custodians, grew into a thriving educational centre, with tentacles of training reaching throughout the nation.

2022 marks a significant milestone in the history of the land. This brief overview of its story—including the millennia before dispossession—has been compiled by four authors with over 170 years of combined memories associated with Tocal College and recording its agriculture and its history.

Over its history, Tocal has touched many families and many lives, and it continues to expand its reach, including to the descendants of its original peoples who cared for and respected its resources. This book in a small way pays homage to all of those lives.


Part A Aboriginal Tocal and European Contact

1 First Australians in the Paterson Valley .

2 Aboriginal land management and land use at Tocal

3 Aboriginal and European contact

Part B Europeans farming the Tocal lands

4 Tocal’s agriculture under Webber 1822-1834

5 Wilson era 1834-1865

6 Reynolds dynasty 1844-1926

7 Alexander era 1926-1947

8 Curtis era and a slumbering estate 1947-1963

Part C An agricultural college on the Tocal lands

9 The College is born and the lands are developed

10 Timeline of College developments

11 The Tocal lands in 2022

12 The College in 2022




Title          The Tocal land and its people before and after 1822       
Author(s)          David Brouwer, Brian Walsh, Jennifer Laffan and Cameron Archer         
Pages          80         
ISBN          978-0-9946250-5-2         
Catalogue number          B994         
Year published          2022         
Publisher          CB Alexander Foundation         
Price          $22.00AUD (inc GST)

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    Phone: 02 4939 8901 International: +61 2 4939 8901
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    Click here to fill out the order form Cat No.L B994 - Price $22.00 Tocal College, CB Alexander Campus, Paterson NSW 2421