THE ruins of his grand country mansion by the lake which bears his name provide a fascinating glimpse into the past, but who was Archibald Clunes Innes ?
At the height of his fame and fortune during the 1830s, he was one of Australia's richest colonists.
Innes owned Innestown on the Manning River and Yarrows (Yarras) on the Hastings River. He was one of the first squatters in the New England district when, in 1836, he held Waterloo Station.
Some of his other New England properties included Kentucky Station, Beardy Plains, Dundee Station and Furracabad Station. Furracabad station was subsequently the site of the town of Glen Innes, which was named after him and laid out in 1851.
Lake Innes House was constructed using convict labour in several stages between 1831 and 1843. It grew to assume the proportions of a grand country mansion.
Lake Innes is located near Lake Cathie between Port Macquarie and Bonny Hills.
The extensive ruins that remain comprise one of the oldest surviving brick structures in northern NSW, and present a highly significant part of Australia’s convict and colonial heritage
Today, the ruins are classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW) and guided tours can be booked through the Port Macquarie Information Centre. Access to the site is by guided tour only
Born in 1799 he was a soldier and pastoralist from Thrumster, Caithness, Scotland. When he arrived in Australia in 1822 he was a captain in the Third Regiment (Buffs), on the ship Eliza, in charge of 170 convicts.
Innes was a commandant at the Port Macquarie penal settlement from November 1826 to April 1827. He then spent time in Sydney as brigade major before becoming a superintendent of police and magistrate at Parramatta, until 1829.
Captain Innes returned in 1830 and settled on his grant of 2,568 acres (1,039 ha) of land near Port Macquarie where the 22-room Lake Innes house was built.
As his wealth grew he spread his interests. In his first few years at Lake Innes he produced the first sugar grown in the district. He acquired sheep and cattle stations all over northern NSW.
In 1837 Innes had 85 convicts working for him at Port Macquarie. His wife Margaret, (daughter of Alexander Macleay), was also an early grantee and received land at Crottys Plains on the Wilson River near Rollands Plains.
He was largely responsible for the building of a road from Port Macquarie to the New England district.
However, in the 1840s credit squeeze, he lost just about everything and became bankrupt in 1852. He was later an assistant gold commissioner and magistrate at Nundle and later police magistrate at Newcastle.
Archibald Innes died at Newcastle on August 29, 1857. He was buried in Christ Church Cathedral Cemetery in Newcastle, but his headstone was transferred in the 1960s to Port Macquarie in the town's Pioneer Cemetery.