Between Harwood and Woodburn, on the busy Pacific Highway, is an intriguing Rest Area that commemorates the historic village of New Italy.
In 1880 Italians in the Veneto area were hoodwinked into moving to a new 'Eden' in modern day Papua New Guinea.
Of course it was all a scam and many of the emigrants perished. Their survival became a cause celebre and with the help of Henry Parkes they were rescued and relocated to "Australia". Land was allocated to the unfortunate group in Northern New South Wales.
The site of 'New Italy' was sandy hills and swamps, very poor country that that no-one else wanted. However, they persevered and built substantial homes and grew very productive gardens.
Today there is very little left of the original settlement. A number of buildings have been sensitively recreated. They contain a series of excellent museums and a shady vine covered cafe. The courtyard contains a series of kitschy statues.
It is certainly worth a stop for a good coffee,a browse through the displays and the recognition of the many connections Northern NSW has with Italy.
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