South and North Rosedale were originally cleared for grazing in the latter part of the 19th century. There were very few buildings prior to the second world war. In the 1950s the council approved a subdivision plan by Miller, a builder, in which many blocks were below 600 m². Notwithstanding this subdivision, Rosedale is one of very few seaside settlements in Australia where the bush is more prominent than the buildings.
Rosedale Farm was first settled by James Sebbens, while the western end of the valley was settled by Karl Thomsen. Both men cleared the bush to establish their farms.
The father of James, also called James Sebbens was born in Essex in 1814. He was transported as a convict on the ‘John Barry’ in 1838 and was assigned to serve his time at Broulee. He received his certificate of freedom in 1848. In 1851 he married Celia Ann Barlings. Celia had arrived at Broulee from England with her parents in 1832 at the age of four. The Sebbens family lived in the Tomakin area on a property called Oaks Ranch, southwest of Candlagan Creek. They had 14 children. James Sebbens died in 1876 and is buried at Moruya. His widow married Henry Rose (1820-1906), who is buried at Mogo.
Cecilia’s father, Richard Henry Barling, who was a free overseer, formalised his conditional purchase of portion 5 in 1852. Portion 5 is now the site of the Barlings Beach caravan park.
Joseph Sebbens, the eldest son of James and Cecilia, operated a steam mill at Malua Bay in the latter part of the 1800s with the help of his brother, William. This mill had been originally set up at Tomakin by a Robert Jennings in 1874 but was salvaged and moved by Joseph after Jennings abandoned it in the 1880s.
James Sebbens (junior), born 1858, cleared and developed Rosedale and parts of Burri/Guerilla Bay. His wife's brother (maybe father?), Karl Thomsen, cleared all of portions 32, 213 and 221.
A surveyor's report of 1884 noted that there were two acres (0.81 ha) of cleared land, 38 acres (15 ha) of land with ring-barked trees, and a house. Sebbens cleared all the land in portions 81, 214, 215 and most of 98, although it is not clear whether he cleared right to the cliff edge at what is now called North Rosedale. While significant regrowth has occurred, particularly during the last decades, the distinction in tree height and density can be seen.
From 1870 to 1908 the Sebbens family developed a farm of 700 acres (280 ha). They owned 430 acres (170 ha) and occupied (with no title) another 285 acres (115 ha) of the land they farmed. They were mainly dairy farmers producing cheddar cheese. A set of old bails remains from this period near the creek downhill from the present farmhouse.
The farmhouse burnt down in the late nineteenth century. The present day farmhouse was constructed from two existing houses.
In 1908 the Sebbens family sold to Herman Nibbe and moved to western Sydney where they farmed poultry. At the time of the sale the property was consolidated into one title under freehold with all the conditional purchase areas being converted.
Nibbe had tried to farm sheep as well as maintaining production of cheddar. In financial difficulty he sold the property in 1913 but continued to farm under lease until 1921. Horace Benjamin O’Neil purchased the farm in 1921. The farm was starting to become less productive as the soils were not good and became depleted once the trees were cleared.
The first car in the district was an International Motor Buggy purchased in 1908 by Adolf Thomsen, a grazier at Tomakin. (The car is still owned by a Batemans Bay family.) The development of better transport through the availability of motor cars opened up the area.
In the early 1970s, rumours were surfacing that a caravan park and general store might be going to be built within the Rosedale vicinity.
This set off a number of concerns that building of commercial and business-style enterprises might not accurately represent the wishes of the residents. It was decided that an effective method of discussion and consultation with the local Shire Council and other authorities was needed, or the area's natural appeal could be lost.
A public meeting of Rosedale residents was called and was attended by about 120 people. This was the birth of the Association, with about 90 per cent of Rosedale households becoming members. The original gathering was known as the Rosedale Progress Association.
Over the years, the Association has evolved to become a legally incorporated organisation (The Rosedale Association Inc). We have become more proficient in taking up issues with relevant government and corporate entities, to communicate the wishes of the community and maintain and enhance the attractiveness of the hamlet of Rosedale.