Tocal Publications

Tocal College offers a large range of publications on all aspects of agriculture and land management.  They are a valuable educational tool and most are available as ebooks.  There is a full list of agricultural books for sale on the Tocal College website.  Below you will find the ‘All about Tocal’ series of publications which consists of 32 books covering all aspects of Tocal history including the people, convicts, heritage values, the buildings and the bushrangers.

Postage charges: Up to 1.6kg $10, 1.7-8kg $15, 8.1-16kg $20 and over 16.1kg items $30.

Overseas postage will be charged at cost.

PHONE 02 4939 8901 TO PLACE YOUR ORDERS (prices incl GST)

Captain thunderbolt

This book on the infamous outlaw, Fred Ward, alias Captain Thunderbolt, offers a fresh view of a fascinating period of colonial NSW in the mid 1800s. Fred Ward worked on Tocal as a horsebreaker and went on to forge the legend of Thunderbolt the bushranger – a legend which continues to grow 130 years after his death.


Conservation of timber buildings

This book shares the unique experience and knowledge gained through the conservation of timber buildings and fences at Tocal during the late 1980s and through the 1990s. This conservation has brought back to life one of the most amazing colonial farm sites in Australia.

Covers conservation, safety, environment, materials, equipment and tools, techniques and case studies.


Tocal visitor centre

The Tocal visitor centre – new use for an old shed! This book documents the amazing and skilled conversion of a 19th century hay shed into a visitor centre while preserving the look, feel and heritage of the original shed. An exemplary and inspiring case study in the adaptive re-use of a heritage building.


Guide to Tocal

A magnificent pictorial guide to the Tocal estate and the CB Alexander Agricultural College. An enduring keep-sake for those who have visited or a primer for those still to make the trip. Great value! 48 pages in full colour.


This book is also available FREE from the iBookstore to download or from Google Play.

The soils of Tocal

This publication provides detailed information on the soils of the Tocal property. A most useful education resource for curricula in agriculture and soil sciences.


Colonial silo mysteries

This book unravels the mysteries of underground silos at Tocal, Cockatoo Island, Stroud, Norfolk Island and Camden Park. It develops a picture of grain storage in Colonial NSW and explains the silos in this context. A facinating book, well researched and easy to read. Lots of photos.


The climate of Tocal

This book gives a thorough outline of the climate at Tocal and the wider Paterson district.


This book is available for sale through NSW DPI – Tocal. More information and order online.

Aboriginal land use at Tocal

The Wonnarua story

This full colour book shows how indigenous people used the Tocal land before European settlement.


This book is available for sale through NSW DPI – Tocal. More information and order online.

Tocal code of land use practice

This book shows how the issues of biodiversity, pollution and weed control, management of wetlands and waterways, and conservation of cultural heritage and landscape values aqre handled on a commerical sized property.


Available for sale through NSW DPI – Tocal College. More information and order online.

At home amongst the stock

The Kidds of Tocal

This 100 page book chronicles the lives of four generations of the Kidd family who lived and worked at Tocal. John Kidd arrived in NSW as a convict in 1829 and set about redeeming himself as a valued and skilled employee.

The book documents the fortunes of the Kidd dynasty as they married and wove their children’s lives into the Tocal story. They were truly “at home amongst the stock”.


Crimes of passion on the Tocal run

This 88 page book documents two gruesome killings on Tocal in the 1800s – one during a drunken fight between convicts in 1837 and the other, that of a nameless headless stockman in 1874.

The book nicely captures the mood and recounts the intrigue of turbulent times at Tocal. A compelling history of the period.


An eye for excellence

The Reynolds of Tocal

‘Tocal’ and ‘Reynolds’ became household words in New South Wales wherever Hereford and Devon cattle or thoroughbred horses were discussed.

This 120 page book traces the spirited and enterprising partnership of the pioneers Charles Reynolds and Francis Dun and their years at Tocal. It also records details of the descendants of this gifted and respected family.


The vegetation of Tocal

This book is the first attempt to describe, classify and map the vegetation communities on Tocal.

In conducting a thorough survey of the property, the authors have discovered and described feature of the property that are little known by anyone not working daily with the Tocal landscape.


Three days in May

This 48 page book records the twenty five year history of the Tocal Field Days, from its modest beginnings in 1984 to a premier agricultural event in the Hunter Valley that attracts crowds of around 30,000 people each year.


Who was CB Alexander?

This book brings to life the fascinating story of CB Alexander. It tells how his family migrated from the slums of Glasgow to the goldfields of Victoria. They made their fortune in business before buying land and eventually moving to the Hunter Valley of NSW.

When Charles died in 1947 his bequest led to the establishment of what is now the CB Alexander Campus of Tocal College.


An introduction to the Tocal farms

When visitors come to Tocal, it is impossible to convey all the details of the many activities that occur daily on a working farm. This booklet fills the gaps and answers some of the common questions asked by first-time visitors.


Voices from Tocal

Convict life on a rural estate

Reveals the lives of the 140 men and boys who were convicts at Tocal between 1822 and 1840. Includes working conditions and lifestyle, rewards and punishments, their struggle for freedome and what became of them.

This ground-breaking book provides important insights into convict life on rural estates.


James Phillips Webber

The man and the mystery

The fascinating story of the young gentleman who was granted Tocal in 1822 and quickly made his mark as a magistrate and convict master before selling Tocal in 1834 amid controversy with Governor Bourke.

His story has remarkable connections to world history including slavery, the American war of independence, Garibaldi and Mussolini.


The Paterson at war

The revealing story of the Paterson district’s involvement in major world conflicts (Boer War, the so-called Great War, and WWII). It includes anecdotes and memories of those who served at home and abroad.

The history of a major gunnery observation post (still standing) at Tocal is recorded in the participants’ own words.


The people of Tocal 1822-2010

This book lists all those who have worked at Tocal College for a year or more between 1965 and 2010. It also lists and provides brief details on many who lived or worked on the Tocal property from 1822, until the start of the College era in 1965.

This book is available at no cost from the College office at Paterson for staff and those associated with the property.


Women in the history of Tocal

An outline of our knowledge of some of the women and girls who lived on or near Tocal, starting with the Indigenous era and spanning convict and later times up to the present.

The book also features some fictional recreations of how life could have been for those women and girls. Included is a listing of Tocal women from 1822 to 1965.


Tocal College, CB Alexander campus

Development and history

Records the birth and growth of the CB Alexander Campus of Tocal College, starting with the vision of the architects Philip Cox and Ian McKay. Includes details of building themes and materials, the landscape, construction and modifications.


Convict tools

Convicts are a fascinating part of Australia’s history, but has their role been over-dramatised and distorted?

This book brings to life the day to day working lives of convicts in private assignment. In particular, life and work on Belgenny Farm at Camden Park near Sydney, and the Tocal estate in the lower Hunter Valley where large numbers of convicts were assigned.


This book is available for sale through NSW DPI – Tocal. More information and order online.

Tocal - the changing moods of a rural estate

This book records the history, beauty and character of Tocal Homestead, its outbuildings and surrounding estate. A unique and colourful look at one of Australia’s most intact groups of colonial buildings.


The years between

A detailed coverage of the administration of the estate of CB Alexander between 1947 and 1964 which led to the establishment of the CB Alexander Presbyterian Agricultural College, now the CB Alexander Campus of Tocal College.


Maitland on the hunter

The only history of Maitland in print. Learn why Maitland was for ecades the largest town in NSW outside of Sydney. Covers Aboriginal and early European history, through to recent times. Includes flood data from 1820 to 2000 never before published. Comprehensive references and index. A ‘good read’ and a great gift for anyone interested in local or Australian history.


You can also buy this as an ebook for your iPad

Tocal's first European settler - James Phillips Webber

This book records the early European history of Tocal from its first settlement in 1822 until 1835. It includes details of early agriculture, convict issues and local history. 90 pages including colour plates of heritage items from the period, plus an extensive bibliography.


Lost and unseen

Tocal’s heritage provides fascinating evidence of the changing character of agriculture, working conditions, lifestyle and society from the convict era through to the 21st century. Yet many items of historical interest at Tocal are hidden from view, inaccessible or hard to find. There are also items that have not stood the test of time and now exist only as ruins or archaeological evidence which is visible on some sites but undiscernible on others. Together these items comprise lost and unseen Tocal.



Tocal's master plan and heritage significance

Part one of this book contains Tocal’s Master Plan that was completed in 2013 – further information on the background to the Master Plan is provided at the start of the part. Part two consists of the thematic histories of Tocal Homestead, the property and the College that were written as components of Tocal’s Conservation Management Plan which was endorsed by the NSW Heritage Office in 2014. These short histories are statements of significance that align to recognised, standard New South Wales and national heritage themes. The histories record the evidence as to why Tocal is so significant to the State and nation.


Tocal's practical advantage

This book traces the history of Tocal College, and explores the reasons why Tocal has thrived since it was established 50 years ago, while many agricultural training institutions have declined.

In the early years, Tocal was in many ways a smaller brother. But to survive, Tocal had to adapt. This required flexibility, a willingness to innovate, a pioneering spirit, the support of the stakeholders and above all, political savvy.

It is a credit to the leadership of its Principals over the past 50 years that Tocal has not only adapted, but seized the initiative. It has transformed from a regional, residential-based institution to an industry-based, national training hub. It is embedded as an indispensible part of NSW Department of Primary Industries; a significant state asset with a strong national profile.


This book is also available FREE from the iBookstore to download and read on your iPad or iPhone.

50 years of Tocal College - a celebration in photos


The celebration of 50 years of an institution’s history is important. An institution like Tocal College is all about people and being an organisation which has specialised in vocational education for adolescents, it has great meaning for those who have passed through it and those who have worked at it.

Photographs can tell much more than words and as you go through this publication you will gain some idea as to how special Tocal College has been to so many people. Tocal has a real sense of place engendered through a landscape of great beauty, a lovely river, its own creek valley and rolling hills, river flats, and timbered gorges.

This book gives a small window into what has occurrred on the Tocal property for the past 50 years.

74 pages with extensive photos that tell the story.


Battered to Boutique

By the mid 1960s, the Barracks at Tocal Homestead were in a dilapidated state. The roof had fallen in, and a small tree poked its crown above the wall in the south-west corner of the building. Something had to be done to save this 130 year-old piece of Tocal history. This book with photos is the story of the Barracks’ journey from battered to boutique.

Owner of Tocal 1834 - 1838

Caleb Wilson owned Tocal from 1834 until his death in November 1838. It then passed to his son, Felix.

This biography follows the life of Caleb Wilson from his birth in England until his death 70 years later in Sydney.

He led an extraordinary life, becoming a very wealthy man through hard work and shrewd decision making. His life is an important window into the life of the people of New South Wales from 1804 to 1838.

Read more in the media release about Tocal’s one-time squire – Caleb Wilson.


Tocal College's 50th year

50 years of agricultural education is a milestone worth celebrating. And what a year! One of the biggest floods to strike Tocal; the Field Days cancelled for the first time it its history; a year of frenetic training and development; and a change of leadership.

A ‘Back to Tocal’ weekend provided the opportunity for past students and others associated with the College to reconnect. And we saw the formation of the Tocal Alumni.

This book perfectly captures some of these moments and events in a landmark year of the College.


Felix Wilson Owner of Tocal 1838-1865

The Tocal Homestead and its environs, as we see it today, owe much to Felix Wilson who built the magnificent house and invested in the development of the property up until his death in 1865. The effects of his Will meant that the site was well managed and maintained by the Reynolds family until well into the Twentieth century. The property was then purchased by the Reynolds family.


The Tocal land and its people before and after 1822

2022 marks 200 years since the first European settler, James Weber, took the land grant that became Tocal. In that one act of possession, the landscape, managed and maintained by Aboriginal people for many centuries, was changed forever. 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.


This book is also available FREE to download from Google Play