The valley of the Williams River was home to scores of generations of the Gringai people before grantees employing convict labour began to establish farms for sheep, cattle and crops such as wheat and corn in the 1830s.
Dungog’s streets, Dowling, Mackay, Hooke, Brown, Lord, Myles, etc., were named after landowners at the time surveyor Rusden drew up his generous 1838 plan of Dungog. The new settlement, a day’s journey from the head of navigation at Clarence Town, soon developed as a service centre for its surrounding agricultural settlements.
As the 19th century progressed Dungog prospered along with the growth especially of the timber and dairying industries, further boosted by the arrival of the railway in 1911. With its own hospital, cinema, and railway, tourism also began to develop as a feature of the local economy as early as the 1920s, with the Barrington Guest House providing a focus that is still remembered today.
The gradual decline of both the dairying and timber industries has made Dungog ever more dependent upon those attracted to its natural and historical beauties as both tourists and those seeking a more permanent escape from urban stresses flock to this charming town.