Carl Frederick Doepel (pictured) was was a seaman, shipping agent, boat builder and sawmiller born in Kristinestead, Finland in 1854 into a farming family , but as a young man went to sea. Taking his second name, Frederick deserted from the “Mermaid” in Sydney in 1870, later joining a coastal vessel operating on the North Coast. Arriving on the Bellinger River in 1878 he operated droghers
[ paddle wheel punts ] carting timber and produce to the Bellinger Heads for shipment on ocean-going vessels. Selectors had been moving into the area since 1864, farming, timber getting and maize growing.
In 1884 Frederick converted his largest drogher to a sea-going vessel naming it “Surprise” and despite local skepticism as to it’s seaworthiness, it successfully traded the coast for nine years.
Frederick married Mary Ann McNally, the daughter of early settler and Irish immigrant Henry McNally in 1886, and built his first vessel, the ketch “Bellinger” the same year. It was wrecked off the Queensland coast in 1892.
When the North Coast Steam Navigation Co. was established in 1891 Frederick became the local agent.
Frederick’s third vessel, the “Violet Doepel”, a two masted topsail schooner was launched in 1898 and named after his eldest daughter.
The “Alma Doepel” was launched in 1903 and named after his youngest daughter who was born in the same year.
Frederick established his sawmill here at East Bellingen about 1903, and eventually died from injuries in an accident at the mill on 31st July, 1929, at the age of 75. The mill operation was continued by the Doepel Family until 1952.