11 August 2016 Korff Family Visit Museum

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11 August 2016 Korff Family Visit Museum

A descendant of John Korff – the ship-owner and builder after whom Coffs Harbour is named – made a special visit to Coffs Harbour’s Regional Museum on Thursday, 11 August, to view the important Korff Collection.

“This was very exciting for the Museum and the city,” said Cath Fogarty, the Cultural Development, Gallery and History Services Coordinator. “Patti Mackenzie brought some family heirlooms to show us – including a sketch book used by Captain Korff on his return voyage from Coffs Harbour and a quilt made by John Korff’s granddaughter Yda Korff in the late 1890s.

“The Korff Collection is the most significant of our collections so to be able to see some other items he owned was fascinating,” added Ms Fogarty. “It is a direct link back to the city’s ‘founder’ and to possibly the first European to arrive by sea on this part of the coast. We were delighted to show Mrs Mackenzie, whose late husband Robin was John Korff’s great great grandson, our collection and the Museum.”


John Korff left Lowestoft in the UK in 1835 for a new life in Australia and set up a shipbuilding company in Sydney.

In 1847, Captain Korff and his crew took shelter from a storm in what is now the Harbour and he and his sons, Frederick and Gordon, went ashore. He named it Korff’s Harbour. In 1861, Korff’s was name was spelt incorrectly as ‘Coffs’ in a government Gazette and, as a result of this mistake, the area became known as Coffs Harbour. 

The Museum’s Korff Collection contains telescopes, letters, memorabilia, mid nineteenth-century business cards and daguerreotypes (early photographs) of John Korff’s family.

Coffs Harbour Regional Museum​ in Harbour Drive is open Tuesday to Saturdays from 10am to 4pm.