In 1901 and 1905 James Buckley and his brother Daniel purchased the land we know today as ‘Killalea’ from Emily Savage.
James farmed the northern end of the park and lived at the “Seaview” household, where the Fraser family later lived. James built a pit sawn house in the early 1900’s for his family, and in 1912 the “Seaview” farmhouse was extended. James served as an Alderman on Shellharbour Municipal Council and was Mayor for 3 years. He married Maude Raftery and they had seven children.
Daniel Buckley farmed the southern end of Killalea State Park, near where the camping ground is today. He was 19 years old when he arrived in Australia from Ireland. He farmed at Shellharbour for many years and was also an Alderman on the council from 1868-1871. His wife Elizabeth (nee Murphy) died when she was young and Daniel raised their five children on his own.
It is assumed that Daniel also built a house for his family near todays camping ground. Remains of the house site, garden remnants, fairy footings and those of the outbuildings are all that remain today.
In later years this farm was named ‘Lamarra’ and then ‘Watsonia’. The road into Watsonia was built by Charlie Graham and Jack Byrne in about 1915. The original road and fence posts are still visible today. The Buckley brothers eventually ended up in Queensland and their land at Killalea was leased for a time.
The Fraser family moved to James Buckley’s original property in the 1920’s and farmed ‘Seaview’, later renamed ‘Killalea’ until the late 1950’s to early 1960’s. The NRMA purchased Daniel Buckley’s original property in 1926 and opened up a camping ground for its members. The property with farmhouse was named ‘Lamarra’ at the time of purchase, and then the NRMA renamed it ‘Watsonia’.
The NRMA leased the site to many families including the King’s, Condon’s, and the Mason’s. It is assumed these families lived in Daniel Buckley’s old home in between the fig trees at the camping ground. This campground only lasted twelve months as the sand flies were so bad people could not bear them.