In the 1850’s, Robert Wilson and his wife Sarah operated the Tullimbar Store in the Macquarie Valley. The business was eventually taken over by his step-daughter Jane and her husband Joseph Dunster.
Robert and Sarah moved to Shellharbour Village where Robert opened his steam flourmill, built of local basalt stone and powered by a 10 horsepower steam engine. By the 1860s the local grown wheat was attacked with rust disease which brought about the abandonment of wheat growing in coastal areas. Robert carried on the business at the mill for ten years before advertising it for sale.
In 1921, the old stone mill building fell into a dilapidated and dangerous condition. Alderman Burns of Shellharbour Council regrettably supported the move to demolish the mill saying ‘he was sorry to realise it was necessary in the public safety to demolish an old historical landmark, in the first mill for grinding of wheat erected in the district’. (Kiama Independent 23rd April 1921). The building was demolished in 1922 and the Shellharbour Tennis Club used the site as a rotunda for their tennis courts. By 1986 the site became a picnic and recreation area.
By 1880, Robert Wilson was living at Oak Flats on a dairy farm. His obituary in the Kiama Independent 19 July 1881 lamented his passing as, ‘one of the first pioneers of the district and for a number of years during the wheat-growing time kept the mill in Shellharbour, also carrying on business as a storekeeper which he relinquished a few years since on account of Mrs. Sarah Wilson’s health failing, and settling down on a farm in the Oak Flats, where his death took place. He leaves a widow, son and daughter’.
His stepdaughter Jane Dunster, died just one week before him.