Before European settlement the area that is now Dorrigo was inhabited by the Gumbaynggirr. European settlement of the area followed on from the early timber cutters in the 1860s. The first official European in the district was Land Commissioner Oakes who sighted the mouth of the Bellinger River.
Dorrigo is derived from the Aboriginal word, dondorrigo, meaning "stringy-bark". For many decades it was believed that explorer and settler Major Edward Parke named the region after a Spanish General named Don Dorrigo with whom Peake fought in the Peninsula War.www.dorrigo.com