The town was slow to grow. In 1868 the only residents were the Pilot, his four boatmen and their families. By 1888 they had been joined by the dredge crews and there were 12 residences at Bellinger Heads. By 1900 there was a public school (opened in 1889 with 80 students), a general store, a post office, a hotel, a butcher’s shop, a church and a School of Arts (the last two buildings built by the Pilot Station staff). Apart from the Pilot and his men and the dredge and tug crews, the main industries were the Ellis saw mill and the quarry and breakwall construction works. Tourists began to arrive too, with a Sydney Morning Herald article in 1905 headed “Out of the Beaten Path” describing Bellinger Heads as “a picturesque little seaport and ideal smuggler’s refuge”. By the 1920s, after the Great Northern Railway was opened, Urunga had become a popular holiday destination especially for fishermen. A diving tower was built in the lagoon in the 1920s and its six piers are still visible today, vantage points for the local pelicans.
By 1960 there were nearly 1000 residents and holiday makers were a major source of revenue. Today Urunga is still a beautiful, quiet little town, blessed by beautiful beaches, excellent fishing, fresh air and the quiet background roar of the waves on the bar.