Former army officer Archibald Clunes Innes established Lake Innes Estate, a vast pastoral property about 11 kilometres west of Port Macquarie, in the 1830s. Inspired by the country estates of England’s gentry, Innes and his wife, Margaret, built a grand house with a rich garden and large lake, surrounded by verdant bush and with walking paths to nearby beaches. The estate became central to the social lives of Port Macquarie’s well-to-do.
In 1843 Archibald’s 16-year-old niece, Annabella Innes, together with her mother and sister, came to stay at Lake Innes Estate. For the next six years, Annabella kept a diary recording her environment, noting observations of daily life and social activities, describing noteworthy events and commenting on the botanical specimens she collected and painted from the garden. Annabella later published the diary under her married name, Annabella Boswell, while living in Scotland.