Sunday, 18 March 2018

To have, or not to have, a home library?

I bought a quirky book this week, ‘Looking in to a Library’, written by my fellow member of the GSV Writers Circle, William Barlow, known to us as Bill. Reading his short compendium (72 pages for $20, available by contacting the author direct) made me think, which I like to do. His book prompted me to lift my game in managing my own books.

One of the joys of reading is savouring the experience of opening a door into another person’s mind. Thanks to his book, containing 42 sets of observations on the books in his personal library, I feel that I know Bill a little better. We share the love of picking up a physical book and turning the page, each book with its own shape, texture and smell, but we ask ourselves, will books survive the digital age?

Just like Bill, I’ve been wondering what will happen to my books after I draw my final breath. What will my daughter do with them? Bill has inspired me to create an action plan – at least in terms of identifying the books which should be kept within the family. Note to self - I must attach a list of these books to my will!

I discovered a like mind in Bill’s keeping of a list of the books he’s read. But his lists go back decades, while mine started in 2011. His life has clearly been more settled than mine, enabling systems to be maintained more easily.

Like Bill, I enjoy the luxury of having my own writing room containing a small library, but my little study can’t compare with Bill’s generous space. I need to climb the library ladder to reach the top shelf. Many of the shelves are double-stacked. The little desk you see in this picture is the desk I used as a schoolgirl and now use for sorting paperwork. My working desk on the other side of the room has a view over the street. Built-in cupboards on either side of the window store all my family history folders. A cupboard in another room stores numerous photo albums.

Unlike Bill, I don’t know how many actual published books I own, either in total or by genre.

My own attempts to establish a sorting system for the books on my own shelves always fail because I run out of room on the right shelf. I end up shoving a newly-acquired book into any bit of vacant space. Next time I need it, I can’t remember where I put it. I’m sure that doesn’t happen to Bill.

The only books which are easy to lay my hands on when I want them are my cook books, which are stored in a separate cabinet near my kitchen. Every now and then I consult one for a recipe. My collection of children’s books are also easy to find, on a set of book shelves in the room where my four grandchildren sleep when they visit, but I don’t know why I bothered to keep these books for so many decades. The children spurn them, complaining about the small font size and the lack of white space on the pages. However they loved ‘Seven Little Australians’ when I read it aloud to them.

My reading tastes are as eclectic as Bill’s, if somewhat different in specific areas. Bill is obviously a collector, whereas I would describe myself as a simple devourer of reading material. Being of a similar age, we have traversed much the same reading ground in our adult years- the women’s movement, the sexual revolution, the era of pop psychology, travel books. I also share some of Bill’s rather highbrow tastes – books for wordsmiths, philosophical works, expositions of mathematical theories, history books, art and architecture books. We diverge in other subject areas. For example, finance and economics have a place on my bookshelves but not on his. Many of my novels are ‘literary’, and many are written by Australian authors, just like Bill's, but he would not approve of my collection of Lee Child thrillers, or the Mills & Boons I acquired as a member of a romance-writing group.

We share a love of walking into the world’s libraries but Bill goes further and says he can’t resist a bookshop, whereas I become overwhelmed at having to choose from the deluge of titles on offer. Rather than browse, I prefer to enter a bookshop with a specific title in mind.

Thank you Bill, it was good to read the product of an ordered mind. Your black & white pen drawings add a nice architect’s touch to the pages. Anyone who has a stash of books at home will benefit from reading your book and will be inspired to ponder: 'To have, or not to have?'.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Hawkesbury Family History Tour, Part 2

The itinerary for this self-drive tour of the Hawkesbury, outlined below, follows on from my previous post and has been designed for the numerous descendants of my convict forebears Robert Forrester, Paul Bushell, David Brown & Charles Homer Martin. As with Part 1, it requires an early start, and no dawdling along the way, but gives a quick overview of the geographic setting of the lives led by these men and their wives and families. You can 'hop. skip and jump' in their footsteps and later come back again to walk more slowly across particular sites of interest.

Part 2 of this self-drive tour begins at historic Thompson Square, Windsor, on the crest of the hill at the northern end of George St. You will be familiar with the Square from Part 1 of the Tour.

Bushell Country

At Thompson Square follow the main road straight ahead at the roundabout, dropping down the hill to the narrow bridge across the  Hawkesbury River and continue along the main road towards Singleton. About 5 km along Wilberforce Road, just before Buttsworth Creek and adjacent to the go-kart track, on either side of the road, is the land first farmed by Paul Bushell, around 1800.

Past Buttsworth Creek, if you drive into the Caravan Park and drive to the end, you can view the Wilberforce Reach of the Hawkesbury River and imagine the flood devastations which visited the area regularly in the early years of European settlement. 
Wilberforce Reach, 2010
Back on Wilberforce Rd, a little further along on the right hand side, on the corner of Rose St where the Veterinary surgery is located, is the higher patch of land bought by Paul Bushell around 1801 as a home site to escape the floods.
Paul Bushell's 1801 home site, in 2018
If you turn into Rose St, behind the hotel is historic Rose Cottage which you can visit (entry fee is payable) if you wish to gain insights into the past, although there are no specific family references here. The Australiana Pioneer Village is also located in Rose St and has great reviews on Trip Advisor. Both places have limited opening hours.

Continuing along Wilberforce Rd, turn left at the supermarket into King St.  The land on your left along King St and across the ridge line in Earle St was farmed by Paul Bushell from about 1804 to his death.  Starting from 43 Earle St (built on the old William Cross grant), Paul gradually acquired the land bounded by Earle Street and the Lagoon. The old timber cottage at 37 Earle Rd is the last visible remnant of Bushell heritage by the Lagoon, being the house built by Paul’s grandson David Oscar Bushell around 1910.

David Oscar Bushell's old house, 37 Earle Rd, Wilberforce, 2002
The site of Paul Bushell’s original house, where he lived for about 50 years and where he and his first wife Jane Sharp raised Isabella Jane Forrester, could be marked by the old trees on the block currently numbered as 29 Earle St. 

As you continue along Earle St and into Argyle Reach Rd, the old Lawrence grant commences on your right at the site, approximately, of 225A Argyle Reach Rd. Stopping here, you obtain one of the few views of the Bushells Lagoon.
Fred Smith's Old House, 225a Argyle Reach Rd, Wilberforce, 2002
Continuing carefully along the dirt surface of Argyle Reach Rd as far as the bridge over Buttsworth Creek and looking more or less in a straight line from there westwards, Paul’s land extended north of this line to the small lagoon near Gorricks Lane. Several vantage spots along the route you have just travelled allow some appreciation of the extent of his holdings. His stepson and four of his children continued to farm in this area for decades after his death – William Brown, David Bushell, Mary Becroft, Paul Bushell Jnr and Hannah Greentree.

Turn round at this point and retrace your path back to Wilberforce Road, turn left and continue to the Singleton Road/Putty Road bend, turn left up the hill, then right into George Road and drive along here until you come to Duke St. 

The town grid is based on ten acre sections, each once comprising three to five small farmlets, but now broken up into much smaller suburban sized blocks.  After you cross Castlereagh Rd, on your right hand side is Hawkins Place, taking up much of the land originally allotted to Paul Bushell, which was the middle farm of 3⅓ acres in this section of the town grid, stretching down to King St. There is no evidence that he ever lived on his town block.  Turn left at Duke St, then right at Macquarie Road. 

At the top of the rise, on the left and opposite the park, is the historic St John’s Church, with the Schoolhouse behind. 
St John's Church & Schoolhouse, Wilberforce, 2004
Spend some time walking around the church and schoolyard environs, then continue the drive to Church St, turn left and head up the hill, turn left again and park at the top of the cemetery, which is actually behind the church grounds but more easily accessed from the top.

Wilberforce Cemetery

There are numerous family graves of interest here, although many have suffered from weathering and from vandalism prior to the fencing of the cemetery. The main Brown/Bushell family vault, comprising an altar monument and the collapsed altar monument beside and below it, was restored in 2015 by a committee of family members. Slightly off-centre to the right in the picture, it is weathering well and blending in with the other headstones. Those buried in the family vault are highlighted in red in the list below the picture. The top slab is very weathered and hard to read and there are plans to erect a separate sign with the names listed.

Bushell/Brown Family Vault at Wilberforce Cemetery, 2018
To help you find the different graves, consult the plan of the cemetery affixed to the entry gate near the top corner of the cemetery. 
  • Becroft – Edward 1880 & Mary (née Bushell) 1904, Grave RR 11.06
  • Brown – David 1826 & Eleanor (née Fleming) 1865, Grave RR 07.21 (restored altar monument family vault)
  • Brown – Ann 1819, Grave RR 07.21 (beside & below the family vault)
  • Brown – David 1837 & Mary (née McGinnis) 1895, Grave RR 07.21 (restored altar monument family vault).
  • Brown – Selina 1847, Grave RR 07.21 (daughter of Henry, in restored altar monument family vault)
  • Brown – William (Bushell) 1875 & Sarah (née McGinnis) 1902 & children Phoebe Catherine 1905, Sarah Jane 1864, Paul Benjamin 1861, Alfred Ernest 1866. Only
  • Brown - David Charles, 1853, infant son of William, Grave RR 07.23. He is the only member of William Brown’s family commemorated with a surviving headstone at Wilberforce Cemetery. Possibly other family members are in same grave.
  • Brown - Joseph Walter 1935 & his wife Bridget Mary née Daley 1949, Grave LR01.07
  • Brown - William John 1854 (son of John), Grave RR06.12, next to sister Mary Ann Sarah Brown 1849, Grave RR06.13
  • Bushell – Paul 1853 & Isabella (née Brown) 1883, Grave RR 07.21 (restored altar monument family vault)
  • Bushell – Jane (née Sharp) 1820 (unmarked grave)
  • Bushell – David 1897 & Izetta (née Winton) 1878, Grave RR 08.07
  • Bushell – Paul 1911 & Eliza Mary (née Cobcroft) 1925 and sons Frederick Arthur 1901, Harry Oswald 1906, & grandson Ossie 1902, in adjoining graves RR 22.01 and 22.02
  • Bushell – Corah (née Becroft, first wife of Paul Bushell Jnr) 1865, Grave RR 07.21 (restored altar monument family vault)
  • Bushell - Albert Palmer 1913, Emily Jane 1892, Eleanor Isabella 1910, Charles Paul 1906 (unmarked graves)
  • Bushell – Ellen 1916, Grave RR 01.13
  • Chaseling – Eleanor (née Brown) 1866 & Thomas 1878 (unmarked graves)
  • Daley – John 1884 & Mary Ann (née Martin) 1911, son John Prosper 1882 & daughter Susannah Jane 1888, all in Grave RR 11.05. Son Henry Edward Daley 1931 in adjoining grave RR11.04.
  • Greentree – Robert 1880 & Hannah (née Bushell) 1893, and son Robert James Farlow 1868, Grave RR 17.13 (The headstone lying face down on ground mentions Robert and his son but not Hannah, whose grave is unmarked)
  • Martin – Charles Homer 1886 and Ann (née Forrester) 1888, Grave RR 20.08
  • Martin – Martha 1848 (unmarked grave)
  • Martin – William John 1912 & Mary (née Becroft) 1882, Grave RR 11.06
  • Nicholls – Frederick 1880 and Jane (née Martin) 1915 & daughter Elizabeth Ann 1936, Grave RR 10.03
  • Phillips – Thomas 1836 & Margaret (née Riley) 1838, Grave RR 24.03
Opposite the fenced off cemetery is the Wesleyan section, a quiet reflective place. There are plans to establish a Sacred Circle here, paying tribute to the early settlers whose graves in the Wilberforce Cemetery are unmarked (such as Paul Bushell's first wife Jane Sharp) and to the Aboriginal people of this district. 
Wesleyan Section, Wilberforce Cemetery, 2018
Keeping the Wilberforce Churchyard on your left hand side, drive along the ridgeline towards the Putty Rd, turn left and drive down the hill. Paul Bushell’s old land beside the Lagoon is to your right but mostly out of sight, especially in dry seasons. During her first marriage, his adopted daughter Isabella Jane Lovell also lived to your right, on the block adjoining Paul’s.

David Brown Territory

At the bottom, turn left at King Road along the road to Ebenezer and Sackville. Follow this road to Grono Farm Road, turn right and then immediately right again into Burdekin Road. After a sharp left turn, where the road overlooks Dunstan's Lagoon, all the land on your right was once owned by David Brown. These were the grants originally made to Waring, Fowkes, Baker and Roberts. Where Burdekin Road begins to cure round to the left is the land which was David Brown’s original land grant, stretching away towards the river, which is out of sight. It contains a number of houses and sheds. 
Houses on David Brown's Original Land Grants, c 2004
Continuing round the bend along Burdekin Road to the T-intersection, turn right into Grono Farm Road and continue along to the end. Much of the land on your right, as far as the first gully where it seems that a creek might once have flowed (once called Brown’s Creek), belonged to David Brown, being his second 35 acre grant and the grant of 90 acres for his children. Even today the land looks well situated and productive.

As you sweep around the bend in the road, you pass Sherrard’s old grant on the left and diagonally opposite the adjoining grants of Jacklin and Woodham. It is a scenic drive to the end of the road, at Grono Point, where you turn and drive back along Grono Point Road to Sackville Road, for another look over the expanse of land once owned by David Brown, Paul Bushell’s father-in-law. Turn right when you reach Sackville Road.

Ebenezer Church

The next destination is the little gem of a church at Ebenezer, the oldest place of continuous worship in Australia, and not to be missed. Follow Sackville Road to Tizzana Road. The Ebenezer Church turn-off to the right is well-marked, as is the turn into Coromandel Road where the church is located. 
Ebenezer Church & Schoolroom, c 2008
At the Ebenezer Church, be sure to view the wall plaque containing Paul Bushell’s name (inside the entrance vestibule). I pointed to a few errors on this plaque in a blog article I wrote in 2013. Walk around the church to the side entrance where Elizabeth Fleming’s wall plaque is located. Both can be seen even if the lovely little church is locked. The Church is one of the district's premier tourist attractions and Devonshire Tea is available until 3pm on most days, in an idyllic setting. A modern toilet block caters to the comfort of tourists.

You may care to take a short walk down to the rock platform overlooking the Hawkesbury River, or follow the track down to the river bank.

Only three headstones in the cemetery here are directly relevant:
  • Brown – John (son of David & Eleanor), 1906, wife Sarah, 1906, son Leslie Gordon, 1951, & daughter-in-law Alice, 1982
  • Bushell – Alfred Clendon (son of Paul & Eliza Mary Bushell, grandson of Paul & Isabella), 1954, wife Cora May, 1974
  • Bushell – Bertie William (brother of Alfred Clendon), 1933

None of the headstones are directly relevant to the Forrester or Martin families.

Returning to Tizzana Road and turning right, you will come to Prentis Lane off to the left. Do a U-turn at this point, and look across to your left towards the river. Somewhere on the land to your front left was the stone house once owned by David Brown.

Sackville/Portland Head

Return along Tizzana Road back to Sackville Road and turn right towards Sackville/Portland Head, where Richard and Margaret Ridge nee Forrester lived with their large family.  The specific places relevant to the Ridge family need to be researched by Ridge descendants, but it is always interesting just to visit the general area.  The trip across the Hawkesbury on the punt is not part of this tour.

Martin Coutry

Returning down Sackville Road towards Windsor, at Wilberforce turn right back up along the Putty Road. At the top of the hill turn left into Kurmond Road. You are now driving through the area of Wilberforce known as ‘Highlands’. Continue past Blacktown Road and Vollers Lane on your left and then turn left into Martins Lane.  (If you keep going along Kurmond Road you pass the Tennyson Road turnoff to the place once known to settlers as Currency Creek and you will eventually reach the Kurrajong area. Kurmond Road basically follows the alignment of the old Grain Road, used by Charles Homer Martin and his bullock team to travel from his home at the bottom of Martins Lane to his bushland work sites as a sawyer.)
Martins Lane, off Kurmond Rd, 2010
Martins Lane leads directly to a 35 acre block at the bottom of the hill where the Martin family squatted for decades on part of the Wilberforce Common. The land is basically bounded by Vollers Lane and Blacktown Rd and today has been broken up into smaller holdings. (The photo is taken from a better vantage point in Blacktown Rd, on the opposite side of the old farm to Martins Lane.) After stopping at the junction of Martins & Vollers Lanes to view the area, turn right into Vollers Lane. 
The Martin land at Wilberforce, 2010
Directly opposite the T-intersection where Vollers Lane joins Blacktown Rd is the general location of the 20 acre block once farmed by Alfred Bushell. Turn right and drive along Blacktown Rd towards Gorricks Lane. You will pass on your left the old Mary Reiby property where Hannah Bushell lived for some years with her husband Robert Greentree. Turn left at Gorricks Lane. As you return to Windsor, coming down the hill towards Bushell’s Lagoon, Mary Reibey’s rather palatial old house is visible on the left, overlooking the wetlands. 
Reibycroft, c 2004
After you cross the flats and turn left at Freemans Reach Rd, you will drive beside the Hawkesbury before reaching Wilberforce Rd again, close to Windsor. Back across the river and up the hill, you reach your original starting point, Thompson Square.

Pitt Town

At the roundabout, continue straight on through Windsor towards Sydney, turn left at Pitt Town Road (the main intersection at the top of the rise on the other side of the flats), and drive 5km towards Pitt Town. On the river side of the town, in Bathurst St, you will find St James Church and Henry Fleming’s old house. David Brown’s town block was located between them.
Henry Fleming's old house, Pitt Town, c 2004
Continuing straight ahead along Bathurst St past the church, the high ground on your right was once the large area owned by Benjamin Jones, step-father of Henry Fleming. You will eventually come to the Old Manse Farm on the left, and at the end of the dirt road (Punt Rd) was the old punt which crossed the river to Pitt Town Ferry Rd at Wilberforce. Turn round here.

For a different return journey, turn right just past The Old Manse, down Pitt Town Bottoms Road and across Bardenarang (Bardo Nerang) Creek, where Henry Fleming was granted land, following the road along until it eventually rejoins Pitt Town Rd. You have just traversed the land where the first 22 settlers at the Hawkesbury were granted land in 1794. Robert Forrester also came to the Hawkesbury in 1794 but settled with the slightly later group at Cornwallis, on the river flats below St Matthews Church at Windsor.

Turn right at Pitt Town Rd, then left at the main intersection with Windsor Road, and you are headed back to Sydney. Further along, on your left, you will see a sign to Maraylya, where Robert Forrester's sons Henry and William were promised land in 1821, which was not advertised as theirs until 1831 but title was not issued until 1841. The suburb was originally called Forrester, until the 1920s, but it's not clear that the Forresters ever had much to do with these grants.

So ends a satisfying day in the scenic Hawkesbury valley, exploring the areas of historical significance to the thousands of descendants of Robert Forrester & Isabella Ramsay, Paul Bushell & Isabella Brown, David Brown & Eleanor Fleming, and Charles Homer Martin & Ann Forrester. If you've not yet read my books on three of these early Hawkesbury pioneers, they are available for purchase through the BookPOD Bookstore.
Louise Wilson's 'Hawkesbury Pioneer' Books
NOTE: If you don't wish to navigate this route yourself, you're invited to contact Carol and Geoff Roberts who live at Windsor and operate Hawkesbury Valley Heritage Tours. They will be happy to discuss your request to be shown around personally.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Hawkesbury Family History Tour, Part 1

Thousands of Australians have traced their family history connections back to the Hawkesbury district on the north-west outskirts of Sydney.  A tour of this historic district, including the churches and graveyards where family members are buried, provides great insights and turns aimless tourism into a purposeful day’s outing, discovering one’s past.

This particular itinerary for a self-drive tour has been designed for the numerous descendants of my convict forebears Robert Forrester, Paul Bushell, David Brown & Charles Homer Martin. It requires an early start, and no dawdling along the way, but gives a quick overview of the geographic setting of the lives led by these men and their wives and families. You can 'hop, skip and jump' in their footsteps and later come back again to walk more slowly across particular sites of interest.

Thompson Square

The most meaningful place to start this tour is at historic Thompson Square, Windsor, on the crest of the hill at the northern end of George St, just before the road drops down to the old bridge across the Hawkesbury. Turn left at the roundabout for parking. [If you turn right instead of left, you’ll see the site of the Old Government House and signposts for Tebbutt’s Observatory, not part of this tour guide.]

At Thompson Square is located the memorial to the Hawkesbury Pioneers. Robert Forrester is listed as a 1788 arrival, Paul Bushell who arrived in 1790 is listed incorrectly as a 1792 arrival and David Brown is listed correctly as a 1792 arrival. Charles Homer Martin, who arrived late in 1818, is not mentioned at all. Women's names are always missing! Robert's wife Isabella Ramsay arrived as a convict in 1791, Paul Bushell's first wife arrived as a convict in 1792 and David Brown's wife Eleanor Fleming arrived free in 1791.

Pioneer Memorial, Thompson Square, Windsor, c 2005
The Government Stores where it is believed Paul Bushell worked for a time once faced this Square, approximately in the location of the old building you can see on the left hand side of the picture. Beside the Square is the old Royal Hotel (now the Macquarie Arms Hotel), operated for many years by Paul Bushell’s eldest son George Thomas Bushell with wife Jane. For a time George’s sister Isabella was involved until she became licensee of the Royal Exchange Hotel further along George St, on the corner of Johnston St.

Macquarie Arms Hotel, formerly Royal Hotel, c 2005
At 5 Thompson Square is the old Pioneer Museum, behind which and accessed from Baker Street is the new and impressive purpose-built HawkesburyRegional Museum, open from 10am-4pm, closed Tuesdays. The Museum Bookshop sells copies of my three books on early Hawkesbury pioneers.

Louise Wilson's 'Hawkesbury Pioneer' Books
However too much time spent in the Museum will cut down available time for visiting the family-specific sites, so a leisurely viewing of the Museum might be an activity for another day.

If you need your early morning caffeine hit, try any one of a number of cafés at Thompson Square before setting out, but be quick about it. (I like the Bridge Café.) Bushell’s old hotel will be a good stop for refreshments at the end of the day.

St Matthews Church, Windsor

Then drive down the road on the Hotel side of the Square and turn left along the River. You’ll pass Baker Street on your left, and then a park with public toilets. Keeping to The Terrace and Moses St, this road leads you eventually to the historic St Matthew’s Church with its distinctive tower and its fascinating cemetery.

The magnificent Francis Greenway-designed church of St Matthew, in its marvellous setting, was the scene of many family weddings, baptisms and funerals. The photo below was taken close to the bottom corner of the churchyard where Robert Forrester is buried, flanked by headstones for close family members, two on either side.

St Matthews Church of England, Windsor, c 2005
The main headstones for the family to look for are:
  • Bushell - George Thomas, 1892, & his wife Jane, 1909 (in a Vickery grave)
  • Bushell – Isabella, 1918 (with her Turnbull family)
  • Bushell – Beatrice Maud, 1951
  • Bushell –Joshua Herbert 1926, Rosehannah Ellen 1952, their children Joshua Aubrey 1928, Ethel Gwendoline 1960, Claude William 1961, Wallace 1967 & Joshua’s sister Mary 1922
  • Chapman – Elizabeth (née Forrester), 1814
  • Daley – Charles, 1886, second husband of Isabella Jane Forrester (who is buried in Melbourne)
  • Forrester – Robert, 1827
  • Forrester – John, 1875, with his second wife Hannah, 1856
  • Forrester – Henry, 1873, and his second wife Maria, 1868
  • Forrester – Lucy, 1823, first wife of Henry
  • Forrester – Robert, 1835, son of Henry
  • Forrester – William, 1869 (not with either of his wives)
  • Forrester – George, 1878, his estranged wife Louisa, 1897, sons Robert Henry, 1915, & William James, 1913
  • Lovell – Thomas, 1839 (first husband of Isabella Jane Forrester)
  • Ridge – Margaret, 1873, son Richard, 1892, & daughter-in-law Mary Ann, 1860
Note the distinctive style of some of the Bushell graves at Windsor (and later at Wilberforce), with low square-built encasement and plain headstones, compared with the more decorative style of the Forrester graves.


Next stop is to view Robert Forrester’s 1794 land grant. Beside St Matthews Churchyard, turn down Greenway Crescent into Cornwallis Rd, crossing the old bridge built by William Cox. Just past the bridge turn right into Deerubbun Park and drive to the parking area at the end, where it is possible to stand on the levee bank and survey the Argyle Reach, the the stretch of river where Robert Forrester and others first farmed in 1794, before levee banks were built. Whilst standing there, imagine the flood devastations they would have suffered.

Argyle Reach, Hawkesbury River, Windsor, 2008
Continue along Cornwallis Rd towards Richmond. Stop when you reach the memorial to the Eather Family, 15 members of which were drowned in the 1867 floods, the worst ever in the history of the Hawkesbury. The next block you pass, for approx. 200 metres on BOTH sides of the road, is the land where Robert Forrester first farmed in 1794. From here his wife Isabella Ramsay was rescued during the 1806 floods.

Eather Memorial, with Robert Forrester's 1794 Land Grant in Background, 2016
The driveway on the right hand side of this picture is today’s entrance to Robert's old block, 104 Cornwallis Road. It is private property.

Entrance to Robert Forrester's 1794 Land Grant (driveway on right of post), 2016
As adults, his sons John, Henry and William continued to favour Cornwallis as the location for their farms but the specific locations of their farms have not been identified.

To find Robert Forrester’s second land grant at the Hawkesbury, continue along Cornwallis Rd, passing the sign to Gorricks Lane which shows where the river was once crossed to gain access to Freeman’s Reach. Proceed along Cornwallis Rd and turn left into Cupitts Lane. As you approach the slope along flat ground and then head up the slope, the land on the right hand side of Cupitts Lane was Robert Forrester’s second grant.

View of Robert Forrester's 1804 Land Grant, c 2008
At the top of the slope, the corner of land on the left hand side of Cupitts Lane was part of this same grant, and the flat area of land on the right hand corner of Cupitts Lane was where Robert’s house was located and is possibly the farm where Bella Ramsay was buried. Today’s address is 1 Cupitts Lane.


St Peter’s Church of England at Richmond is next. Turn right from Cupitts Lane into Dight St, and travel past the Air Force Base (on your left). The road becomes Jersey St. Cross Francis St heading slightly to your right and then immediately turn left into Bourke St and turn right at Windsor St (the main road). At the end of Windsor St, on your left, is St Peter's, another Francis Greenway-designed church. Opposite is the graveyard, with two headstones of interest:
  • Forrester – Robert, 1870, against the hedge to the left of the entrance gate
  • Griffiths – Thomas, 1826 (first husband of Mary Brown), to the left of the entrance gate, towards, the far right hand corner
  • Mary Griffiths/Waterford née Brown is also buried here, but her grave is unmarked.


Now it's time to head for the hills, at Kurrajong. Continue past St Peter’s Church down the hill along Old Kurrajong Rd, turning left where it meets Ridge’s Lane. At the intersection with the main Kurrajong Rd, turn right towards North Richmond and cross over the Hawkesbury. In North Richmond the name of this road changes to its more famous name of Bells Line of Road.

Follow Bells Line of Road up the hill for some distance, past Kurmond and past the left turnoff into Old Bells Line of Road and the village of Kurrajong, heading still towards the west. On the upward slope of the main escarpment you will eventually come to a large roadhouse on the right hand side of the road, on the corner of Hermitage Rd, where you should turn right. 

Along picturesque Hermitage Rd, which follows a ridge line, Robert Forrester’s sons Robert and William were granted land in the 1820s. From 1827 Paul Bushell owned these two Forrester blocks and also purchased two adjoining blocks as part of a sawmilling business. The two Forrester brothers and their brother-in-law Charles Homer Martin were all sawyers and probably cleared these blocks of timber. The approximate location of the land drops below both sides of the road beyond the charming old house at 49 Hermitage Rd, extending approximately from 82 Hermitage Rd to its intersection with Douglas Farm Rd.

49 Hermitage Rd, Kurrajong
Turn around when you reach Douglas Farm Rd and return to Bell’s Line of Road and turn right, still heading uphill. If you are lucky the roadhouse might be open and you can seek refreshments combined with spectacular views. 

The other land granted to three of the Forrester brothers, in 1816 and 1821, is located to the left of the steep climb up the escarpment (known as Douglass Hill or Bellbird Hill) to Kurrajong Heights. Before you reach North Kurrajong village (where a small café may or may not be open), the north-eastern corner of Robert Jnr’s old block commences at the intersection of Bell’s Line of Road with Queen St. He and his brothers John and Henry obviously held land that dropped down the escarpment and was not of much practical use to farmers.

Turn around and retrace your steps, heading back down the mountain. Turn right from Bell’s Line of Road into Old Bell’s Line of Road. At the T-intersection in Kurrajong village turn towards the right into Grose Vale Rd, and follow this road along the ridge line and down the hill. (Note that in Kurrajong village there are several cafés side by side, with panoramic views over the Hawkesbury district below, and a toilet for patrons. The cafés are found by turning left at the T-intersection in Kurrajong Village). 


Near the intersection of Grose Vale Road and Cabbage Tree Road, at the end of the short road behind the Grose Vale Community Centre, is ‘Rosemount’, where George Forrester’s estranged wife and family lived.  It has been subdivided into ten acre allotments, offering spectacular views across the Grose Valley.

Further down Grose Vale Road, off to the right hand side at the bottom of the hill, where the Grose River meets the Nepean and becomes the Hawkesbury, were the later farm holdings of John and Robert Forrester Jnr.  Turn right at Grose River Road and follow it down to Navua Reserve by the river, just to soak up the atmosphere of the general location.  After he returned from Tasmania, Robert Forrester Jnr lived upstream from here, his old place more easily accessible from Springwood Road.  John Forrester’s later grant known as ‘Jane’s Farm’ was just downstream, directly below ‘Belmont Park’ St John of God Private Hospital.

Return to Grose Vale Road, noting almost immediately the hospital’s private road to your right, leading down towards the old location of ‘Jane’s Farm’.  Grose Vale Road will eventually bring you back into the village of North Richmond.  At the main cross roads you should take the right hand turn, towards the Richmond Bridge over the Hawkesbury River. 

To find Robert Forrester Jnr’s old stamping ground, if you have the time and he is your special interest, turn to the right in Richmond, at Bosworth Rd, which becomes Castlereagh Rd, and then right again at Springwood Rd and recross the river at Agnes Banks, to Yarramundi, where the Hoskisson massacre occurred.

View of Hawkesbury from Springwood Rd at Agnes Banks, 2005
Just along here, on the right hand side, is Mahons Creek Rd.  Robert Forrester lived in this general vicinity for about 30 years after he returned from Tasmania.

Catholic Cemetery, Windsor

Return to Windsor along the main road, and turn right at the sign to Windsor Railway Station at George St. Here on the corner of the main road is the Roman Catholic Cemetery. The Catholic Church in Windsor, rather confusingly called St Matthews, is located in Tebbutt St, opposite the same McQuade Park faced by St Matthews Church of England. 
  • One family grave is of interest here, that of William Norris, husband of Susannah Martin, almost in the centre of the cemetery.
On the opposite corner to the Catholic Cemetery is a car yard which was once the town land attached to Forrester’s Lower Farm. 

Presbyterian Cemetery, Windsor

Continue on along George St past the railway station, under the railway line, and take the first turn to the right into Bell St, where can be seen, behind the station in Church St, the small Presbyterian Cemetery. The Presbyterian church building succumbed to the ravages of white ants, was declared unsafe and closed in March 1966 and no longer exists.

  • The Bushell graves in this cemetery are for Paul’s grandson David Oscar Bushell 1931, his wife Mary Alice, 1941, and their children Arthur 1955 & wife Barbara 1927, Bruce Oscar 1953 & wife Kate 1987, James Joshua 1963 and Linda May Crothers née Bushell, 1958
  • Of interest to the Brown family is the Smith headstone for Robert Smith, 1852, his wife Sarah (née Brown), 1894, children Mary, 1838, James 1839, James, 1907 and Ellen 1913. Sarah was a sister of Paul Bushell’s second wife Isabella.

George Street

Retracing your steps to George St and turning right, you will soon come to the house ‘Glenroy’, at 465 George St, where Gertrude Cobcroft née Bushell (Isabella’s daughter) lived in fine style.

Retrace your path along George St, crossing over the main road and continuing along George St towards Windsor. You may wish to turn right at Christie St and enter the underground car park for the Hawkesbury Central Library, located at 300 George St, Windsor. The Library has an excellent Local Studies Department and extremely helpful and friendly staff. But if you wish to have enough time complete the ‘sites tour’, you will need to return to the Library later if you wish to browse through local history books, or conduct your own research. The Library has public toilets and is open most weekdays until 7pm. An adjoining café may be open, depending on the time of your visit. If you wish to visit the Library briefly, the exit route from the Library car park brings you back into George St, where you turn right.

Further along George St you come to Catherine St, where Robert Forrester once owned Catherine Farm, and then the Royal Exchange Hotel on the left hand side, at the corner of George and Johnston Sts, operated for many years by Paul Bushell’s daughter Isabella Bushell.  Then turn right at Fitzgerald St to avoid the pedestrian mall section of George St, and turn left at Macquarie St, the main road to Sydney. Turn left again at the T-intersection and head back up the hill to your starting point at Thompson Square.

The next stage of this Tour is described in Part 2.

If you don't wish to navigate this route yourself, you're invited to contact Carol and Geoff Roberts who live at Windsor and operate Hawkesbury Valley Heritage ToursThey will be happy to discuss your request to be shown around personally.

Friday, 16 February 2018

The Hume's 'Great Divide'

'It's so boring!' That's what you hear people say about the Hume, the national highway between Sydney and Melbourne.  Every town along the route is bypassed. I can drive from my home at South Melbourne, pass through one traffic light onto Kingsway, and reach the other side of the Sydney Harbour Tunnel before I hit the second traffic light of my journey to my daughter's house at Manly.

Driving door-to-door from South Melbourne to Manly, in the process crossing over the heart of Australia's two largest cities, can easily be achieved in under ten hours. That time includes several coffee stops. It's a stunning improvement on the bad old days. Even bored travellers will concede about the Hume that 'It's a great road trip.'

The Hume has a different name in each state (Hume Freeway in Victoria, Hume Highway in NSW), and nowhere is the full distance from one city's GPO to the other city's GPO signposted. As roadside signs prove, the distance depends on how far you've already driven from the central city before you see the first indication of the journey you've yet to make.

More and more people now take to the road in preference to the expense and hassle of flying ... but the Hume's reputation as a scenic drive, experienced at 110kph 'cruise control' along an easy road for so many hours, continues to generate that constant refrain 'It's so boring'.

I don't agree. There's always something new to see and think about along the way. For example, on my numerous trips along the Hume I've exercised my brain trying to work out where the Highway twice crosses the 'Great Divide', as distinct from the Great Dividing Range. Both terms refer to the drainage system for our rivers, some of which flow to the Pacific Ocean and Bass Strait and some of which flow inland. The Range itself extends for 3,500 kilometres, from far north Queensland through New South Wales to Western Victoria, and it has a huge influence on Australia's climate.

The physical presence of the Great Dividing Range as hills and mountains is pretty obvious. The actual line marking the 'Great Divide' is not at all obvious.  

At the Sydney end it's taken me a while to figure out where the road crosses the 'Great Divide'. After leaving Sydney and reaching Goulburn, you leave the hilly forested country behind and gaze over our 'sunlit plains extended'. Yet the Wollondilly River at Goulburn is still flowing towards the Pacific Ocean, as a tributary of the Nepean-Hawkesbury River.

Well beyond the Canberra turnoff, the next town heading southwards, Gunning, obtains its water supply from the Lachlan River, which the highway doesn't cross. The Lachlan River, which flows westwards as part of the Murray-Darling catchment area, eventually reaches the sea near Adelaide on the Great Australian Bight in South Australia. Maps indicate that the river begins its journey on the high ground where the Gunning Wind Farm is located. Now I understand that ridge line's topographical significance and why those wind turbines are located there. The turbines make an excellent landmark signifying the 'Great Divide' for Hume Highway travellers. It's quite astonishing to realise that this crossing point, marked on the map above, is so far inland, nearly one-third of the way to Melbourne.

As the end of my long day in the car is approaching, after I've crossed the Goulburn River at Seymour, gradually gained altitude and passed the turn-off signs for Kilmore, I reach the unmarked but geographically significant Kilmore Gap just before the Wallan South roadhouse. In summer time, as now, I am still driving in daylight.

The spot, quite close to Melbourne, is marked unobtrusively by the simple road sign shown in the photo, beside the southbound lanes of the Hume ... there's a corresponding sign as you head northwards, just past the Wallan North roadhouse. The height above sea level is unimpressive - I think it says 'Great Dividing Range, Road Level 347 m'. Drivers flashing by at 110kph, if they even notice it, might sneer at this low number and wonder why anyone would bother erecting the sign. Yet it has great significance, marking the point where the rivers stop flowing inland. Past this sign, heading southwards from the Kilmore Gap, the channels carrying our precious and scarce water resource start to flow towards Port Phillip Bay and out into Bass Strait.

In other parts of Australia, important community information of this nature is often highlighted. A sign from the Snowy area, posted by someone named Luke on, is an example.

I'd love to see the tourism authorities in NSW​ and the Victoria Tourism Industry Council arrange for an informative sign at both Great Divide points along the Hume.  A short message would do - 'Great Divide, Kilmore Gap', 'Elevation xxx m', plus the two arrows with appropriate wording.  The message might say 'Rivers Flow Inland' and 'Rivers Flow to Coast' OR 'Murray Darling Basin' and 'Coastal Rivers' or something similar. Signs like these would introduce a discussion topic to help keep everyone awake on the Hume and would make the long trip more interesting​, at the same time improving everyone's understanding of this vast continent. 

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Melba's Gift Book of Australian Art and Literature

Last year a friend from my Sydney 'high finance' days, Julie Cleary, visited Melbourne from her home in New Zealand where she has lived for more than 20 years. It was just like yesterday, seeing her again. Lovely. She brought with her from New Zealand a special gift, a one hundred year old copy of 'Melba's Gift Book of Australian Art and Literature', which I was thrilled to receive.  
Melba's Gift Book, 1915
Afterwards, when I sent my thanks, this email came back, explaining how the book came into Julie's possession:
There is quite a story to it, in that our neighbour was a recluse and a hoarder of considerable volumes of everything. In the five years we have lived here I spoke to her three times and then only about getting her trees trimmed - spectacularly unsuccessfully, I may add. She simply shunned people and loved trees.
Recently she fell ill and died shortly thereafter. Somehow I was charged with getting the house cleaned out, a mammoth task. Four industrial-sized bins were filled with rubbish. The Melba book was one of the few things worth saving and I strongly feel it ought to be in Melbourne with someone who appreciates it.  I know you are the perfect recipient.  Julie xx
Perfect is right, for reasons Julie would not have known. For a start, it sparked nostalgia for all the trips I made up and down the Melba Highway during the years when I lived at Yea. Dame Nellie Melba, 1861-1931, the famous opera singer whose choice of stage name honours her home town of Melbourne, owned a country estate at Lilydale. The road now bearing her name branches off the Maroondah Highway on the corner of her old property and heads northwards to Yea.
Dame Nellie Melba, Frontispiece in 'Melba's Gift Book'
A second reason was the purpose of this book. I opened it to find the inside front cover personally autographed by 'Melba' at 'Xmas 1915' as part of her extensive fund-raising efforts for the Belgian Relief Fund in the Great War. This Fund I knew about. Among the Great War letters written by my grandmother's Boulton brothers and published in my recent book 'Brothers in Arms' are one or two letters singling out the pitiful state of the Belgian refugees who reached England in 1914, after their country was invaded. Until I held Melba's book in my hands and read her two-page introduction I didn't know that she too was so moved by their plight that she conceived this book project and donated all its proceeds to the Fund.

Her introduction is followed by 49 other short items, stories and poems contributed to Melba's 'cause' by writers who remain household names today, including Ethel Turner, Mrs Aeneas Gunn, Henry Lawson, C.J. Dennis and Dorothea Mackellar. Lavish illustrations, 34 in total with some plates in full colour, were donated by famous artists such as Norman Lindsay, Hans Heysen, Will Dyson, Arthur Streeton, Fred C McCubbin, Julian Ashton, the children's book illustrator Ida Rentoul Outhwaite and the botanical artist Ellis Rowan. Here was a third reason to love receiving Julie's unexpected gift - the beauty of its words and pictures takes me back into another era.

There was also a fourth and final reason. Ellis Rowan's black & white painting 'A Wild Garden' grabbed my attention, as the subject of my most recent book 'Margaret Flockton: A Fragrant Memory', was another botanical artist. Clearly Margaret Flockton (1861-1953), for all the recognition she receives today and the international art award in her name, did not mix in Nellie Melba's circle of fame back in 1915.
Ellis Rowan's 'A Wild Garden'
Clearly there are many reasons for me to treasure this book. Thank you, Julie Cleary, for saving it from the skip and placing it in my care. 

The book has great significance for others too. In recognition of 'Melba's Gift Book' as one of the best examples of WW1 fund-raising efforts, and as part of the centenary events commemorating the terrible period in world history from 1914-1918, work from this book is currently on exhibition. Signifying Melba's connection with Lilydale and the Melba Highway, the exhibition is on show at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, 35-37 Castella St, Lilydale. The Museum is open every day, 10am-4pm, free entry. The exhibition closes on Sunday 4 February 2018.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The 'Banter Benefit' of Family History

The following exchange of emails epitomises the rewarding relationships you can discover and establish through family history research. Stephen and I are third cousins. We didn’t know each other 15 years ago and never dreamed the other existed. Now, every time I see an email arrive from him I smile in anticipation of his banter. Here's the latest example.

9 Jan 2018, 5.14 pm
Are you out there somewhere ?
Hello Louise,
I hope this email finds you well.
We haven't heard from you in such a long while and of course, we missed your Christmas 'letter' this year.
How the heck are you ?
Steve & Glenda [B….]

9 Jan 2018, 7.00 pm
Re: Are you out there somewhere ?
Hi there, B…. ‘cousins’
Yes, I’m still here, beavering away in South Melbourne. My last-minute-Louie message at Christmas left a few people off the list. Sorry!
Here’s the message, since you’re interested.
I hope you are both well.
L xx

9 Jan 2018 7.55 pm
Thank Goodness
Thank goodness you are OK Louise...
We were both really VERY concerned for you.
You have made us feel a part of your family with the Christmas message each year and when it didn't arrive we suspected the worst.
Enjoy the evening,
Your sooky cousins from Knoxfield.
S & G.


10 Jan 2018, 7.28 am
Re: Thank Goodness
Love your emojis!
In return - what’s your news?

11 Jan 2018, 9.12 am
Late News
Hello Dear Cousin,
We are not ignoring you... Glenda produced a Christmas message which was sent out last month and it is this that we would like to send you BUT; she can't find the file on her computer.
Please be patient while we look under and into everything in an attempt to find it.
Mr B.

17 Jan 2018, 9.55 am
Re: Late News
Still waiting!!

17 Jan 2018, 7.48 pm
Lateish News
Oh boy, do I hate picky cousins !
The next time you neglect to send me your 'yearly run-down' I'm saying nothing.
As it happens, I have put off reading your news until we can send you ours... Now is that fair or what?
In fact, it is a female thing which I am having to contend with, as it is you who didn't send me 'the news' in the first place and it is Glenda who lost ours.
Malcolm told us all that life was hard and he was right.
I sauntered past Glenda's study this morning and noticed her bashing out something on the word processor so I am hoping that the late edition will soon be available.
Keep cool, maintain a positive attitude,
Your loving cousin,

18 Jan 2018, 7.54 pm
Our 2017 Christmas Letter
Hi family,
Attached is a copy of the 2017 Christmas letter which I sent out to a few friends in December. However, today Steve added some photos and we thought you might like to take a look at our 2017 news.
Love to you all.
Glenda & Steve

22 Jan 2018, 11.52 am
Re: Our 2017 Christmas Letter
Well, that letter was worth waiting for. What a year you have had, what adventures. I’m envious of the travel and the sights, but not of the camping. Definitely not my cup of tea! The photos were amazing too. Thank you for letting me share your year.

22 Jan 2018, 1.52 pm
The Reading
OK, I just read your 2017 communiqué...
[His reaction to my personal news is now excluded] ... Several chapters beginning and others closed, what a circle you move in.
[Re my news of 2nd Edtn of the Forrester book] .. Glenda has been reading the Robert Forrester book and as was I, she is VERY impressed with the way you crafted it. She has told me that you may use this to create a novel and what a fabulous one you could make of it.
Glenda has gone into the Tennis today with her sister-in-law while I am left here to fend off the marauding Lorikeets, Crimson Rosellas and Currawongs who are intent on devouring our grape crop.
When I first met Glenda she was none too convinced about camping but my being a Queens Scout made the difference and she now spends only about 50% of the time worrying about becoming forever lost in the outback.
What fun we have!
Bye for now Louise,
Stephen x

Friday, 19 January 2018

My 'Top 40' for Australia Day

Recent crazy statements by our politicians have got me all fired up about Australia Day this year. That got me thinking about what songs make me feel 'Australian' ... or urge me to get up and dance, or sing along, with an Australian performer.

Accordingly, on a 'Top 40' degree Celsius day in Melbourne I chose to while away a few hours by trawling through my CDs and LPs (yes!) to create my own personal 'Top 40' list of favourite songs by Australians ... even if expatriate ... or songs about Australia. Some of these songs take me back to the innocent rosy glow of my childhood.

Excluding the National Anthem Advance Australia Fair, here they are, grouped in alphabetical order by themes. Would these songs make your list too? If you don't recognise some, you can probably catch them on Youtube. 
    Australia Day 
  1. Aeroplane Jelly Song, Advertisement 
  2. Bapa, Geoffrey Gurumul Yunupingu 
  3. Bound for Botany Bay, Lionel Long 
  4. From Little Things Big Things Grow, Paul Kelly & Kev Carmody 
  5. Great Southern Land, Icehouse 
  6. Happy Little Vegemites, Advertisement 
  7. Home Among the Gum Trees, John Williamson 
  8. I am Australian, The Seekers 
  9. I Still Call Australia Home, Peter Allen 
  10. I’ve Been Everywhere, Lucky Starr 
  11. Little Boy Lost, Jimmy Little 
  12. Pub with no Beer, Slim Dusty 
  13. Song of Australia, Peter Dawson 
  14. Waltzing Matilda, Peter Dawson 

  15. ANZAC Day 
  16. And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda, Eric Bogle 
  17. Is ‘E an Aussie, Lizzie Is ‘E?, Flotsam and Jetsam 
  18. Khe Sanh, Cold Chisel (Jimmy Barnes) 
  19. The Road to Gundagai, Slim Dusty 

  20. Christmas Day 
  21. Orana, Bombala Rotary Community Choir 
  22. The North Wind, Bombala Rotary Community Choir 

  23. Sing and Dance Songs 
  24. All out of Love, Air Supply 
  25. Beds are Burning, Midnight Oil 
  26. Don’t Dream It’s Over, Crowded House 
  27. Down Under, Men at Work 
  28. Eagle Rock, Daddy Cool 
  29. Friday on my Mind, Easybeats 
  30. Funky Town, Pseudo Echo 
  31. Hanging Five, The Delltones 
  32. Help is on its Way, Little River Band 
  33. Howzat, Sherbet 
  34. I’ll Never Find Another You, The Seekers 
  35. Jive Talkin’, Bee Gees 
  36. Love is in the Air, John Paul Young 
  37. Most People I Know Think that I’m Crazy, Billy Thorpe and The Aztecs 
  38. Oh Boy, Diana Trask 
  39. Pleasure and Pain, Divinyls 
  40. Say I Love You, Renée Geyer 
  41. Somebody I Used to Know, Gotye 
  42. Stayin’ Alive, Bee Gees 
  43. The Real Thing, Russell Morris
Some ‘big name’ performers are missing from my list because I couldn’t think of a single song of theirs that I liked enough to include!