Kandos History: a new website

Local Kandos historian and author, Colleen O’Sullivan, has announced the launch of a new website to promote the town of Kandos and provide a forum for its history.
The website, Kandos History, can be found at kandoshistory.com.


June Foodey

June Foodey, daughter of Charlie GEORGE,
and grandaughter of Benit and Matilda of Georgedale

Ref: Cathy Hill

Source: Wal Pilz


Bill Staff's Papers

I opened some of Dad's boxes of documents and articles and found some amazing notes and records about our family dating back as far as 1798.

Dad had obtained copies of documents from government departments as well as church records relating to my great, great, great grandfather, Murtagh Ahearn, who at the age of 18, was involved in the 1798 Vinegar Hill uprising in Ireland. He was subsequently deported to Australia on the Atlas convict ship arriving in Port Jackson in 1802.

10 years later he was emancipated and received 5 acres of land near Liverpool. In 1814 he married a 23 year old English woman and they had 17 children.

One of his grand daughters was my Dad’s grandmother, Kate Foodey (née Boyce) who was married to the Rylstone station Master James Foodey,  whom my Dad grew up with at 40 Mudgee Street. She died in 1934, when Dad was 16 years old. He talked of his Gran and her stories often.

I knew some of the information and some of the stories however, I had never seen the ship records, marriage and birth certificates, and typed up as well as his own hand written notes.

It’s all very exciting stuff to find such treasures in there !
Ref: Genevieve Staff

Source: Wal Pilz


James Nash House being transported to Museum site

Nash House being transported to Museum site

James Nash, a blacksmith, came with his family to Rylstone in 1868. He purchased land in Cudgegong Street and his first home was a slab timber building. Later this simple weatherboard house was built in front, and named "Riverview". The wide verandah on all sides adds great charm.

In 147 Rylstone  Shire Council purchased the property to expand the Showground area. The House became the office for the Show Society, a meeting space, and a changing room for sporting teams, affectionately known as 'Show Cottsge'.

After new Showground amenities were built in1982. the house was scheduled for demolition. The historical society rescued and moved it in 1984 to this location.

Restored and opened as 'The Cottage' in 1988, it now houses the museum and office of the Rylstone and District Historical Society.

Source: Wal Pilz



Open Day at Government House - 2nd June 2016

2 June - Open Day at Government House

The following is a message from the Governor, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd),

On Sunday, 12 June 2016, Government House will open its doors for self-guided tours and Guides will be on hand to answer questions about this 170 year old residence. We also invite you to bring a picnic rug, pack your favourite picnic fare, and enjoy the winter sun in the grounds of Government House. Entry will be by (optional) charitable donation.

The Society has been invited by its patron the Governor to have a table at the Government House Open Day, which will be held in honour of Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday. We would like to thank the Governor for the opportunity to share information about RAHS activities with people who attend this event. RAHS Council and staff members will be there on the day looking after the RAHS table so please come over and say hello. 
Source: RAHS newsletter, May 2016


Ian Jack, Honorary Fellowship University of Sydney

Image:  Ian Jack
Honorary Fellowship University of Sydney

On Friday last, 13 May 2016, Professor Ian Jack was conferred Honorary Fellowship of the University of Sydney for outstanding service to the University.  Ian's association with the University began in 1961, when he arrived in Australia from Scotland.  Ian is currently Senior Fellow at St Andrew's College, University of Sydney.

nomination was made by St Andrew’s College, University of Sydney and was accepted by the Senate of the University at their most recent meeting.  The conferral occurred as part of a graduation ceremony at The Great Hall and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Barbara Caine AM, made the presentation.


William GEORGE and Ann OWEN

Photo: Cathy Hill

WILLIAM AND ANN, The background story...

William GEORGE and Ann OWEN were born at a time of great social change in Britain. The Industrial revolution had created a new middle class. Many new offences were introduced by the authorities to protect the property of the newly rich, and the numbers of gaol inmates soared. The end of the American War of Independence meant that Britain no longer shipped convicts to that colony and the British gaol system was collapsing. In response, the new colony of New South Wales was established in 1788 as a penal colony and by 1820, Sydney was a city of 12,000 people. Among other developments, a thriving whaling industry had been established. 

WILLIAM GEORGE was born about Jan 1801 in Llangwm, Pembrokeshire, Wales. He died on 15 Oct 1869 in Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia. He married Ann Owen, daughter of Robert Owen and Mary Morris, on 11 Apr 1826 in Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia. She was born in Aug 1799 in Lydbury North, Shropshire, England. She died on 22 Jul 1874 in Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia.

William George and Ann Owen had the following children:
THOMAS GEORGE was born on 27 Feb 1827 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. He died on 15 Jul 1898 in Catherine Hill Bay, New South Wales, Australia. He married Isabella Hay on 07 Aug 1855.

WILLIAM HENRY GEORGE was born in 1828 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. He died in 1829 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

GEORGE OWEN GEORGE was born on 08 Sep 1831 in Sydney NSW. He died in Jun 1906 in Parkes NSW.

CECILIA GEORGE was born on 30 Apr 1833 in Sydney NSW. She died in Mar 1913 in Canterbury NSW.

GEORGINA GEORGE was born on 24 Feb 1836 in Long Reef NSW. She died on 14 Nov 1900 in Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia. She married Benjamin Yabsley on 18 May 1864 in Concord NSW.

BENIT WILLIAM GEORGE was born on 05 Nov 1837 in Long Reef, New South Wales, Australia. He died on 01 Nov 1918 in Rylstone, New South Wales, Australia. He married (1) SARAH KIRKLAND on 16 Jan 1865 in Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia. She was born in 1841. She died in 1875 in Rylstone, New South Wales, Australia. He married (2) MATILDA HARVEY in 1876 in Running Stream, New South Wales, Australia. She was born on 05 Oct 1856 in Palmers Oaky, New South Wales, Australia. She died on 19 Jul 1940 in Rylstone, New South Wales, Australia.

ALFRED BEACHAM GEORGE was born on 09 Oct 1839 in Long Reef NSW. He died on 17 May 1902 in Rylstone, New South Wales, Australia. He married Fredericka Henrietta Maria Brewer in 1863 in Sydney NSW.

SELINA GEORGE was born in 1842 in Pittwater NSW. She died on 23 Jan 1911. She married George Mark Hayward in 1879.
Ref; William and Ann...a Lifetime Together-by Cathy Hill

Source: Wal Pilz


Benit William and Matilda GEORGE

Photo: Cathy Hill

Benit William and Matilda GEORGE have a fitting tribute to their lives on Georgedale.

Bernie George made the plinth which was unveiled on 30 April 2016 at Rylstone cemetery, on the previously unmarked graves of Benit Wm and Matilda

Source: Cathy Hill



ANZAC DAY 1915 - poem by Arthur Henry Adams

A recently discovered treasure from the John Oxley Library collection is a 348 page cutting book containing Australian World War I poetry, (OM 92-68). The poems, which cover the period 1914-1919, were published in The Bulletin magazine and the Sydney Mail newspaper, and provide a wonderful compilation of the works of various poets, many of them soldiers in the front lines.

The Bulletin magazine was first published in Sydney on the 31st January 1880 and was highly influential in Australian culture and politics until after World War I. Its main focus was politics and business, although it also had a strong literary character. The publication served as a platform for young and aspiring writers to showcase their short stories and poetry. Notable Australian writers who were associated with The Bulletin include Henry Lawson, Steele Rudd, Ethel Turner, Dorothy Mackellar, Harry (Breaker) Morant and Banjo Paterson.

The poets, writing about World War I, include Ethel Campbell (known as the Angel of Durban), John Sandes (who wrote under the name of Oriel), Henry Lawson, Mary Hannay Foott, Will Lawson, Major Oliver Hogue writing as “Trooper Bluegum”, and Arthur Henry Adams to name but a few. Themes of national pride, patriotism honour and gallantry are prominent and sustain the idea that Australia found her identity and became a nation during the bloodshed, tragedy, and sacrifices of the war. 

Ref: State Library of Qld


Edward King Cox (1829-1883)

Edward King Cox (1829-1883), grazier, was the eldest son of Edward Cox, M.L.C. of Fernhill, Mulgoa, and his wife Jane Maria, and grandson of William Cox.

Edward was born at Mulgoa on 28 June 1829, and until 1847 lived at Mulgoa and attended the parish school of Rev. Thomas Makinson and then went to The King’s School at Parramatta for about three years.

After leaving school Edward lived on his father’s sheep stations at Rawdon, Rylstone, in the Mudgee district, and his leases on the Namoi. In 1852 he accompanied his brother to Europe where he studied sheepbreeding and inspected the principal flocks in England and on the Continent. At Tralee, County Kerry, on 19 May 1855 he married Millicent Ann, daughter of Richard J. L. Standish. Soon afterwards he returned to take charge of his father’s stations.

Edward was an outstanding breeder of stud stock. He inherited his father’s merino stud at Rawdon, Rylstone, and by careful breeding won world renown as ‘the great improver of the Australian Merino’. He won awards in many countries for his wool, particularly the grand prize at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1878. Edward brought together at Fernhill, Mulgoa, his stud Shorthorn cattle and thoroughbred horses in 1868. His chief sires, Yattendon and Darebin, both won the Sydney Cup; he also imported stud mares from England and bred the Melbourne Cup winners, Chester and Grand Flaneur. In 1873, with John Agar Scarr, Edward was joint editor of The Stud Book of New South Wales.
Ref: Australian Dictionary of Biography


True Life Story of a Country Bumpkin

In a town called Coonamble in Mid Western New South Wales, I was born on the 31st of January 1916 at my Grandmothers home. When I was born I took convulsions, the Mid Wife who attended my Mum took me home to her house where she put me in a tub of very warm water to which some mustard had been added (a mustard bath), must have been the thing to do in those days.

It worked because 80 years on I am here to tell the tale, I was one of five children. All my brothers and my only sister have passed on.

My father always worked on Stations looking after stock, fixing fences and so on. One day when I was about ten months old he was working on a fence that had been washed down by flood waters when a piece of wire struck him in the eye. He lost his eye. I don’t remember him with anything but one eye. Mum told me everything about it and I have a photo that was taken before the accident.
When I was three years old my brother Jack was born, sometime later we moved to another property.
The house on this property that we moved into had never been finished being built.

The fireplace in the lounge room was only a hole in the floor with a tin chimney around it and there were no ceilings at all which turned out to be a good thing, because there was a mice plague. Mice everywhere and there was no cupboards to put the food in, so Father hung two rails, got some pieces of wire and hung the rails from the rafters, put some pieces of tin across the rails making a loft to put our food on to keep it away from the mice. After some time, I don’t know the reason why, but all the mice just disappeared.

One day my brother and I were playing outside and we got some big rollie pollies (big bushes that used to grow on the plains). When dry they used to blow across the paddocks, rolling over and over so we called them rollie pollies, anyhow we took them inside and put them on the fire in the kitchen, well the flames went up the chimney setting fire to the soot that had built up over the years. However there was no damage done because the chimney was built out of tin, but my poor mum got a great fright and I thought it was the end of everything. I suppose I was the ringleader in the drama as I was the older one.

We had to learn to cope with our loss and get on with our lives and after a few months I had another miscarriage. It was a Sunday morning and when I woke up I didn’t feel well. Arthur had a load of wood to get for the wood yard so Joy rang for the Doctor. When he asked her what the trouble was she couldn’t tell him. I got up and went to the phone and fainted a few minutes later. Doctor arrived and sent me to hospital where I stayed for seven to eight days and three pints of blood later I was allowed to go home.

Now both Joy and Beryl have gone away working. Joy to Sydney and Beryl to Queensland where she worked for about twelve months. Then she came home to go back to work at the hospital where she started nursing. About six months later another little girl has arrived also with a club foot, we were so worried, I asked our Doctor to send her to an infant specialist who gave her a good examination and told me he could find nothing wrong with her.

Of cause we had to take her to Camperdown, this time I was staying with my sister in-law at Bankstown. This time we only had to stay for one month. The Doctor said that I knew how to handle things after having had our little boy to look after, but I would have to take her down for checkup’s every three weeks, this was for about three visits, then it was two months and so on until it was six months. When she was twelve months old the splints were taken off and she started walking, then she had to have special boots, odd sizes because her club foot was shorter than the other one and the boots were worn on the wrong feet then it was a caliper, but she was well otherwise. Her name is Jean, but the boys nicknamed her Jackie and it is still Jackie. When she was four years old we moved out of town as there were only three of the family left at home now. Beryl and Joy were married and Dulcie had moved to Sydney to finish her hair dressing training and the other boys had gone off working elsewhere, so we sold our house and went sharefarming. We were living in a tin shed.
It was a good life, but we worked hard. Lloyd was working on another farm, Ron and Jackie went to a bush school. I used to drive them to school and pick them up in the afternoon. We had about seven miles to travel to and from.

In the busy times such as ploughing or sowing we worked twenty-four hours a day. Arthur would drive all night until 9.30am until I got back from taking the kids to school then I would drive all day until 3pm then he would take over again and I would take his tea to him and drive while he ate his meal.

In the slack time he would work for the Boss doing other things such as fencing and so on. We did this for four years, but Arthur wanted a farm of his own so we started buying the Land News Paper looking for farms for sale. We looked at quite a few places then there was one at Rylstone. Mr Marchent was the agent so over we came and it was a terrible place and a terrible road to get there. Just another disappointment, but on our way back into town Mr Marchent took us to look at Blue Stone that is where we bought our farm we paid the deposit and moved in. The arrangements with the chap where we were sharefarming to go back and do one more year, but after some time they told us they were not doing any more share farming, that was a big let down because we needed that extra crop to help pay for our farm.

Now with installments that needed to be paid and fuel and seed to be bought things were tough and there was only two paddocks fit to farm. We worked hard digging out seedlings clearing more ground and gathering rocks it kept us busy, then Arthur had to find work elsewhere to keep some money coming in and when he got home from his job at the carbon quarry he would do some burning off. We were in debt everywhere.

We also bought some sheep and when they started lambing they started dying. They were full of worms so we had to drench them and dip them so after having them shawn we sold them at a loss, nothing seemed to go right.

In all this time we are still taking Jackie to Sydney to the Doctor and when she was eleven they operated on her foot. She was in Camperdown for three to four weeks then she came home in plaster and on crutches. She missed two months school. Mr Staff was the headmaster of the Primary school in Kandos and when Jackie went back he was very good to her, he worked with her until she caught up that two months and she went into high school just after she turned twelve, that girl owes a lot to Mr Staff and she knows it.

Then the war broke out in Vietnam and Lloyd joined the Army and he went to Vietnam for twelve months, but thank God he came home to us.

When Ron was eighteen he was in a car smash. One night when he and two mates were coming home from Rylstone and a Landrover smashed into them. Ron was thrown out and dragged along the road, all his back was skinned, his clothes were torn to ribbons, his leg was badly broken and his eye was lacerated, so he was sent to Bathurst where he was for five months. His leg did not knit so he had to have a bone graft. When he was home and well enough he went to work at the cement works at Kandos. Then it was a real taxi run for me morning and afternoon taking the men to work and Jackie to catch the bus then picking them all up each afternoon. Ron has only ten percent sight in his eye.
One Christmas the other boys came home they were working at Whyndam Meat Works and around Australia so Ron gave up his job at Kandos and went with them, and we are still not paying any installments off the farm and were fed up trying to so we rang the man we bought it off (Mr B we will call him) asking him to come to see us as we wanted out, but we almost had to beg him to take the place back. He was so good to us he could have kicked us off the place years before if he wasn’t that sort of person. Anyhow Mr B took the farm back and gave us $2000.00 and that is how we were able to buy the house I am in now. We gave the big sum of $2,750.00 for it, so after being farmers for seven years we shifted into town to live and we still owe money everywhere.

Digital copy of article at:  


Galagher Stories that need to be told

PORT MACQUARIE "The Port". It has nothing to do with Governor Lachlan Macquarie or the convict settlement now retirement location on the mid North Coast. But it may have!
Family lore has it that these fertile river flats and isolated hideaway in the most inaccessible corner of God's earth, were first taken up by a Spanish sea captain, of the Spanish Main - CAPTAIN CARLOS who called it "Port Macquarie".

The full article is available here.


THE Baker family of Glen Alice

This article by Scurrah and Palmer in 1969 is an interesting snippet of Rylstone District History. 

The "One of the family" would have been William A. Baker who died in 1973, aged 93 years, and is buried in the Glen Alice Cemetery.


     The Baker family, well known in the district for many years, had an original area of over 1,000 acres situated to the north of the village of Glen Alice.

      One of the family still lives in the Valley. He resides at the cottage which is used as the Glen Alice post office and telephone exchange.

     Despite Mr. Baker’s eighty-four years, he is a mine of information and clearly recalls personalities and incidents relating to the settlers who lived there when he was a child.
Ref; Tour of Rylstone - Capertee Valley - compiled by Scurrah & Palmer


Rylstone Shire Council - Minutes of meeting on 13th January 1927

Shire of Rylstone
Minutes of meeting of the Rylstone Shire Council held in the Council Chambers
on January 13, 1927 at 4:20 PM

PRESENT - Councillors Underwood, Crewdson, Simpkins,  Jennings, Jamieson  and MacPherson.


The Chairman reported on behalf of the Committee

That Cr Jamieson’s offer to continue the supervision of St John’s Wart eradication be accepted and that Cr Jamieson be thanked for his services in that respect.

That the  Standard Portland Cement Co Ltd, Charbon town should be approved, and plans sealed subject to the matters set out in the Engineer’s report being satisfactorily carried out.

That subdivision of Lot 1 section 10 Rodgers Street Kandos be approved.

That the minimum size of allotment of land on which a dwelling may be erected to those parts of the Shire to which the Building  Ordnance apples be fixed at 8700 square feet.

That Miss Ferguson and Mrs Babidge be given seven days to make a firebreak on their land in Louee Street, Rylstone and in default the Council carry out the work and charge the cost to them.

That Barbers shop licence applications be grnted t H E Clifford, D Charles, Dempster & Robinson and R E O’Brien.

That Building applications be granted in satisfaction of applications for permits, number, 1926 - 128 Daudry, 129 BIRCH, 130 Simpson, 1927 - 1 Hollingsworth, 2 Hayes, 2 Couper, 4 Somerfield.

That Electricity consumers agreements be altered, excess services to commence from 35 feet inside the building line in lieu of 20 feet at present. That the alteration be retrospective to the commencement of the undertakings. That access services be charged a rate of 9d per yard run.

That the agreement with the Main Rods Board for Read Hill work be signed and sealed with the Council’s common seal.

That application be made for 1926 Main Roads Board contribution of £ for £, also the 1927 £ for £ contribution.


Rylstone Shire Community Heritage Study - existing studies

Rylstone Shire Community Heritage Study
The Report April 2003 by Christo Aitken & Associates


3.1 Introduction

This section discusses the existing studies that provided some supporting material for the heritage study. The studies completed for Rylstone Shire are few. There is an urgent need for considerably more planning work to occur in order to guide the future direction of the Shire. For instance there are many good examples elsewhere in NSW of development control plans that could be readily adapted to suit the needs of the towns and villages if funds and resources permitted. Rylstone Shire is more fortunate than other areas in NSW where the pressures of development and consequent pressures of time have sometimes resulted in less than appropriate decisions, loss of character and lost opportunities. Rylstone does not yet have this pressure and therefore has the time and precedent to learn from, apply and prepare itself for the future.

3.2 Aspects of Significance of Rylstone Shire

Rylstone is a relatively large local government area which became a municipality in 1906. The shire has been shaped by a number of significant forces which are outlined in this study. Rylstone shire retains evidence of many of the themes which have been significant in its history, including early pastoral settlement, mining and quarrying of coal and limestone for a major cement industry, and the growth of towns and villages as service centres throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. There has been little change in many aspects of the shire since its settlement.

Pastoralism has been a significant theme in Rylstone shire since the 1820s, with early graziers such as Richard Fitzgerald, Edward Cox, John Thompson and the Suttor family among others, establishing large pastoral properties. The descendants of many of these early pioneering families still live in the Rylstone area, and until recent years, some of these properties remained in original family ownership. Associated with these with these large pastoral holdings were many fine homesteads with their related working buildings, many of which remain intact and in use, and thus retain their significance to the region.

Unlike many other areas in the NSW Central West, Rylstone did not directly experience a gold rush in the mid 19th century (although the busy goldfields at Sofala and Hill End were close to the shire’s present boundaries). Significant deposits of limestone and coal, however, allowed for the later development of a cement industry in the early 20th century, which continues to be an important aspect of the shire’s economy today.

The town of Rylstone, established 1842 as a service centre for the surrounding pastoral properties, retains important aspects of a mid 19th century Australian village which is in many ways unchanged today. It incudes a number of significant vernacular buildings dating from the 19th century, and constructed from the local rubble stone which gives the town a unique and cohesive architectural character.

Kandos, by comparison, was established in 1913 as a service centre for the cement works which is integral to the town. Kandos has a predominate Interwar architectural character, and is set dramatically against the backdrop of the stark and imposing Cumber melon Mountain.

Rylstone and Kandos are the major urban centres in Rylstone Shire: each is significant in its own right, having retained its original character as a result of relative isolation until recent years. Compared to other towns in the Central West, both towns can still be considered to be isolated; the major road south to Bathurst has only been sealed in the last five years, while the major road north to Muswellbrook remains unsealed today.

Rylstone Shire has considerable natural significance, with approximately 80% of its total area covered in native vegetation. Both the Wollemi and Goulburn River National Parks extend into the shire. The Wollemi National Park covers almost half a million hectares and is the largest intact wilderness area in southeastern Australia. It now has World Heritage status. A large number of Aboriginal sites are known to exist in Rylstone Shire.

The national parks increasingly provide a major opportunity for cultural tourism within the shire. Other growing economic opportunities within Rylstone in recent years include the growth of the wine and olive industries.

By the considered preservation of the significant historic, natural and cultural aspects of the shire, Rylstone can accommodate future growth while reinforcing its unique history and character to the benefit of the local community and visitors to the area.


Rylstone History Online - who is browsing it?

Google provides up-to-date statistics on their Blog sites.

For Rylstone History Online we find that there have been 700 pageviews by people all over the world during the last month.

Where is this Audience?

As expected the largest number, about half, reside in Australia. The statistics for the last month by country looks like this:

    Australia  360
   United States  150
   Russia 75
   New Zealand  25
   Germany/France/Poland  10 each

The most popular post by far is:
Virtual Excursion to Capertee Valley  with 175 hits, more than double any others,
followed by:
"Andy" Black & Jessie Hickman 77

 You can see from  the sidebar there have been 56 posts and 3,600 pageviews to date.


Fire at Capertee 1894

Fire at Capertee 1894
What became known as Shervey’s Hotel in Capertee was built in 1862. By 1894 this hotel was considered to be the oldest landmark on the Mudgee road. In that year the building was owned by Mr Shervey and the licensee was Mr Phillipson.

The hotel was a regular stopping place for people travelling to and from Mudgee. One night in November 1894 the hotel had as a guest one Mr Fleming, brother-in-law to Dr Nicholl of Mudgee. Mr Fleming was riding his bicycle from Sydney to Mudgee and stopped overnight at Capertee. Mr Fleming found the night warm enough to leave the window open. He placed a lit candle near the window while he left the room. It was believed the curtains may have blown over the candle and caught fire. The resultant fire caused great damage in the town. Not only was Shervey’s Hotel completely destroyed, but so too was the neighbouring general store belonging to Mr Paton.
Ref: RDHS Research & Writing Group Newsletter Spring 2010

Capertee Royal Hotel

Photo: Capertee Royal Hotel collection

This photo shows the Capertee Royal Hotel which was rebuilt in stone in 1884 after the previous timber building was totally destroyed by fire on the night of 14th January, 1884.
Ref: SMH - 16 November 1894, p.9


The late Mrs. Jamison - The last of a Great Family

Mrs. Jamison Senior, whose death was reported in last Thursday's Guardian", 1st September, 1921, was the third daughter-of the late Mr. JOHN MacLEAN of GLEN ALICE STATION, Capertree Valley. By a strange coincidence John MacLean early in the nineteenth century married an Isle of Skye girl who bore the same surname - Marion Effie MacLean - but who was no way related to him. About the year 1820 Mr. John MacLean, born at Coudrae House, Isle of Skye, Scotland, came to Australia and with him many of the fine old Scottish families who afterwards settled in the Nile and various parts of the Rylstone district. A few years subsequent to his arrival in New South Wales Mr. MacLean acquired the Glen Alice property by purchase at auction, from the late Sir James James, for whom a highly lucrative appointment had been found by the British Government in India.

Glen Alice in the heyday of Mr. MacLean’s ownership held 25,000 sheep, in addition to several thousand head of cattle and horses. The old homestead, modelled on English lines, was widely known because of its comfort, beauty, and the hospitality of its Highland Chieftain. It was said of Mr. MacLean that he never permitted a swagman to travel past his home with empty ration bags, or tattered boots or clothing. Glen Alice retained bootmakers and tailors, and the wants of the needy at the request of the owner, were invarioubly made good.

In these days there were no railway lines, motor cars, telephones, or telegraph lines; not even distant centres of country civilisation. The requirements of a property supporting seventy odd shepherds and station hands had to be met by the services of the early gig and bullock dray, having contact across the Blue Mountain chain, nearly 200 miles away, with Sydney. Sugar and flour, and other requisites cost more than was ever paid during the submarine crisis in Britain in 1918. Wild blacks were numerous, and bushranging episodes were not infrequent.

Upon one occasion Mr. MacLean was returning from Sydney with over £200 in cash in his possession to pay his servants, when riding back back he was accosted by a horseman in wild bush garb. The stranger drew a pistol and levelling it at John MacLean's head cried angrily - "Hands up, or I’ll blow your brains out”. The old man, who latterly wore a glowing white beard, obeyed the command. McIntyre, the bushranger, hesitated for an instant then broke in sternly - "What's your name"? "John MacLean", was the reply. "of Glen Alice"? asked the desperado. "Yes”. said Mr. Maclean. "Then you can go on, I wouldn't hurt a hair of your head. I thought you were Billy B . . . and if it had been I'd have shot you as dead as a crow and then scalped you - But mind I warn you, don't look back".

The temptation was too great, and before dipping the range a backward glance was made. McIntyre shook his fist in the air and roared an injunction, but did not fire.

Mr. MacLean was renowned for his physique and strength. In the early sixties at Glen Alice (recorded in Australian, "Men of Neath") for a wager of £5 he carried a spade pressed bale of wool weighing 553 lbs. a distance of 150 yards on his back. It was a usual feat to take a full sized merino wetter in each hand and cast both with comparitive ease in the wash pool.

Between the years 1860 and 1880 wild horse chasing and bull shooting were amongst the outdoor sports. Old hands - like Mr. Samuel Nicholson of Glen Alice, well remember the heroic feat performed during the seventies by the late owner of Glen Alice, when with his old horse pistol he destroyed an infuriated wild bull on the Blue Rock Flat in close proximity to the old Crown Station. He was walking across the flat with the bridle of his pony upon his arm when the bull broke from a mob of cattle nearby. Turning like a flash to mount his charger Mr. MacLean was amazed to find that the bridle, had been slipped and the pony was not there. Wonderful presence of mind stood him in good stead and calmly drawing the horse pistol from its holster he levelled the weapon at the charging moster, which fell in a lifeless heap at his feet. The home of Mr. MacLean was open to all comers and strict Presbyterian as he was, Monsignor O’Donovan was always hospitably entertained at Glen Alice.

Mrs. Jamison's maiden name was Margaret Effie MacLean. She married William Henry Jamison, youngest son of Sir John Jamison M.D. of Regentville, Penrith. Sir John Jamison was a son of Dr. Thomas Jamison, surgeon of the Royal Navy who landed in Sydney Cove with Governor Phillip in 1788 and was the first medical officer of the City of Sydney. He came to Australia as Assistant Surgeon of H.M.S. Sirius (1788). Sir John was the first president of the Royal Agricultural Society of New South Wales, Deputy Grandmaster of the Masonic Lodge, and was the organiser of the first race meeting ever held in the State. Binnalong, his blood sire, received the first award given by the Royal Society.

Sir John left two sons, Robert Thomas, Member of the first Parliament of the Nepean, and William Henry (husband of the late Mrs. Jamison, of Warrangee) who owned Baanbaa and Ingelobah Stations in Queensland and Warrangee in New South Wales.

Some years after Mr. and Mrs. John MacLean were living at Glen Alice, two of Mrs. MacLean's brothers came to Australia. These were Jonathan and J.D. MacLean. The former was Curator of the Sydney Botanical Gardens in approximately 1833, subsequently becoming Administrator of Newfolk Island. The latter became the owner of the famous 'Westbrook" estate on the Darling Downs. Before his untimely decease at Westbrook, Mr. J.D. MacLean was premier of Queensland, and upon one occasion lent £300,000 to the Queensland Government to tide it over a period of financial depression.

Mrs. Jamison's brothers were the late Donald Martin MacLean of "The Crown" Station; the late George MacLean of Sydney: the late Alexander MacLean of "Co Co Creek"; the late Jonathon MacLean of Mungrabambone Station. There were two sisters, Kate, who was married to Murray Davidson (son of the Surveyor General of New South Wales) and Jessie, whose husband was a professional man named Marshall.

Mrs. Jamison was born at old Warrangee Station in the year 1846. Her husband died at the Globe Hotel, Rylstone in 1891, as the result of an accident, leaving seven young children and a station of 16,000 acres in extent, who were to become the charge of his widow. The business acumen and ability of the late Mrs. Jamison may be gauged by the fact that she personally controlled her interests with success, only relinquishing the actual management of the Warrangee Station a few years before its sale to take up residence on the Blue Mountains and later in North Sydney. During the days of its late owner, Warrangee may have been likened unto an elastic house for it was always possible to find room for the visitor and traveller as well as a pleasure to dispense hospitality.

The removal of one of the most picturesque figures in the social and industrial life of the Rylstone District takes place with the decease of Mrs. Jamison, and moreover, it means the entire disappearance of the last Australian link of a grand old Scottish Pioneering family. There are many good people within the precincts of the old home who will long remember her neighbourly propensities and kindly humanitarianism acts. For many years in the Capertee Valley were the homes of the sick and afflicted visited by the late deceased at all hours of the day and night, and it was always a great pleasure to her to be able to administer or bring comfort to suffering humanity.

Like her late father, whose memory is reverred at Glen Alice today, she never permitted a poor swagman or destitute wayfarer to pass the door of her home without dispensing whatever aid lay within her power. Eloquent testimony of a sorrowing and grateful community to this was borne by the graveside at the Glen Alice Cemetery by the large number of residents who came to pay their last tribute of respect last Tuesday afternoon.

The cause of the decease of the late Mrs. Jamison was cerebal haemorrhage. The end was doubtless hastened by war anxiety, but specialists agreed that the life could habe veen prolonged for another 15 to 20 years but for the cerebal rupture.

The end came peacefully in the presence of members of her family at North Sydney, her last wish being that her remains be interred in the old cemetery at Glen Alice. The children surviving are six in number :- Marion E. Ashe; Mary R. Jamison; Kathleen Jamison; Duart MacLean Jamison; William James Jamison; Lyndon G. Jamison - Deceased H.J.C. Jamison.


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An alternative crossing: Bells Line of Road

Rylstone people going to Sydney may well go via the Bell's Line of Road and experience the same magnificent scenery as a hundred years years ago, without knowing the history behind this development. 

The article below by Dr Ian Jack is well worth reading.

An alternative crossing: Bells Line of Road 
 Part 1: Alexander Bell junior 
by Ian Jack


THROUGHOUT 2013 there has been a bicentennial preoccupation with the genesis of the Great Western Highway over the Blue Mountains.

The development of a viable road along the high ridges south of the Grose River to the plains beyond had powerful consequences which were gradually realised over the decades following 1813.

The recent and continuing commemorations of Blaxland, Lawson, Wentworth, Evans, Cox and Macquarie have contributed to a welcome appraisal of the events of 1813 to 1815.

It is worthwhile, however, to recall that another ridgeway to the north of the Grose gorge had also been explored by Europeans and was surveyed as a viable road in 1823.

Bells Line of Road was a real enough alternative to the Western Road, although, for a variety of reasons, it has always played second fiddle to the southern route.

But when Archibald Bell and Robert Hoddle created the alternative road in 1823, the descent from Mount York was still a challenge for the traveller on the Western Road and Thomas Mitchell had not yet arrived in the colony to make autocratic determinations about the best lines for all three main roads, north, south and west.

Mount Tomah proved to be Bell’s Mount York, but in 1823 the northern route promised much.

Whereas the southern route ran from the lower Nepean at Emu Plains, the new route started on the upper Hawkesbury adjacent to North Richmond, climbed the escarpment through Kurrajong to Kurrajong Heights with deviations over the years, then descended onto a singularly equable ridgeline until the great obstacle of Mount Tomah presented generations of road-users and road-makers with dangers and dilemmas.

Once over Mount Tomah, the road followed the only practicable ridgeline until it turned south at the Darling Causeway, where the Grose River had its source.

Halfway down the Darling Causeway it turned west again down a viable creek gully into Hartley Vale (the route still in use today as Hartley Vale Road).

Once safely down in Hartley Vale, it passed the inn that Pierce Colletts had established in 1821 and joined the Western Road (Figure 1).
Macquarie rode up to Kurrajong Heights
With the development of farming in the Hawesbury Valley from 1794 onwards and the granting of land on both sides of the river, there was a natural likelihood of furthe early exploration.

 The only written account to survive from these first years is by Matthew Everingham, a First-Fleet convict, who set out from his Hawkesbury farm in 1795 with two other Europeans ‘to cross the blue mountains of this country’, climbed up to Kurrajong Heights as Tench had done, though his exact route is uncertain, and then went beyond as far as the eminences of Mount Wilson/Irvine or Mount Tomah.2

In 1804 the naturalist George Caley travelled from Kurrajong Heights to Mount Tomah and Mount Banks by a very difficult route, still remembered by names such as the Devil’s Wilderness and Dismal Dingle (Figure 2).3

Because of their proximity to the Hawkesbury River, the Kurrajong hills and the North Richmond area were settled and developed quite early, including the Bell family’s Belmont in 1807.

James Meehan surveyed North Richmond in 1809 and Kurrajong in 1811.4

With the development of farming in the Hawkesbury Valley from 1794 onwards and the granting of land on both sides of the river, there was a natural likelihood of further early exploration.

The only written account to survive from these first years is by Matthew Everingham, a First-Fleet convict, who set out from his Hawkesbury farm in 1795 with two other Europeans ‘to cross the blue mountains of this country’, climbed up to Kurrajong Heights as Tench had done, though his exact route is uncertain, and then went beyond as far as the eminences of Mount Wilson/Irvine or Mount Tomah.2

In 1804 the naturalist George Caley travelled from Kurrajong Heights to Mount Tomah and Mount Banks by a very difficult route, still remembered by names such as the Devil’s Wilderness and Dismal Dingle (Figure 2).3

Because of their proximity to the Hawkesbury River, the Kurrajong hills and the North Richmond area were settled and developed quite early, including the Bell family’s Belmont in 1807.

James Meehan surveyed North Richmond in 1809 and Kurrajong in 1811.4

This story does not imply that local Aboriginal people did not know how to cross Kurrajong Heights, but it makes it clear that they did not expect to go to the Bathurst Plains directly from Kurrajong .

The evidence of George Bowman, who lived at Berambing, near Mount Tomah,in the 1830s, is categorical:

‘The Aboriginal natives never lived in [that part of] the mountains, but there was a tribe who wandered over the neighbouring lowlands [i.e. the plateau between Kurrajong Heights and Mount Tomah] and occasionally paid me a visit.7

The evidence strongly suggests that the Darug people had some knowledge of the area as far as Mount Tomah, but that no regular Aboriginal thoroughfare from the Bathurst Plains to the Cumberland Plains existed immediately to the north of the Grose River.

Archibald Bell junior and his three expeditions in 1823 Archibald Bell junior spent almost his entire early life in the Kurrajong district.

Born in England in 1804, he had arrived in New South Wales with his parents and eight and a half siblings in 1807.

Archibald senior a member of the Rum Corps

His father, Archibald Bell senior, a member of the Rum Corps, was given 500 acres [200 hectares] on the north bank of the Hawkesbury at North Richmond by Governor Bligh, built his house of Belmont there, expanded his landholdings during the interregnum and under Paterson and, despite his complicity in the fall of Bligh, was in 1810 confirmed in his acreage by Governor Macquarie.8

Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie visited the Bell family at Belmont in November 1810 and took tea on the verandah.9

Belmont was already a comfortable home in 1810, and Archibald Bell senior and his wife Maria developed the property between 1826 and 1834 into the delightful house drawn by Conrad Martens in 1838 and painted by Henry Fullwood in 1892 (Figure 3) .10 

Young Archibald was still living at home in 1823, a lad of nineteen. Three years before he had been stimulated by his elder brother, William, who enterprisingly followed John Howe’s newly blazed route to the Hunter Valley via Bulga Ridge but Archibald had been too young to a join William on this expedition.11

In 1823, the incident of the Aboriginal woman returning by the northern route to Kurrajong and Belmont from her abduction by a group from Wallerawang, inspired Archibald to mount an expedition of his own.

He mustered his small party at the water-mill on Little Wheeny Creek on August 1, 1823, and left with two settlers, one of them the local blacksmith, William McAlpine.

In the diary which Bell kept while on his expedition and carefully copied out on his return in a notebook which luckily survived in the family library, he makes it clear that he had ‘Native Guides’ but does not identify them.12

Sam Boughton, who knew two of Archibald’s sisters, was quite sure that the abducted Aboriginal woman went with Bell, while Alfred Smith, another local identity, claimed in 1910 that on Bell’s first or second expedition there were only ‘two blackfellows “Cocky” and “Emery”’, men who are known in other documentation and were about 27 years old in 1823.13 

The first expedition reached Mount Tomah, but the horses were unable to proceed beyond because of the extreme hazards of the western exit from the mountain.

With a larger group Bell returned in September, found a viable route half-way up Mount Tomah and went on farther than Everingham or Caley had done, turned south onto the Darling Causeway and then down to Hartley Vale.14

When Bell returned to Belmont, he quickly spread the news of his success and gained publicity for the argument that the new line of road was shorter and easier than the Great Western Highway, with better feed for stock.15 

Hoddle was to climb every ‘remarkable’ mountain

John Oxley, the surveyor-general, was impressed and at once sent his new assistant surveyor, Robert Hoddle, freshly arrived from the Cape of Good Hope, to survey Bell’s route.

Hoddle was to describe the country, estimate the amount of cultivable land, climb every ‘remarkable’ mountain and mark the direction of every creek.16

On October 6, 1823 Hoddle set out from Kurrajong accompanied by Bell, two Aborigines, five European men and three horses. The field- book which Hoddle maintained throughout the fortnight taken to reach Collett’s Inn survives, along with the more polished account that he sent to Oxley on November 4, 1823.

Hoddle compiled a workmanlike map, showing the whole length of around fifty kilometres surveyed.17

Hoddle shows that the existing road from the Hawkesbury to Kurmond followed a line very close to the modern Bells Line, but this road then went north of what is now Kurrajong village: Hoddle suggested on his map a deviation through Kurrajong, the road known today as Old Bells Line of Road through the village.

Kurrajong Heights was named ‘Bell’s View’ on Hoddle’s map and along the relatively easy road to Mount Tomah the surveyor marked, as instructed, places where there were ‘plenty of water’, ‘good soil’ and ‘fine timber’.

After the descent from the Darling Causeway, Hoddle showed two possible end-games once the road levelled out, with a preference for the more easterly route, making a beeline for Collett’s Inn .

Otherwise the road as surveyed in October 1823 represents the route established by Bell’s second expedition in the previous month.18

Archibald Bell was an able publicist for his new route. Not only the Sydney Gazette in 1823 but also the English Morning Herald of June 21, 1824 compared the old and the new roads and believed Bell’s propaganda about the new: ‘Besides considerably reducing the distance, the road will be comparatively level, and free from nearly all the obstacles which render the bleak and barren one now used so uninviting to the traveller, and ill adapted for the passage of carts and driving of cattle.19

But the advent of Thomas Mitchell as surveyor general, the continuing intransigence of Mount Tomah and the building of the railway in the 1860s ensured that Bells Line remained subsidiary to the Western Road for the rest of the nineteenth century.


1 W. Tench, Sydney’s First Four Years, ed. L.F. Fitzhardinge, Sydney, 1979, pp.234-235, 324.
2 The Everingham Letterbook, ed. V. Ross, Sydney, 1985. This contains, in addition to the text of Everingham’s letters which describe the expedition, an excellent account of various attempts in the early 1980s to reconstruct the actual route taken.
3 M. Hungerford, Bilpin the Apple Country: a Local History, Bilpin, 1995, pp.9-17.
4 State Records New South Wales [SRNSW], Surveyor’s Field-Book 70, Reel 2622, SZ 891, cover, pp.3-7, 26-29. Meehan’s survey notes on Kurrajong, although in his own list of contents, are missing from the volume.
5 Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales: Journals of his Tours in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land 1810-1822, Sydney, 1979, pp.24- 25.
6 ‘Cooramill’ [S. Boughton], ed. C. McHardy, Reminiscences of Richmond: from the Forties Down, Windsor, 2010, p.107.
7 Quoted in Hungerford, Bilpin, p.35.
8 Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol.1, pp.78-79; SRNSW, Primary Applications, 10/26656/7816, items 8, 9. 9 Macquarie, Journals, p.24.
10 Three dated stones survive from old Belmont, evidence of building works in 1826, 1830 and 1834. The Martens drawings are now in the State Library of NSW, PXC 295 fos.85-88, DL PX 27 fo.72. One of the five Fullwoods is still at Belmont Park, while a colour photocopy of another is in the Small Picture File of the Mitchell Library, mis-filed under ‘Newcastle Suburbs, Belmont’.
11 A. Macqueen, Somewhat Perilous: the Journeys of Singleton, Parr, Howe, Myles & Blaxland in the Northern Blue Mountains, Wentworth Falls, 2004, p.117.
12 R. Else-Mitchell, ‘The Discovery of Bell’s Line, 1823: a Note and a Document’, Journal of Royal Australian Historical Society [JRAHS], 66, 1980-1, pp.92-3. The manuscript notebook is now in the Mitchell Library, ML MSS 1706 Add-on 1071, pp.5,,7.
13 ‘Cooramill’, ed. McHardy, Reminiscences of Richmond, p.106 ; A. Smith, Some Ups and Downs of an Old Richmondite, Emu Plains, 1991, p.27; Hungerford, Bilpin, pp.19-20. 14Hungerford, Bilpin, pp.21-23.
15 Sydney Gazette, 9 October 1823, p.2. 16 J. Jervis, ‘Robert Hoddle, first Surveyor-General of Victoria, and his Early Work in New South Wales’, JRAHS, 23, 1937, pp.42-45.
17 SRNSW, Surveyor’s Field Book 258, Reel 2626, 2/4894; Surveyor-General’s In-Letters, 4/1814 pp.109-114 (partly published in Hungerford, Bilpin, p.24); Map SZ 422.
18 SRNSW, Map SZ 422.
19 Cutting from Morning Herald, 21 June 1824, in Miscellaneous Papers collected by H.F. Garner, Mitchell Library, ML 1493, reel CY 907, p.390b.